The Report

She awoke well before dawn.  It was hard to dislodge herself from Emily’s arms.  She held her so tight.  But there was something on her mind.  She couldn’t keep her mind off it.  She wanted to look over some of the files they had.  There was one in-particular.

(Excerpt from Chief Researcher, Dr. Jeremiah Cromwell’s log, High Orbital Station One)

We got our latest instructions.  We are to begin testing on human subjects.  I’m not sure I feel comfortable about this.  We have already seen what the Nova Particle’s effect on organic tissue is.  It mutates cellular structure in a way that the body cannot survive.  The cells that don’t explode are often unable to function properly.  We have seen lab animals turned into monsters, if they don’t become mangled by the mutations.  The few creatures that were able to mutate without falling into the aforementioned categories were uncontrollable.  I don’t see the purpose of this!
What makes it worse is that the subjects we have been given are children!  Orphans from either Area 4 or Area 3.  We destroy their homes, kidnap them, now we are using them to test how a particle that we know mutates organic tissue will mutate them.  I lodged my protest with Command, but it didn’t do any good.  I was informed that if I didn’t follow orders, I was going to be “re-purposed.”  Nothing subtle about that threat.  This is nothing short of a crime against humanity.  Command assures me that they will be doing a greater good for our country, but I’m not so sure.  What greater good could come from this?

(Excerpt from audio file, testing lab 34)

Subject: what are you doing, doctor?
Nurse: He’s going to be giving you a little injection, alright?  It’s nothing to be afraid of.  This injection will help keep you safe from disease.”
Subject: Okay.  Will you hold my hand?
Nurse: Of course.
<Subject is given injection>
Subject: Ow, that hurts!
Nurse: I know, sweetie.  Just a little poke.  <After a moment> See, that wasn’t scary at all!  You did very good.  <Another pause> You can let go of my hand now.
Subject: I did let go!
Nurse: Sweetie, you’re still holding my hand!  You’re squeezing very hard!
Subject: <Voice deeper> I’m telling you, it’s not me!
<Nurse starts screaming> Nurse: You’re hurting me!  Please let go!:
Subject: It’s not me!  Somebody help me!
<Sound of flesh tearing.>  Doctor: Oh god!  <Buzz on intercom> We need some help in here!
<Door opens> Orderly: Oh fuck!  What the fuck happened to her!
Doctor: Restrain the subject!  Use of lethal force is authorized!
<More flesh tearing, sound of gunshots>
Doctor: The experiment is over.  Loss of subject at 1329, Greenwich Mean Time.  Record the loss of the nurse as well.  Get a crew to clean this up.
Orderly: Yes, doctor.

(Excerpt from Chief Researcher’s log)

If there is a looser definition of the word “science,” this is it.  I swear, I feel like a monster!  All the first batch of test subjects are diseased.  The results were horrifying.  70% of the subject died from the first and second infusions of the formula we made.  The rest had vast physiological mutations.  There were those who had muscle growth go out of control.  Some were emitting a kind of energy from their bodies, which ripped them and the doctors, nurses and orderlies to pieces.  One subject actually exploded!  Took out an entire lab with her.  We’ve learning nothing!  All permutations to the formula have had no success.  All tweaks to the environment that the subject was kept in had no success.  Nothing I did worked.  Another batch of subject is going to be arriving soon.  I am already preparing my staff for the worst.

(Audio File 252)

Subject: Doctor, what is this injection for?
Doctor: It’s to help you adapt to space, little one.  Think of it like a vaccine.
Subject: Okay.
Nurse: Beginning injection now. <To Subject> Just a little poke now.  Be brave.
Subject: It’s okay.  I’m not scared.
<Injection infused>
Doctor: Any changes?
Nurse: Negative, doctor.  Nothing at all.
Doctor: I think we’ve finally done it!  We’ve finally found the perfect subject!

(Excerpt from Chief Researcher’s log)

As expected, all of the test subjects perished in the second batch we were given.  The third batch, however, something different happened!  All but one perished!  We have a test subject that can actually sustain the formula!  Five infusions, and the subject is still alive.  Maybe now we can stop testing on more kids.  At least, that’s what I was hoping.  Seems the fate isn’t going to be so nice to me.  Command said that they want more.  We’re being sent more staff to replace our losses, too.  This is disgusting!  Beyond unethical.  If there is a God, on the off-chance, he must keep a special place in Hell for people like me.
But, the subject who has survived, who has been renamed Subject Zero, is showing incredible improvement.  It sustained an injury from a careless nurse, but the cellular regeneration was incredibly fast.  Within a few days, there was no evidence that it had been hurt.  The subject has also seen an increase in brain functions as well.  It is learning languages, mathematics, critical analysis and tactical information at an amazing rate.  One of our best chess players lost to it today.  The potential that we have discovered with this Subject, it makes what we have done to the rest almost bearable.  Almost, being the operative word.
  I was told that we are getting some new personnel to perform new tests with Subject Zero.

(Taken from security footage in the mess hall)

“You see what the new guys brought with them?”
“Enough tech to sink this damn station!”
“For real.  And I hear it’s all for one subject!”
“Which one?”
“Who do you think?  Subject Zero.  The brass have been fawning over the data from it for months!  It’s like the rest of the subjects don’t exist with this one.”
“Poor child…”

(Audio File 437)

Subject: Please, stop!  I don’t want to do this!
Researcher: Insert the subject into the device!
Subject: Please, I’ll do whatever you want!  Just don’t put me back in there!  Please don’t hurt me again!
Researcher: Insert the subject into the device!
<Sound of mechanical systems coming online>
Researcher: Begin the test!
<Incoherent screaming>
Subject: Please let me out!  I’m sorry!  I’ll be good!  I’ll do whatever you want!  Please let me out!
<Screaming continues for several minutes>
Researcher: End the test.  Record the data.  Also, make sure to sanitize the lab again.  I swear, if it would stop bleeding so much, that would be a big help.

(Excerpt from Chief Researcher’s log)

My wife left me.  I came clean about what we were doing, and she said she couldn’t look at me anymore.  I don’t blame her.  She took our son with her.  Given what we are doing to Subject Zero, I can’t blame her for not trusting me with him.  God, this poor thing.  We aren’t allowed to speak to the Subject anymore.  The new people they brought in have pretty much taken over my lab.  I have no authority anymore.  I hardly even come into work.  Nobody cares.  The bulk of the staff here quit.  The last batch of subjects we were given died.  There is no subject like Subject Zero.  None at all.  And yet, things are getting weird around here.
The other day, one of our custodians said that he saw the silhouette of a young woman.  One of the subjects!  He said that it was just light.  Like it was made up of light!  This isn’t the first we’ve heard of something like this.  There were reports of the sound of a little boy screaming echoing through the halls, but with no subject to make the noise.  The staff is terrified.  I am too.  It’s all connected with Subject Zero.  It has to be!  There’s something wrong here!  The Emperor himself came to visit!  Said he wanted to check on our progress.  He told us that what is happening to Subject Zero is a good thing.  Bullshit!  That’s fucking bullshit!  I still hear that child screaming in my sleep.  I have nightmares about it standing over me, slicing me open.  We’ve become monsters.  We’re not human anymore.

(A memo sent to Imperial Command)

To:       Imperial Command
From:   Orbital Station 1
Date:    02/23/2305
Re:       Status of Project

Let the His Imperial Majesty know that the final stages of The Project will be starting soon.  The Subject is responding better than we could have hoped.  It has no limit to the amount of the Nova Particle Formula that it can be infused with.  The entire physiological structure of the Subject has been replaced with the Formula.  We will be moving to the final stage very soon.  Once it is completed, tell His Imperial Majesty that we already have a purified version of the Formula that we can begin infusing into new subjects.  The perfected version will be completed upon the Final Infusion.

Glory to our Emperor!  The Day of Ascension is coming!

(Excerpt from Chief Researcher’s log)

I’ve got word that a member of the Aristocracy, who is looking to look at our progress is coming to visit the Station tomorrow.  Guy’s bringing his kid, too.  What the hell?!  He thinks that this place is something that his daughter should see?!  Aristocrats are the most disgusting people in the entire world.  I may just kill him.

(Audio File 890)

Orderly: It’s escaped!  Subject Zero has escaped!
<Explosions in the background>
Researcher: Mobilize all security forces!  Tell them to have stun weapons!  We must keep Subject Zero alive!  Under no circumstances is anyone to terminate Subject Zero, understood?!
Orderly: But sir, it’s-!
<Explosion cuts out all sound>

(Security footage from Camera 504)

<Little girl walking down the hall.  Shadow approaching her>
Girl: Who are you?  Are you with the people here?!  I’m scared.  I want to find my daddy!
Unknown: Who are you?!
Girl: My name is Eleanor!  Who are you?

(Final Chief Researcher’s Log)

Subject Zero escaped.  It used energy fields and ripped the machine they kept it in to pieces.  Killed everyone inside.  The Subject ripped through the entire facility.  We evacuated who we could.  80% of the facility has been completely destroyed.  Only 20 members of the staff survived.  All security forces perished during the attack.  The Aristocrat was found looking for his daughter.  He found her in C-Block.  No idea how the kid got there, but whatever.  We loaded up who we could and got out.  Headed back for the surface.  Last thing I saw were the remaining staff who couldn’t make it to the shuttles, begging for us to save them.
Once we could get readings, we saw that the entire Station was destroyed.  According to the report, Subject Zero wouldn’t have been able to survive.  I looked over every single inch of that report.  No body was found!  Not one trace of the Subject was found!  That scares me.  I know that they say that it is dead.  It would have to be.  But some part of me, deep down, knows that Subject Zero is alive!  Somewhere.  I know that someday, it will come back.  I just pray, when that day comes, I’m far enough away to evade it.  God, what have we done?!

That mistake was one that they would regret forever – believing that it was dead.  Quinn looked over the last part of the file, as she heard Emily waking up.  She closed it, locking out the database.  She didn’t need to know.  Not yet.
Quinn went over, slipping back into her arms.
“Hey you,” Emily greeted, opening her eyes.
“Hey.”  She kissed her softly.  “You always said that you wanted to greet the dawn together.  Is this everything you wanted it to be?”
Her lover smiled.  “That and more.  I love you, Quinn.”
“I love you too, Emily.  With all my heart.”  They kissed as the sunlight starting reflecting off the water.  It was a beautiful morning.

Until next time, a quote,

“Encouragement irrelevant.  Will always be scientists willing to perform unethical tests.  Can’t change that…Won’t ignore data vital to her survival because of unethical origins.”  -Mordin Solus, Mass Effect 3

Peace out,

Maverick

The Integration

The command vehicle arrived at the Inlet just before sunset.  It was another atmosphere from when they went out.  Not one casualty, they struck a huge blow to the Empire and now they had 13 new Knights to add to their roster (which included the Specials they who had already come to them).  Brainiac was already hard at work to customize Armor for all of them.  It was a good day, in every sense of the word.  Riddler was working with the reinforcements who arrived from the AU.  He took one of their smaller airships to rendezvous with them.  They were ready for war.  The real kind.  The entire Inlet was in high spirits.  The children rescued from the base were put into the housing units inside the Inlet.  The medic Special was staying with them, to help them acclimate to their new environment.  Members of the group who had lost children were happy to help look after them.  They became surrogate parents to these new arrivals, and the kids felt like they were in another world.  Some of them had damage from Nova Particle experiments that was unstable, but they had a very competent medical team looking into that.  A new day had come to the Inlet, and everyone was enjoying it.

The Specials who were volunteering to fight were gathered inside of the briefing room.  They were all beaming with pride, having been given uniforms and code names.  The ones who already had one were left as they were.  It was easier to work with.  The man who could conjure up blades was given the name “Anarky.”  The woman with the invisible arms was given the name “Red Hood.”  Vic was given the title, “Sinestro.”  A title she warmed up to quickly.  The girl with the entity that was attached to her was given the title, “Ventriloquist.”  Then there were the four machine-creatures that the Empire made.  Each of them was a combat expert.  They were as versatile as it comes, able to take punishment and do things that no normal human could hope to.  They each also had their own personalities.  For their purposes, they were given the code-name “League of Assassins.”  When added to Firefly, Deathstroke, Deadshot, Ghost and Copperhead, that made 19 Knights in the Knights of the Wolf force.  They were all given special uniforms, black, with red trim, to signify this.  They were a cut above the rank and file.  Each of them already had the respect of the rest.  Having proven their loyalty, the initial distrust of the Specials was gone.  It was a good day.
Wolf had the others stand with them, each in uniform.  “You are the best of what this army has to offer!  Each of you are the greatest warriors of your class.  You were not trained, but chosen.  You have proven yourselves in the fire of combat!  A cut above the rank-and-file, you are my right and left hand in battle!  However, this is a heavy responsibility.  You all will be expected to perform in ways that others cannot!  Do you accept this burden?”
They all saluted, smiling bright.  “Yes ma’am!”
“Then I welcome you all into Winter’s Shadow!”  The room applauded.  It was an amazing day.  Brainiac wasted no time getting them to come with her to fit for Armors and skins.  As everyone was leaving, Wolf turned around.
“Puppeteer, if you would, I would like you to remain for a moment.  I have something I would like to discuss with you.”
Emily looked over, nodding.  “Of course, ma’am.  Glad to.”  She couldn’t wipe the grin from her face.
Firefly looked back at her, but she knew.  Quinn has to confront how she feels.  I will wait to see what happens.

The rest left, and the room got quiet.  Emily stood at attention.
Wolf laughed.  “At ease, soldier.”
She relaxed, chuckling.  “Sorry, ma’am.  Old habits die hard.”  The two shared a laugh.  “So, you wanted to talk to me about something?”
Wolf let out a deep breath, turning around.  “I did.  There’s something that you need to know.”  She pressed the switch on her mask, making it able to be removed.  She took it off, pulling down a piece of black cloth that she had to cover most of her face, in the event that the mask was damaged.  Her fire-red hair was rather long, tied up in back.  She undid the tie, letting it fall down.  It was a moment of shock for Emily as she turned around, seeing Quinn standing before her.
“It’s been a long time,” she said, nearly crying.
Emily sobbed as she ran over.  She embraced her in a hug so hard that the two hit the wall behind them.  The unrestrained affection was back.  She kissed Quinn’s face everywhere, ending on her lips.
“Oh my god, you’re alive!  You’re okay!”  Tears were flowing open down her face as she clung to Quinn, not wanting to let her go.  It felt like if she did, then she wouldn’t be real anymore.
The two held each other for a long time, Quinn felt so good, kissing Emily again.  “I am.  I was out for a year.  Gone.  What they did to me, it was horrible.  I’m still recovering, in a lot of ways.”
Emily buried her face in her former lover’s neck.  “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”  It felt like an eternity before they finally pulled apart.  The two wiped their faces, as Quinn sat at the table.
Some darker thoughts came to Emily.  “So, you were always the Wolf.  And you knew that I was a Special.  An enemy to you.”  More dark thoughts.  “Did you have a plan to kill me?”
Quinn took her hand.  “Never!  I could never hurt you, Emily!  I had planned to imprison you, if it came to that.  I love you.  I could never kill someone I love.  It’s already kind of hard to live with myself.”
They shared a quiet moment.  But the reality facing them was still there.
“So, what happens now?” Emily asked, moving her chair closer.  She ran her fingers over Quinn’s face.
The expression on her face was hard.  “We have a war to win.  The Empire is now facing battles on all fronts.  Save South America, of course, but that couldn’t be avoided.  Their military is vast, but their enemy has caught up to their advanced weapons.  Well, most of them.  They don’t have Specials, like you.  But I mean to change that.”
A quizzical look came to Emily’s face.  “How?”
“That was part of my mission in Lab 451.  I downloaded all the data the Empire had compiled.  We then destroyed any and all backup data sources.  To get to where the Empire was, other nations would have to have experiments like what was done to Subject Zero.  We can head that off before it gets there.  There are already treaties being made about human testing.  We can’t ban it.  That won’t work.  However, we can and are controlling it.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.”
She was impressed.  “Alright, but then…”  She looked into Quinn’s eyes, which had that distant look that they had when she was thinking.  “What happens with us when it’s over?”  Another long pause.
“Emily, all I want is to be with you.  Forever!  I was so mad at you, for so long!  Everything that happened to me, I just wanted someone to be angry at.  I feel terrible.  I said so many hurtful things.”  She looked into Emily’s eyes.  “Can we begin again?  Get this right?”
The tears came back.  “That’s all I want, Quinn!  That’s all I ever want!”  They kissed again.  It felt amazing.
After a while, Quinn pulled back.  “But the others can’t know who I am.  Not yet.  Soon, they will have to.  I don’t know how much longer I can keep this a secret.  For now, refer to me as Wolf, understand?”
Emily stood up, saluting.  “Yes ma’am!”  The smile could not be wiped off her face.

Prince Adam got word about what happened.  The Lab was destroyed, the subjects gone and the staff all killed.  They had called in emergency staff from the town, but it didn’t matter.  Everyone who was in there was dead and they were gone.  There were rumors that Winter’s Shadow had been involved, but since there was nothing left of the place, there was no way to tell.  He had a bad feeling about this.

Amelia got back into the city where Doppelganger had lived.  She went to the apartment, finding that it was exactly as he had left it, last time that she was there.  Nothing had changed.  She looked around, seeing that nothing was in the fridge, there were only the bare minimum of things in the house.  For all intents-and-purposes, it was a front.  There was a bizarre expression on her face.  It was cold and distant.  I will find you, Doppelganger!  And when I do, I’ll get some answers.

Quinn got back to her room onboard the Odysseus and set up a link with Oracle.
“So, what do we have?”
There was a pause as information came through.  “Boss, I don’t know where to begin!  I’ve been pouring through the documents, and I know this – they were planning something big!  It’s all tied up with you, boss.  You were supposed to be the catalyst for a larger plan.  I found all the information about you in their databases.  Sending it through now.”
She opened the files marked, “Subject Zero, Final Report.”  Her eyes went wide.
“There’s something else that you need to see.  I think we’ve finally got to the bottom of what the Emperor was trying to do.  It’s, unbelievable!”
Another file came through.  It was entitled, “The Project.”  As she read the brief, Quinn’s heart stopped.  This man truly was a genius!  Unbelievable!
“Oracle, show this to no one, understand?!  If this got into the hands of Prince Adam, I don’t even want to begin to think of what the levels of destruction would be.  It could destroy the entire planet.”  That thought hung in the air, making both of them nervous.
“You got it, boss.  My lips are sealed.”  The link cut off.  Quinn sat back in her chair.  The implications of this “Project,” it was incredible.  The Emperor was every bit the genius that they made him out to be.  However, one thing had gone wrong.  Something big.  It threw a wrench in all of this.  Subject Zero escaped.
Suddenly, there was another buzz.  “Oh, hey boss.  There is one other thing.  I recently got information that the reporter, Elena, has been doing some digging.  You’re not going to like this.”
She groaned.  “Just what I needed.  What’s she doing?”

Juliet was looking through a different library.  It was records that the Empire had kept.  She had a feeling that something wasn’t right.  The Emperor had been away for months, yet there were no records of where he went and why.  It just didn’t add up!  The more she looked into it, the more she realized her father was keeping things from them.  Big things.  His absences were becoming an issue in the country.  Especially with what was happening Area 7.  She was learning so much about the Empire from these records.  There were reports that the Emperor had chartered a shuttle to space!  Why on Earth would he go there?!  There were rumors that the Empire had a space colony.  The first one of its kind.  However, what they did there and how the station functioned were a whole other matter.  It was classified in a way that even she couldn’t access information about it.  The deeper she got into this, the more problematic it became.  She could feel that a storm was coming.  Something that she couldn’t stop.  Something that it didn’t seem like anyone could.  For the first time, Juliet didn’t trust her father.  She didn’t trust her country.  She didn’t trust anyone.  That’s when it hit her – The Wolf might know!   Everything about what they were doing told her that the Wolf was probably the only person who would know what is happening.  But she had no way to contact them.  For the first time, being sickly felt like an inconvenience to her.  There was some knowledge that one had to go out and get.  And she simply couldn’t.

Ghost sat on the deck of the Inlet, staring out at the setting sun.  It was beautiful.  Ventriloquist walked over, sitting down next to him.
“Do you like what you do?” she asked.
He didn’t look at her.  His mind was far away.  “I guess so.  It’s been so long since this started, I don’t really know who I am anymore.  Sometimes, I’m a soldier.  Other times, I’m a scout.  Then there are times when I’m an assassin.  I have done what they asked me to do, and I’m good at it, but lately, it feels like I am a third wheel.”
The girl pulled her knees to her chest.  “How so?”
He chuckled.  “When we started, I was in command of about ten guys, had a very solid role in the group as their stealth agent.  We needed stealth back then.  Now, I feel like I am just a cog in a much larger machine.  And not all that important of a cog, too.”
She put on an indignant look.  “You told me that stealth was a big part of what you do.”
The man shrugged.  “You looked nervous.  I don’t like seeing a cute kid being that way.  Not my style.”  The two sat there for a while.
“I think you’re important,” Ventriloquist said, finally.
He smiled at her.  “How do you figure?”
She tilted her head to the side.  “Well, you helped them find us, didn’t you?  You were an important part of that mission.  And you’re one of Wolf’s Knights, just like me.”  The smile on her face grew as she looked at him.  “The way I see it, it’s more impressive to be a member of Wolf’s Knights when you’re not one of us.  It means that you earned your place there from hard work and skill that you had to culminate.  We had our skills given to us.”  She put her hand on his shoulder.  “You have a place here, Ghost.  I know you do.”
He smiled back at her.  “Thanks, kid.  Oh, and it’s Nicholas.  That’s my name.  Most people call me Nic.”
“Nice to meet you.  I’m Jenny.”  The two shook hands.
“Welcome to the team, Jenny.”

Radio sat on the deck of the Odysseus, also looking out at the sunset.  Emily saw her and came over.  The two shared a drink.  Radio couldn’t help but notice how her happy her comrade was.
“What’s got you all chipper?!” she asked.
Emily winked at her.  “My little secret!”
“Oh, come on!  That’s no fair!”  The two of them shared a laugh.  It felt good to be laughing again.  They were together, and they would never be torn apart.

Full-Crank sat on the dock, watching the waves crash against it.  It was so peaceful here.  Brainiac had gone to town getting information about them.  She seemed so excited.  The rest were only too happy to brag, so she got a lot.  Ironically, with him, he just wanted her to work on defense.  Weapons was not too big of a concern for his brand of Special.
Scarecrow came walking over.  “I had a feeling that I would find you here.  Some things never change.”
The man laughed.  “I should say the same, Marcus!  You are as predictable as the shows on TV!”
“Whatever!  I at least surprised you by not joining up with you.”  He sat down next to him.  “Say, Sani, why did you join the Empire?  I mean, given everything they did, why did you join up with them?”
He thought about that for a few minutes.  “I guess because I wanted to help make things better.  Sure, we killed people, but I tried to do my job in a way where the enemy would just give up.  They would go home and wouldn’t want to keep fighting.  Maybe I was just naive, thinking that it would be that easy, but hey, live and learn, right?”
Scarecrow sat closer.  “I missed you, when you were gone.  I was mad at you for so long.  They tortured us, pitted us against each other.  Do you remember that day?”
It was a bad memory, but he did remember.  The doctors at the Lab had had subjects fighting each other.  They were shocked when they hesitated.  Each of them wore a shock-collar.  But Mark wouldn’t do it.  He wouldn’t fight him.  They shocked him until he was nearly dead, but he wouldn’t do it.  That was the first time the Full-Crank had stood against them.  He attacked the people who were running the fight.  Killed a couple of them.  The two of them were thrown into a cell together.  It was the first time that they were able to admit how they felt.
Full-Crank took the man’s hand.  “Mark, I’m sorry!  I was so angry at you too.  Said a lot of stupid shit that I didn’t mean.  I’m sorry.”
Scarecrow said nothing.  He just put his arm around Full-Crank and kissed him softly.  The two sat there as the sun went below the horizon.  Neither wanted the day to end.

There was a knock on Quinn’s door.  She could tell that it was Gabby.
“Come in!” she said.  The door opened, and Gabby was standing there.  She looked sad.  They both knew what this was about.
“So, how’d it go with Emily?” she finally asked, breaking the ice.
Quinn stood up, walking over to her bed.  “Come here.”  She motioned beside her.
Gabby did as bidden, wearing the look of a sad puppy.
“Gabrielle, you mean everything to me.  You were a friend and more to me when I needed it.  I shared my secrets with you.  Secrets that you could use to destroy me, if you wanted to.  You comforted me when I needed that, and I am forever grateful.  I don’t want you to think that I was just using you, because I wasn’t.  I love you, Gabby.  I always will.”
Her lover started crying.  “But you still love Emily, don’t you?”
She nodded.  “I do.  I love her with all my heart.  I can’t leave her.  I can’t walk away.  I wish I could.  With everything that happened, I wish I could just leave it at that.  But she is the first person who I truly loved.”  Tears formed in her eyes as well.  “I’m sorry, Gabby.”
They hugged, holding each other tight.  “It’s okay, Quinn.  I’m not angry.  I’m happy for you.  And I mean it, too.  This isn’t like me just telling myself that I am happy.  I could almost see the look on your face when you found her again.  All I ever wanted was to be there for you, and I have been.  I can walk away satisfied.”
Smiles came back to their faces as they pulled back.
“You know,” Quinn giggled, “that new guitar player in your band, she was giving you some looks, last I checked.  We are going to have a bit of a break while I get my forces together.  You should ask her out.”
Gabby gave her a look.  “Wow, so just like that, huh?!”  It was met with laughter by both of them.
“I want you to be happy too, Gabby.  That’s all.  When you’re ready, I do think you should ask her out.  She’s more your type anyway.  The rock scene ain’t my style.”  They shared another laugh.  They both knew that they were okay.  But they both had a war to fight, and they were going to be alright.

Elena Morrison got back to the motel that she was staying at.  She had just broken the case.  She knew everything!  The history of the Fox family was in her hands.  How they had died.  What’s more, she knew that they were involved in the Specials.  This got so much bigger the further down the rabbit hole she want.  This scoop was unbelievable!  She could bring the Empire to its knees!  The Emperor was part of this too.  According to what she found, he was deep into the Specials.  Part of some larger project.  Of what, she didn’t know.  But she was going to find out.  Right as she set her stuff on the bed, a light turned on.  Sitting there, was Quinn.  Elena was shocked.
She tried to look confused.  “Uh, who are you, miss?”
The cold look on Quinn’s face didn’t change.  “Drop the act, Morrison.  You know EXACTLY who I am.  Now, let me ask you something – what was your goal here?  To excel your career?  To make a name for yourself?”
Elena’s expression got harder as well.  “Both!  I now have everything on you!  And before you go looking, it isn’t here!  I have everything I need to break this story wide open!  The name I’ll make for myself will put my parents to shame!  I can get further than they ever did!”
There was a pause.  Then, Quinn started laughing.
“What’s so funny?!” the reporter demanded.
She kept on for a couple minutes, letting it die down.  “You.  Underneath all your noble goals of being a good reporter, at the end of the day, you’re just like the rest!  Corrupt, arrogant, consumed with your love of money.  You are nothing more than an Aristocrat.”
The reporter snorted at her.  “And what are you, Ms. Fox?!  Daughter of the Emperor, child of an Aristocrat family!  How are you ANY different from me?!”
There was a flash and a bang.  Elena looked down to see blood pouring out of her.
“I’m none of those things.  I am wearing the skin of that person, for reasons that you could never understand.”
The reporter was on the floor, moaning in agony.  “What are you?!”
Quinn walked over, standing above her.  She aimed her gun down at her.  “I am the last thing you will ever see.  Goodbye, Ms. Morrison.  Winter’s Shadow thanks you for your service.”
The last thing she heard was the woman laughing as a bullet went into her skull.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m a war-monger.  I can’t help it!  I love everything about war.  I’m the very worst kind of person – someone who lives and dies for humanity’s most primitive impulse.”  -Ali Al-Saachez, Gundam 00

Peace out,

Maverick

The Lab

It felt good to be back in the command vehicle.  They had kept it in a garage within the city that led to the Inlet.  The attack force for this was Catwoman’s squad, along with Ghost, Copperhead and their new Knights.  Everyone was a little nervous.  This mission wasn’t like the others.  They had no idea what they were walking into.  Their Specials had been fitted with rudimentary Armors, until customized units could be completed.  They were a fearsome sight, as each took time to personalize their Armor.  They were going to be augmented with specialized equipment once Brainiac had it done.
They got through the border using a series of tunnels that were built by Winter’s Shadow during their downtime.  They were inside.  Since the vehicle still flew the Empire’s colors, they weren’t stopped.  Wolf suited up as well.  She was nervous.  What will be waiting for us there?  What has the Empire done?

The town that the base was linked to was strangely absent.  There wasn’t a single person there.  The crew looked outside.  The military outposts were abandoned.  So were the buildings and houses.
“What the hell?” Deadshot asked to no one in-particular.  He wasn’t the only one.  Catwoman stared out the window and had her forces arm up.  Something wasn’t right here.
They got to where they were unloading.  Ghost and Copperhead cloaked, moving in.  Their objective was to get the lay of the place, to see what kind of resistance was waiting for them.  They moved fast through the forest, following the road.  Deadshot got up into a tree using his eye-piece to zoom in.  Beneath his mask, he was confused.
“Ma’am, something’s not right here.  There’s not a soul in sight!”
Wolf and the others weren’t far behind.  “That can’t be right!  No way!  There has to be somebody watching this place, right?”
Ghost came on, “he’s right, there isn’t anybody!  We scanned for people using cloaking tech, but there was nothing.  No emissions of any kind.  Heart-beat scanners came up with nothing too.  There isn’t a single person here, ma’am.”
Wolf looked over at Catwoman.  She shrugged.  “Might as well move in, then.  I mean, maybe they cleared out.”
Radio looked up.  “Cleared out?!  But that means…”
Inferno nodded.  “Yeah.  That means that they have taken everyone somewhere else.  Somewhere we can’t follow!”  For the Specials, this was hard.  That meant that their comrade and friend was gone, and they might never find her.
Wolf started moving.  “Alright, we move in!  If they have left the area, maybe we can find some clue as to where they’re going!”
Catwoman followed.  “Everyone, stay tight and watch your sectors!  I don’t want the enemy getting the jump on us!”
“Yes ma’am!”  They all ran toward the base.  They met up with Ghost and Copperhead at the door.

Oracle bypassed the lock and they made their way in.  The main entrance was massive, with a place to house all kinds of vehicles nearby.  It was a spacious garage.  But something was off.  There were dozens of vehicles in here.  They weren’t properly parked.  It was like they came rushing in quickly.  This wasn’t planned.  The more Wolf saw, the more confused she became.
They ran to the elevator, bypassing security again.  The elevator was massive as well, able to transport cargo, and lots of it.  The entire force could fit on it.  The door opened and everyone was stunned.  There was a giant blood smear inside!  What made it was anyone’s guess.
Ghost looked at Wolf.  “Ma’am?”
She didn’t respond.  She had no idea.
Catwoman motioned for them to get inside.  “Alright, we’ll head down to sub-level 1.  Might as well start at the top and work our way down.”  It made sense.  As the elevator went down, the sense of foreboding in the air got bigger.
The door opened and they were horrified.  It was something out a nightmare.  There was blood everywhere!  There were a few bodies, most of them ripped apart.  The blood splatters were on every part of the hallway.  Looks of terror were in the eyes of the dead.  They came across a man who had been ripped clean in half.  His guts were dragging behind him, like he had tried to crawl away.  He didn’t get far.
“Oh god!” one of their soldiers groaned.
Deadshot was looking around.  “Okay, what the fuck?!  Did we miss a party or what?!”
The soldiers kept tight, checking their corners.  The Specials were out ahead of them.
Full-Crank saw some of the abandoned soldier’s weapons.  He reached out to them, changing them.  Soon, he had a very large cannon that only he could heft.  It looked like a mutated monster, but it functioned.  What happened here?!

The further they got into the base, the more destroyed it became.  Half of the lights were busted, the windows were all broken.  There was some young woman who had been a secretary.  She was found sliced into a dozen pieces.  There was a file in her hand, like she had just been on a delivery run.  She wasn’t the only one.
The bulk, of what they found were guards.  Bullet casings were everywhere inside.  There were also some particle rifles as well.  All of them accompanied with guards who were mangled in every one that one could be.  It was disturbing.  It was hard to move around the corpses, along with the parts of them that were scattered about.  With the lights bursting and the darkness in the room, it made it worse.  Night-vision was ghastly, with what there was to see.
The group descended to the next sub-level.  Wolf still had a mission.
“Radio, can you tell me where their archives were?  I need to access this base’s information.”
She thought for a moment.  “Sub-level 3, ma’am!”
This floor was just as deranged as the previous one.  This floor was filled with testing facilities.  As they passed by labs, they saw doctors, nurses, orderlies and assistants strapped down into the chairs, mutilated.  It was somewhat terrifying.  Several of them had smiles carved into their faces.  Another doctor was pumped full of some chemical.  His muscles had literally ripped through his skin, eating him alive.  A couple of the soldiers puked.  Wolf didn’t care.  She had seen worse in her time.  A lot worse.

The elevator took them to sub-level 3, and it was time to get to work.  This floor had nothing but civil workers, and all of them were dead.  It was a slaughterhouse!  It was clear that nobody had time to react before hell came down on them.  Bodies torn apart at their work stations, offices with fire coming out, it was a nightmare.  There was a closet where two coworkers had been having sex, and it was clear that someone had set the inside on fire and trapped them in there.  They died trying to claw their way out.
The archives were behind another locked door.  This one was different.  It was like no door they had ever seen.  It took almost ten minutes for the door to get opened.  Finally, Oracle got through security.  It opened, with several soldiers rushing in to secure the area.  They came face to face with Vic and another man.  A blue glow suddenly surrounded Vic, while the other man had blades that looked like glass appear around him.
“Wait!” Inferno shouted.  He walked forward, collapsing his headgear.  “Caleb, it’s really you?!”
The man was in shock.  “Alex?!  You’re back!”  He ran over, embracing his old friend.
“Yeah, I am.”  He turned to the others.  “They’re one of us!  More of those in the Specials program!”
The soldiers lowered their weapons.  Vic let the energy field chill down.
“So, Caleb, what happened here?!  Looks like something out of a horror movie!”
The other man smiled.  “We got free, Alex!  Everyone who was locked up in their little prison, Vic and Emily let them out!  We got to pay these fuckers back for everything they did to us!  And them some!  Trust me, these assholes had it coming!”  He looked at those who were with him.  “So, what’s this outfit you’re with?  I thought you and the others were serving with the Empire.”
Inferno shook his head.  “Hell no!  After what happened with Emily, I knew it was time to walk.  Got the rest of the team to come too!”
Shockwave ran over, hugging Caleb.  “Damn, it is good to see you!”
He smiled at her.  “Careful!  In that Armor, you might crush me!”
She winked at him.  “Not the worst idea!”  She looked over at Vic and smiled.  “Hey Vikki!  It’s good to see you again.”
Vic smiled back.  “Likewise, Elsa.  So, who are your friends?”
Full-Crank stepped forward, collapsing his faceplate as well.  “We joined up with Winter’s Shadow!”
The two were in shock.  “No way!  So this is Winter’s Shadow?!”
“Yup.  We came here to get you all out, and to try and get as many of you with us as possible.”
Caleb slammed his fist together.  “Hell yeah!  Count me in!”
It was Wolf who stepped forward.  “I’m glad to hear that.  How many more of you are there?”
The two looked at her, in awe.  The Wolf was a symbol to them.  It was widely believed that she was or had been one of them.
“We’ll take you to the others!  Follow us!”
Wolf held up her head.  “In a minute.  I have a mission to complete here first.”  She attached a remote unit to the supercomputer drives in the room.  They contained terabytes of information inside.  “Oracle, can you get access to the files here?”
She could hear him snickering.  “You bet!  I’ll get started on a download!  Let you know when it’s done.”
“Well done.”  She turned to the two of them.  “Alright, take us to the others!”
The two nodded, motioning for the to follow.  Right as they were about to leave, two more came in.  The first was a young woman, who looked to be about 17.  While none of the others could see it, Wolf could see that she was accompanied by something else.  An abstract creature.  It was made of Nova Particles!  Invisible, but clearly powerful.  It was linked to the young woman.  The other person who came in was Emily.
“Hey Vic, we secured the fifth level!  We’re going to link up with…”  She saw the group of soldiers, looking ready to attack.
“Wait, wait a minute!” Vic said, getting between them.  “They’re friendly!  This is Winter’s Shadow.  Some old friends brought them here.”
She looked over and saw her former comrades.  Her eyes lit up as she ran over to them.
“Oh my god!  You came!”
Full-Crank put his arms around her.  “We never leave a soldier behind!  Ever!”
Radio ran over and hugged her too.  “I was so worried about you!”
Emily smiled, running her hands through her hair.  “I’m so glad you’re here, Stella.”
Behind them, Wolf saw her former lover.  Beneath the mask, she was crying.  She would have given anything to run over and hug her.  To hold her tight and never let her go.  But she couldn’t.  Not here.  Not now.  Firefly looked at her, sending a private comm.
“You okay?”
“Yeah.  Thanks.”
Inferno grabbed the top of Emily’s head, ruffling her hair.  “Well, you certainly spoiled this for us!  Here I thought we would get to look all heroic and rescue you!  Like fucking Galahad!  But it seems you didn’t need it.  Bummer!”
She looked indignant, but she was even happy to see him.  “So, is the Wolf with you?”
Wolf stepped forward.  “I am.  We came here to liberate this facility from the Empire, and to get as many of you as possible to aid our cause.  But we will also be getting the rest of the subjects out as well.  We have facilities where we can house them safely.  I swear to you, your days of suffering are over!”
The group looked happy to hear that.
Caleb stepped forward.  “You couldn’t keep me out of this fight!  I’m in!”
Vic smirked, nodding.  “Same here!  I owe this assholes a few deaths, and I mean to collect!”
Emily nodded as well.  “You couldn’t pay me not to come!”
The young woman she was with seemed very shy.  She had kept back.  All these soldiers, it was very imposing.  The entity linked to her was staring at Wolf.  He could see who she was, just as she could see him.  In a way that only she could hear, he spoke to her.
Go with them, Jenny!  The one who leads them, Wolf, is a friend to us!  I promise.
She felt comforted by that.  “I…I want to come too!  I’m not very good at fighting.  I’ve got basic training, but my talent, it’s more for stealth than anything else.  So I don’t know how useful I would be to you.”  Her voice was so soft.
Ghost appeared out of nowhere, getting on one knee in front of her.  “Stealth just happens to be something that we take very seriously!”
She smiled at him, liking the faceplate of his Armor.
Wolf looked to their newest members.  “Alright, can you tell me where the rest of your forces are?”
Emily nodded.  “Yeah, we were gathering inside of C-block, on sub-level 7.  We found…some allies that we didn’t expect.”  They all got rather quiet.
Wolf decided not to press the issue.  “Alright then, lead the way.”  They walked out of the room.  In her unit, a private comm was established with her.  It was Oracle.
“Hey boss, download finished!  There’s…there’s some stuff that you will want to see.”
“Understood.  Patch it through to my personal database.  And nice work.”
“Not a problem.”  The link was cut off.
What were they involved with, here?  What is that creature with the young girl?  I have a bad feeling about all of this.

The room that they were gathering in was huge!  It was the size of a gymnasium, and looked like one too.  There were dozens of people.  Most of them were small children.  They were covered in bandages and pale as corpses.  There was a man with them, along with four figures who were in the shadows, tending to the wounded.  As the door opened, they all looked up.  Seeing soldiers, the man with the kids spring into action.  It was a sight to behold.  The blood that was all over the room, from the guards they killed, it went toward him!  The blood changed into blades!  They ran along his arm, large and grotesque.
Caleb ran forward.  “It’s all good!  They’re with us!  We got some new allies.  We also ran into some old friends.”
The Specials they had walked forward.  Several in the group were overjoyed.  The older kids ran over, hugging them.
The man with the blades caught sight of Full-Crank and the blades turned back into blood, which splashed into the floor.  “It’s you!”  He ran over, hugging his friend tight.  There was something about their passion of their embrace.  These two had been more than just friends, once.
“It’s good to see you again, Mark.”  Full-Crank had a soft smile about him as they pulled back.  They stared into each other’s eyes.
The four from the shadows came into the light and everyone’s jaws dropped.  They were machines!  Human-shaped machine!  They had glowing blue eyes, with glowing lights on their bodies.  It was incredible!  Wolf could see beneath the bodies.  They were the same as the entity linked to the girl!  They were alive!  That’s when it hit her.  They found a way to make the human consciousness into Nova Particles!  Unbelievable!  The machines looked at her, stopping cold.  Wolf held up her hand, stopping them from speaking.  They knew what she meant.
“My name is Wolf.  I come on behalf of Winter’s Shadow!  We are freeing you from this place!  These monsters won’t be able to hurt you anymore!  However, we can’t do this alone!  We need your help.  Any of you who are willing to fight, we can definitely use the edge.  The enemy has power beyond imagination.  To combat that, we need power of our own.  I cannot make you join us, and if you choose not to, we have facilities where we can house you, safe from the Empire.  But I would appreciate any help you could give.”
The group of them was in awe.  She looked so powerful, standing in front of them.  Her black Armor, with the Wolf’s face.  It was imposing.  The venetian-style cape she had with the design of her logo on it, it was beautiful.
The man named Mark stepped forward.  “You can count me in!  The Empire deserves no mercy from us!”
There was a woman who was barely an adult who came forward.  “I’m with you too!”  Wolf could see something no one else could.  She had invisible hands!  She could tell from their composition, these hands were powerful.  There was a sinking suspicion that a lot of the people ripped in half were done by them.
A young woman came out of the shadows as well.  Her hands were glowing green.  The glow faded, and it was shown that she had been healing wounds.  “I’m with you as well!  I can only heal people, but I will do what I can.”
The four machines also stepped forward.  “We will join your forces also!  It is the least we can do!”  Their voices spoke in unison, with a kind of mechanical edge that made everyone in awe.  Their voices were not angry.  They were soft, contemplative.  It was nice to hear.
Wolf nodded.  “Excellent.  We have a vehicle that can get all of you to safety.  We will set up the rest of the subjects in our housing facilities, where we can get medical care for those who need it.”  She looked at the children, some of whom she could tell could see what she was.  “You don’t have to be afraid anymore.”
There was almost a celebration.  The members of Winter’s Shadow went around, meeting and greeting.  Wolf motioned for the four machines and the young woman with the entity to go with her.  She wanted to talk to them privately.

They were sitting in another room, as Wolf collapsed the faceplate of her Armor.
The machines came forward, touching her face.
“Maker, you have returned!” one of them said.  It was a female voice.
“I have.  My children, I am sorry!  Everything that’s happened to you, it’s all my fault!  The Empire gained this technology from me!”  She felt tears well up.  “Forgive me!”
Another machine approached her.  “Maker, it is not your fault!  It is the Empire!  Monsters, who destroy lives!  They will pay for what they’ve done!”
She smiled at him, rubbing the metallic skin on his face.  “Yes, they will!”  She looked at the girl.  “The creature who is with you, what is his name?”
Jennifer was in shock.  “You can see it?!”
Wolf chuckled.  “The technology that made it, came from me.  I am…Subject Zero.”

After loading everyone onto the command vehicle, they got moving.  They left Lab 451 hanging open like a rotting wound.  When Imperial forces came back, they were just in time to watch it explode.  Bombs were planted on every sub-level.  The entire place collapsed, becoming a giant tomb to everyone inside.  One of the last messages that was sent to the facility was from Prince Adam.

You must destroy lab 451!  Purge all test subjects!  It is highly possible that the Wolf is one of our own!  The facility is compromised.  Do NOT let any of the subjects survive!

It seems that his warning came too late.  It arrived just after the uprising had begun.

Until next time, a quote,

“Don’t push your own feelings on to others!  No matter what pretty words you string together, your kindness is just hypocrisy!  You’re pretending to be nice just to make yourself feel better!”  -Hallelujah Haptism, Gundam 00

Peace out,

Maverick

The Betrayers

Quinn felt Gabby wiggle in her arms.  She ran her fingers through her lover’s hair.  It was so soft, so gentle.  She loved it.  Gabby started to stir, feeling Quinn’s fingers running through her hair.  She reached up and took her hand.
“I wish every morning was like this.”
“So do I,” Quinn replied, smiling down at her.  Gabby righted herself, bringing her lips to Quinn’s.  They felt so good, greeting a new morning together.  Everything was changing so fast, neither of them knew when they would get a chance to do this again.  Especially since they were no longer in the apartment.  The two were in Wolf’s cabin on the Odysseus.  It was docked inside of the Inlet.  Things were changing so fast that nobody knew what was going to happen next.

The Asian Union had made their move.  Russian forces were crossing into Imperial territory in Europe.  They had airships that, while not as advanced as the Empire’s, were able to hold their own.  The Empire had no idea that they were coming.  Meanwhile, forces from Japan, China and Korea were moving into Alaska.  It was an invasion, pure and simple.  Since Prince Adam was heading back to Area 7 and was unable to lead his troops, they had a solid foothold and were able to take over several of the most crucial bases there.  Part of that was due to some excellent intelligence from Winter’s Shadow about where they were housing airships, construction facilities to make them and factories that were producing munitions.  It was a perfect strike on almost all the major targets.  While the fighting was incredibly fierce, they had the foothold they needed.
Meanwhile, the rebellious forces in the conquered EU were also rising up.  It was chaos.  South America was also having revolts.  This was all timed with perfect execution.  The rebellions were almost all put down, but they weakened the Empire’s occupational military and were making their ability to defend their own territories suffer.  Of course, most of the South American nations were not joining in, since the Empire had improved their nations.  The eastern European nations were also on the Empire’s side, since it was the same situation.

Back at the White Palace, the Empress was falling apart.  First her daughter had been threatened, then her eldest son attacked.  Now, her second son, Thomas was injured.  While it wasn’t mortal, the psychological effect was profound.  The Empire had an entire fleet escorting him home.  To make matters worse, Amelia had disappeared.  There was almost no government left in Area 7.  If Adam was unable to find a way to keep things under control, their claim to the nation was going to fall.  Despair was setting in.

Prince Adam was sitting with his brother on the airship that was taking him home.  The Hyperion was going to take him back to the capital.  He had just been informed that Amelia had vanished.  She had left the one Knight of the Crown who was with her behind and was gone.  The Knight was searching everywhere for her.  As was the rest of the military and police.  Quietly, of course.  If word got out to the Numbers that the Viceroy had vanished, anarchy would ensue.  Thomas looked up at him.
“Brother, I’m scared.  This Wolf, she isn’t human!  What are we going to do?!”
He sat back, rubbing his temples.  “I don’t know!  She seems to know all our moves before I make them!”  He thought back to their chess game.  She was keeping pace with me, and I was using strategies that even Father couldn’t go against!  Who is this woman?!  The thoughts were jumbled up in his head in a big way.  He was nervous, but now he had a war to fight with two people.  The AU invasion force and Winter’s Shadow.  Thankfully, the AU was a far easier thing to deal with.  Still, the timing of this couldn’t have been a coincidence.
Thomas looked up at the ceiling.  “Brother, I feel something.  Something dark.  This Wolf, there is a darkness surrounding her.  Not just because we don’t know who she is.  I could almost see her smiling, when she stabbed me.  She was enjoying it!”
That got Adam’s attention.  So, it’s personal.  Is that why she hides her face?  Is she one of us?!  If she is, then it would have to be a member of the Aristocracy.  No commoner could possibly be as skilled and as understanding of the Empire’s weapons and tactics as she is.  Suddenly, the comm beeped.
“Your highness, we received word from our people in the capital of China, the Knight of the Crown was found!”
He buzzed in.  “Where?!  Where the hell was she?!”
“Sir, according to the report, she was found decapitated in a hall leading to the central chamber of the Citadel where the ceremony was being held.  It seems that Wolf was sighted heading that way.”
Adam let his mind calm.  A picture was forming in his mind.  She went to confront Wolf?  Why?  And why did she not have her Armor?  I told her to remain behind.  Why would she disobey me?  As he thought, he remembered something about the ceremony.  Wolf seemed to appear and disappear in an instant!  His eyes went wide.  My Knight’s talent was teleportation!  There is no way that that is a coincidence!  He suddenly had a dark thought.  He stood up fast, rushing out of the room.  He had to get in contact with the people at Lab 451.

The Inlet was abuzz with activity.  They were getting more airships from liberated bases in Alaska.  Fresh out of the factories, they were equipped with some of the best tech that money could buy.  Some new weapons too.  They also got some smaller model airships.  They were a kind of fighter unit that could move with the same engine.  It would make combat times for their ships exponentially longer, since they wouldn’t have to refuel continuously.  The delivery was expected within the week.
Quinn was up and dressed.  Something that Gabby was none-too-thrilled about.  She made noises of protest as her girlfriend wiggled her way out of her arms.  It wasn’t something that she wanted either, but duty called.  They had a new battle strategy to formulate.  Gabby was getting dressed as well, when she saw Quinn put on her mask.  Her transformation to Wolf was complete.
As she got out to where the briefing was to be held, Deathstroke ran over to her.
“Ma’am, I’ve got some news for you!  It’s something that you won’t want to miss!”
She looked over at him.  “I’m listening.”

The entire command crew was gathered inside the briefing room.  There, Inferno, Shockwave, Radio and Full-Crank were standing.  The situation was tense, to put it lightly.
“Why the fuck did you even let them in here, ma’am?!” Ghost snarled.
Wolf was sitting at the front of the room.  Her masked face portrayed no emotion, and underneath, her look was similar.  She was in tactical mode.  A gift had just been presented to her.  She wasn’t going to waste it.
“They came here under a banner of peace, looking to parley with us.  At the very least, I am going to hear what they have to say.”
Bane and Two-Face nodded.  They both understood.  Sure, they weren’t popular, but these monsters got the job done.  As the saying went, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Full-Crank stepped forward, not wanting his two more menacing colleagues to be the ones to speak first.  “I understand your reservations about talking with us.  I promise you, we’re not wasting your time.  We came to you because we have an offer for you.”
Wolf leaned back.  “We’re listening.”
Inferno stepped forward.  “It’s not exactly a secret that us Specials are the talk of the town right now.  Unfortunately, the talk isn’t good.  It’s pretty clear that the moment that the Empire found it convenient, they were going to throw us under the bus.”
Radio chimed in, “they already have got one of us!  They were using us as a convenient scapegoat so that they can look better.”
Deadshot snorted.  “More than you lot deserve, if you ask me!”
Shockwave glared at him.  “If you want to blame anyone for what happened, blame the Empire!  Back when we were trained, we were punished when we hesitated.  We were all just a bunch of kids who had these powers that we didn’t know how to control.  They molded us, shaped us into monsters.  Then, we were set loose with the orders to do as much damaged as we wanted!  They wanted us to be monsters, and that’s exactly what they got.  We never got the chance to be normal, unlike you!”
That deflated a lot of the anger in the room.
Wolf looked at Full-Crank.  “So, what are you all offering us?”
He smiled.  This is going well!  “Well, for starters, you have our service at your command!  Since the Empire has the Knights of the Crown, perhaps you could start your own force!”
Beneath the mask, Wolf smiled.  Not a bad idea!  She nodded.  “And?”
Radio cued up an image on the display table.  It was of a mountain base in Maine.
“This is a facility called Lab 451.”
Everyone sat closer.  Even Captain Matthias was interested.  He was normally aloof to these meetings, since it his job to keep the Odysseus running.
“This is where new subjects are brought and experimented on.  The tests they run are varied, from subject to subject.  The facility has ten levels, each of them very large.  Some are used for training, others are used for housing.  There is even a level where those of us who are not cooperative are held.  It is a kind of prison for Specials, with each cell able to be modified for the needs of the subject inside.  That is where the one of us that they capture is most likely to be.”  Her face got darker.  “There are other levels that we have no knowledge of.  There were rumors of other research being conducted there.  Research that was dangerous and…different.  I never knew the details.  I heard a lot about a ‘Subject Zero,’ who apparently vanished a long time ago.  They were looking for something to do with that.  Don’t know what they found.”
Wolf frowned under the mask.  This could be a problem.  If they continued research like that, who knows what they found out!  Or what they made.  The Specials are not the most trustworthy ally, but for now, I can work with them.
“Inside, there are sure to be many more like us.  In the prison, you will find lots of us who are looking for a chance to make the Empire pay for what they did to us.  The memories, it is hard to sleep some nights.”  She looked sad.  The rest of the group felt the wind go out of their sails even more.
Wolf looked over at Brainiac.  “Could you make Armor units for them?”
The group was stunned.  As was Brainiac.  “Uh, yeah, I’m sure I could.  I would have to get an in-depth analysis of their talents, individually, but I’m sure that I could craft weapons around them.”
She nodded.  “Excellent.”  She turned to face the Specials.  “Now, if I am going to trust you to join us, I have to know, what are you after, once this is done?  I am sure that the rest of those in Area 7 will not be quick to trust you, either.  What do you plan to do once the war is over?”
They were quiet for a few minutes.
Finally, it was Inferno who spoke.  “We want to disappear!  To not have to do this anymore.  To just find a place where we can blend into the rest of society and not have this baggage following us.”  That surprised even the other Specials.  Inferno had been soul-searching lately.  Quite a bit.  “I don’t think that that is an unreasonable request.”  He looked directly at Wolf.  “Do you?”
Everyone looked at her.  She thought for a moment.  It isn’t.  This is…odd.  “I see nothing wrong with it.  So long as you are aware that if you step out of line, once this is done, and you use your talents as weapons, we will end you.  Is that acceptable?”
The group of them nodded.
“Alright then.  Go with Brainiac and get to work on custom Armor units.  You all will be the first members of a new unit that my lieutenants, Deathstroke, Firefly, Deadshot, Ghost and Copperhead are in.  I am calling it – The Knights of the Wolf.”  She looked to everyone else.  “We will formulate a battle plan and move out in two days!  This is too good an opportunity to pass up!”
Radio and the other Specials looked excited.
“Everyone, dismissed!”  They got up to leave.  It was strange, the rest were not a lot kinder to their newest members.  Radio’s story left an impact with all of them.

That night, the Specials were each given their own cabins onboard the Odysseus.  Captain Matthias trusted Wolf’s judgment, and thus far, they had shown no hostile intentions.
Inferno was sitting in his room, staring out the window when there was a knock on his door.  He walked over, opening it.  Shockwave was standing there.
“Mind if I come in?” she asked.
“Of course not.  You know that.”  He smiled at her.
She sat down on his bed.  “What you said today, you meant it, didn’t you?”
He nodded.  “I did.  I’m tired of being a monster, Elsa.  I want a real life!  I want chance to live, without constantly having to fight.  I want to know what the rest of the world cares so much about.”  He sat down next to her.  “What about you?  What do you want after all this?”
She looked out the window as well.  “The truth is, I don’t know.  It’s just…this is all I know how to do!  I don’t know how to fix things or make things or do pretty much anything except kill.  The only times when I haven’t want to kill things are when…”
He sat closer.  “When what?!”
Her eyes met his.  “When I’m with you.  I love you, Alex.”
Their lips met, with the two of them falling back.  The passion in the room, it was intense.  Neither one of them wanted it to stop.

Taking off her mask, Quinn sat at her desk.  She got Oracle to cue in and look into this facility, along with do some research on another project.  She heard Gabby come in.
“Can we talk?” she asked.
Quinn turned around.  “Sure.  You know that you can always talk to me.”  She caught the look in Gabby’s eyes.  “You’re upset with me, about taking in the Specials, aren’t you?”
In a flash, anger kicked in.  “How could you do that?!  Those people are monsters!  Do you have any idea how many of my friends those psychopaths killed?!”  Tears were welling up.
She nodded.  “I do, Gabby.  But right now, we can’t afford to turn away help!”  She cued up a display of the battle map she had made.  “We have a lot of things going our way, but the Empire’s military is vast and it is easily able to be replenished.  This is a critical moment in our war with them.  If we can get others from that Lab that they were talking about on our side, then we will finally have an edge on the Empire that they can’t counter!  I know how hard this will be for you, but you have to understand why we’re doing this!”  She got up and walked over.  She ran her hand across Gabby’s face.  “I need you with me on this, Gabrielle!  I can’t do this alone!”
Gabby took her hand, holding it there.  “I am with you, Quinn.  I’m not going anywhere.  But, if we invade this place, and you find Emily there.”  She turned away.  “You still love her.  I know you do!  I could almost feel you thinking about her when they talked about that prison.”
Quinn stepped back, sitting on her bed.  “I do love her.  I always will.  I won’t lie to you about that.  But, with everything that’s happened…I don’t know.”
Her girlfriend sat beside her on the bed, kissing her neck.  “If you go back to her, I won’t stop you.  I will stay by your side, for as long as you need me.”
There was a long time when nobody talked.  “I won’t make any judgments.  Not yet.  Let’s leave it at that, for now.”  The two laid down, holding each other close.

They were finally ready.  Between the two of them, Emily and Vic were now more powerful than ever.  Emily had learned how to possess even inanimate objects.  It wasn’t as strong of a connection, but it was enough.  She had also increased her distance of being able to control people.  She had used it on a couple of sleeping guards earlier.  The two looked at each other, smiling.  It was time!
Vic charged up her energy fields.  In waves of blue light, they came around her.  They got stronger and stronger, until she went running at the door.  She blasted the fields forward, ripping it off its hinges.  The door was reinforced by materials that nobody knew existed, and it was destroyed as if it wasn’t there.  Ripped open like a gaping wound, the two attacked.  Emily took control of several of the guards who came in, having them open fire on the others.  After those guards were killed, she had their corpses still fire.  These guards were smart.  They blew the legs off of the moving corpses, making it so that she couldn’t use them anymore.
How clever of them!
Vic slammed the other guards into the wall, with blood and some brain matter splashing out.  Large swaths of other guards came out to meet her.  They fired, but she had a strong barrier.  Not one bullet touched her.  She smiled at them.
“Hello, dead people!”

Until next time, a quote,

“I knew I smelled murder on that bitch.” -Jack, Mass Effect 2

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

Arkham Origins CoverNow, when I first saw previews for this game, I wasn’t all that excited.  The track record for Origin stories is bad.  Let’s all be willing to admit that.  But, as I got to learn more and more about it, I became more interested.  Ironically, it was the reverse of what happened with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.  That game, I was interested until I got to learn about it.  That and after the shitty ending to III, I kind of got AC out of my system.  But, with that said, let’s talk about this game.  First thing you should know – it is a very different kind of game from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.  However, that’s not a bad thing, in this case.  This game is still very fun.  Is it as good as Arkham City (the best in the franchise thus far, I don’t care if you agree with me or not)?  No.  It is more like Arkham Asylum, with a much bigger space to roam around in.  In fact, it is the game with the most space thus far.

So, following my formula, let’s first look at the plot.  One of my little nitpicks is involved with this.  Unlike its predecessors, this game gives you a very short introduction and just throws you into it.  While the other two kind of did that, they both had a premise that was one that you were able to latch onto.  Part of the reason that Arkham City is the best of the series is that it has an amazing opening that gets your blood pumping.  This game doesn’t have that.  In fact, the acts of this game are a little hard to follow.  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Up front, they say that this game takes place about five years before the events of Arkham Asylum.  I am going to call bullshit on that right now.  Given what I saw in the previous games, along with what characters talked about and how they looked and sounded, this game is, at the very least, ten years prior.  For me, I thought it was 15 or 20, but that’s neither here nor there.  The plot goes that Batman stops Black Mask at Blackgate Prison, only to find out that there are eight assassins who are after him.  He has one night stop them all, and they have one night to kill him.  Meanwhile, there are lots of other of his typical guests who have come to the party.  Since this is an Origin story, they treat it like they are first meeting, and it is handled well.  The scenes where Batman is talking to “Enigma” (before he was The Riddler) were just hilarious.  The clock is ticking while the city is coming apart at the hands of the very worst of those that Batman has had to deal with.  There is one party-crasher, however, who makes things go from bad to worse.  I probably don’t have to tell you who that is.

So, I want to say again that I think that this game is fun.  I have enjoyed it a great deal and having a new studio to work on it didn’t do that much damage.  But, there are a few things that I want to bring issue to that kind of got under my skin.  With open world games, the biggest thing that can work against them is that they don’t feel lived in.  The previous games in the Arkham franchise never suffered from this.  The world was always incredibly detailed and there were lots of conversations with thugs that you could hear, making it so that you were always in-the-know about what was going on.  This game, on the other hand, doesn’t have that.  How they cover it is pretty smart.  They have a really bad blizzard going on, so the people are staying indoors and the detail isn’t that big an issue because the world is covered in white.  It works okay, but it is a bit of an annoyance.

The second major issue I have is that this is supposed to be an Origin story, and yet you have the same gadgets that you did in previous games.  In fact, it feels like most of your toys got an upgrade.  I kept hoping that I would have to really dig into a crime scene and dissect it, to do the detective angle more raw.  It is still cool in this game, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that the toys that were in development in the last game, which takes place (to me) about 15-20 years later, are something you immediately have, it’s kind of a button-issue.

Those are the biggest of my gripes.  So, let’s talk about what I like.  While the over-world environments are not especially detailed, the interior locations are awesome!  Since the game is set on Christmas Eve, the way they use colored lights is just awesome.  The use of color in this game definitely pops.  Since I have it on console, there are sometimes texture pop-in issues, but it isn’t so bad that it got in the way.  The characters all look great too.

Now, another nitpick of mine is that I don’t like the guy they got to replace Kevin Conroy in this game.  With that said, I cannot tell you how much I love Troy Baker’s interpretation of the Joker.  This is a man who has shown his voice-acting chops in three amazing games this year (including this one).  It is clear that he doesn’t just do a role.  He gets into it.  He clearly took some cues from Mark Hamill’s portrayal, because he is faithful to it.  The look of the new character is nice too, but true to its roots.  I cannot tell you how much I like that character.  I also loved the guy they had doing Enigma’s (Riddler’s) voice.  They got the same guy they had in Arkham City, and his snide wit was just too much.  He owns that role, and I hope they keep in for what I feel will be the final installment in this franchise (the sequel to Arkham City).

I also love the boss fights.  Since you are fighting assassin’s in this game, it makes sense that you can’t make many mistakes.  On Hard level difficulty, you have only one or two mistakes you can make, and after that, you’re done!  Let me tell you, the Deadshot final confrontation on Hard was the most nerve-wracking thing that I have ever done.  But my personal favorite boss fight in this game was Copperhead.  How they animated her flexibility was awesome, and they even had some fun with a toxin that she uses on people and having it fuck with Batman.  It is intense!  So much fun.

So, what rating do I give this game?  I didn’t cover half the little nitpicks that I have with it, because I know that that would bore you to tears, but there are some issues.  It is fun, but it is not what its predecessors were.  I know that I shouldn’t judge it next to them, but it can’t be helped.  Arkham City raised the pedestal for a superhero game so high that a prequel could never reach those heights.  But for fans of the franchise, have no fear.  It is a good game and very worth your time.  I think that I have come up with a fair rating to give it.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Reporter (Part II)

She found herself in Toronto.  This story was everything she wanted it to be.  The Wolf was about as secretive as one could be.  Her clearance with the Empire got her into security archives.  She wanted to get early footage of her.  Right now, she could talk to her, and still was.  Her relationship with Wolf was going strong, as she gave them what they wanted.  But that was going to change.  Sure, when the story broke, she knew that she had better be miles upon miles away, but still, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

The earliest data she could find on her was camera footage.  It was vague, but there were reports of someone helping a group of insurgents.  She scoured every single bit of camera footage she could get.  Had to do a couple “favors” for the guys who had the camera data, but it was worth it.  In spades.  The ghettos had little camera access.  What they did get they often lost, from Runners and common crooks.  Elena was in her element as she poured through each and every file.  She saw the battle with the Imperial forces, how the Runners were transporting things to specific places.  Who could order the Runners?  They answer to nobody.  That question led her to track them.  They had to be in contact with Wolf.  They had to.
Sure enough, she found what she was looking for.  One of the Runners, a young woman.  She was meeting up with the person leading them regularly.  All I need is a face, then I’ve got her!  The lack of camera access was more than a little frustrating at this point.  But she was patient.  Hours into the night, she finally found what she was looking for.  The Runner met up with someone.  It was a young woman with very short, spiked hair.  But she never showed her face.  Dammit, one of these cameras has got to get me this!  It became a war of wills at this point to get the footage she wanted.  Finally, after the sun came up, she found what she was looking for.  She was looking into the face of a young woman with red eyes.  She used an algorithm to search through various databases for the face in the image.  It wasn’t a complete image, but she was willing to bet that something turned up.
Something did.  The machine beeped when it found a record.  That was when another piece of the puzzle fell into place.  It found a couple of records.  The first was from 14 years ago.  The name of this girl was Cecilia Fontaine.  She was the adopted daughter of a wealthy family in Area 7.  They lost their own child to “causes unknown.”  Their original daughter just up and got sick, very suddenly.  The cause of her death was never determined.  Then, they adopt this other girl, who vaguely looked like their child.  The machine only caught it due to the red eyes.  Odd.  The next time that the data on the girl turned up, it was in the Royal Academy of the Empire of America, Area 7.  A school for Honorary Americans and children of the Aristocracy who wanted to study abroad.  Only this time, the girl had a different name and looked exactly like the one in the photograph.  Stranger still, the family who sent her there had no record of adopting this girl.  Her new name was Quinzel Wolfe.  Something not right here.  Elena knew her next destination.  She was headed to meet the Fontaine family and get some answers.

The house of the Fontaine’s was a very upscale one.  An old house from a rich estate, Elena drove up to the gate and buzzed it.
A butler came on.  “Yes?”
She smiled into the camera.  “Hey there.  My name is Elena Aronno.  I work for the Imperial Office of Honorary Registration.  I had a couple questions for the residents here, since a couple of indiscretions came up in their paperwork.  Nothing serious, but we would like to have it cleared as soon as possible.  Are the Fontaine’s home, at the moment?”
The butler nodded.  “They are.  I’m sure that they would be happy to help clear things up with your office.”
“That’s very good.  Hopefully we can clear this matter up and they will have nothing to worry about.”
The gate opened and she drove in.  The husband of the house met her at the door.
They shook hands.  “I’m glad that you came in person, Ms. Aronno.  My name is Morgan Fontaine.”
She smiled at him.  “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fontaine.  Since you are one of wealthiest benefactors, we felt it was only right to do this in person, so you don’t have to be too inconvenienced.”
The man’s wife came out as well.  “Ah, you must be the one that our butler talked about, the woman from the Office of Honorary Registration?”
Elena held out her hand.  “Yes, My name is Elena Aronno.  I promise, this will only take a minute.  Nothing serious, but worth talking about.  Sorry to disturb you, but it had to be dealt with.”
The woman shook her head.  “Think nothing of it.  We’re happy to help the Empire!  We are Honorary citizens, after all.”
“Excellent.  Well, if we could just go inside, I can be out of your hair very soon.”
They were very cordial as they went inside.  These people were loyal to the Empire, in the extreme.  But their wealth had come from it, so Elena wasn’t surprised.  These people’s loyalty was bought and paid for.
They went into their den, which was a very cozy place with large windows for viewing the lake that they lived on.  Their servants brought them some tea and dessert.  It was a quaint little affair.
Elena took a file out of a briefcase she had with her, looking very professional.
“Well, I’m sure you’re both wondering why I’m here.  I’ll get right to it.  We had some indiscretions with your registration paperwork.  I don’t know how it slipped our notice until now, but things fall between the cracks.”  She set out copies of the registration paperwork that she had copied from the Office of Honorary Registration.  “Currently, you have only two people registered as Honorary Americans.  However, your paperwork originally had three people registered.”
The Fontaines looked very confused.  She set out the paperwork for Cecilia Fontaine.
“This person was registered as your adopted daughter.  Does the name Cecilia Fontaine mean anything to you?”
Both of them looked more confused.
The husband took the paper and looked it over.  “Not a thing.  We never had an adopted daughter.  Our actual daughter, Celia, was killed in a car wreck.”
She even used a name close to their daughter!  But how did she get them to forget?!
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Elena replied somberly.
“Yes, it was a terrible incident.  As for who this woman is, I can’t say.”
The reporter picked up the paper, putting on a look of deep thought.  Though she already knew part of the story.
“Hm, well then it seems that you two are the victims of identity theft.  Probably the strangest case of it that I have ever seen!”
Mrs. Fontaine looked a little upset.  “Whoever would do that to us?!  What a cruel thing to do.”
Elena nodded.  “Most certainly.  What the objective of this thief was is unclear.  I will have to do more digging.  I will keep you posted.”  Suddenly, she had a thought.  She took out a picture of Quinzel and placed it in front of them.  “Does this person look familiar to you?”
The two examined the picture and both of them nodded.  “Yeah, yeah it does.  I remember a few years back, a girl who looks like this was at the house.  Can’t remember why she came, but it was a very somber day.  It’s so strange, ever since that day, it’s like we have forgotten some huge part of our lives.  But the girl was very courteous, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.”

Quinn walked back to the house.  It was a place where she had spent so many years.  She always did feel a little guilty, using these people for her own ends.  She used the death of their daughter against them by obtaining her DNA.  The child was a victim of Nova Particle poison.  It was a new condition that manifested very rarely.  But, it was something that worked for her.  Now that she had gotten the talent she wanted from the Viceroy, she knew what had to be done.  It was a feeling that did not make her feel good.
The door opened and the two of them lit up.
“Cecilia, you’re home!” Meredith exclaimed, running over and hugging her. 

Yeah, mom.  I am.”  She hugged her back, knowing that this was going to be the last time.
She had them gather both the parents and servants in the den.  She told them that she had a surprise for them all.
The group was gathered and everyone looked excited.  These were people that Quinn had known for years and were all friends.  But this was for their own safety. 
“So, what is this surprise, Cece?” Morgan asked.
She felt like she was going to cry.  “For years, you all have been kind to me.  Treated me like I am one of your own.  I want you all to know, that means everything to me.  So, with that in mind, I have something for all of you.”  Everyone looked on the verge of tears.  Quinn closed her eyes.  When they opened, they were glowing blue.  “I want all of you to forget about me.  Completely.  Forget who I am.  Forever.”
There were noises of confused protest until everyone suddenly calmed down.  They looked up at her, very confused.
“Well, what are we all gathered here for?” the butler asked.
Quinn put on an amused face.  “I’m from Empire magazine, taking a picture of one of the wealthiest families in Area 7, remember?  It’s for an article on what Honorary citizenship can do for the Numbers.”
The lot of them were confused, but then took to the idea.  Quinn came prepared.  She had a very expensive and good camera with her.  It was made for professional photography.
The lot of them made themselves look very presentable, smiling.  Quinn took the picture, thanked them.  As she was leaving she looked back at them.
“Thank you, for everything
.”

“We never saw her again after that,” Mrs. Fontaine said.  “We saw the article a few weeks later.  It was very good.  Still, an odd day.”
Elena sat there, both confused and amazed at the same time.  How did she do it?!  How did she get them all to just up and forget about her?  The family hadn’t remembered her telling them to forget, but it was clear as day to her what had happened.  Now, more than ever, she was determined to know who this woman was.

The next stop was at the Academy.  When she arrived, she was in shock.  The entire place was closed!  There wasn’t a single soul on the the grounds.  The entire place looked like something out of a horror film.  She got through the gate by squeezing through the bars.  Getting into the building wasn’t hard.  Crooks had gone to work on the place, so she only had to slide in through one of the busted windows.
This place was in ruin.  The classrooms, hallways and dormitories were torn apart.  It made Elena a little freaked out.  She heard the wind echo through the Academy and it was like ghosts passing her by.  She ran to the office, looking to see where student records were.  They were all online, and thankfully the computers and databases were intact.  Guess the common criminal has no use for government computers.  Who knew?  The power was still running here, so she booted up the system.  The student records were all there, and she knew what she was looking for.  After a bit of digging, she found what she wanted.

Quinzel Wolfe
Age: 16
Place of origin: Area 7, Toronto
Hair color: Red (when not dyed)
Eye color: Red
Summary: Transferred from the Imperial Acclimation School, District 21.  Preliminary testing indicated near super-human intellect.  When asked to transfer to a school for gifted youth, she declined.  Declined offer from Empire to be placed in Special Education (as a pretense to induction into the Specials).  One known friend, Emily Bequette, daughter of Rear Admiral Bequette.  Some reports of the two being closer than friends.  Watchers from the Specials have been tasked to look into that.  No major issues flagged.  Student is quiet, often seems unconcerned and bored and makes no attempt to get involved in the school, outside academics.  Repeated tardiness and absences is a minor issue, but she never falls behind in her schoolwork.

There were lists of grades, of which were at the top of her class, academic commendations and some awards that she jilted because she didn’t care (which was something amazement to Elena, as she would never have thought to not even accept an award.  Especially not some of the ones that she was placed in).  Then, something caught her eye.

Flagged issue: Student was found in the edge of campus.  Found naked, locked up in a steel device.  Security report attached.

Elena flipped right to it, feeling her stomach suddenly sicken.  The girl was stripped naked, raped and left to die.  Reports were that no suspects were apprehended and none were even identified.  There was suspicion that it was motivated by Imperial arrogance, as she had been a Number.  The girl was taken to the East Block Hospital.  She copied the file to her drive and left this place, which was now a husk of what it had once been.  An abandoned relic that Winter’s Shadow was sure to destroy.

The hospitals all kept data on PRISM, which Winter’s Shadow had given her access to.  She got back to the motel she was staying at and got to work.  There were a TON of flagged issues on this.  The two that caught Elena’s eye were that a Special had been by Quinzel’s side from the very beginning, never leaving it.  It was a huge issue, as the Special had maimed and killed a few people who tried to get her to leave.  The girl was then blackmailed into leaving by her commanding officer, who used the affection she had for Quinzel as a means to control her.  That officer paid for it with dozens of broken bones.
The next issue were the results from a blood test that was done on the girl.  According to the findings, they weren’t human.  But there was another flagged issue as well. According to the blood, there was one DNA pattern analyzed.  She got it loaded up and then was in shock.  The DNA was a match to Eleanor Ann Fox.  The daughter of the Fox family, but there was something else.  She was a direct descendent of the Emperor!  Elena nearly gagged on her drink when she read it.  The leader of Winter’s Shadow is an American!  A fucking Aristocrat?!  A fucking child of the royal family?!  There were no words.  The reporter was in shock.  This was the biggest scoop of her entire life.  But she needed more.  There were some unanswered questions that she needed, and she was going to get the answers, one way or the other.

Until next time, a quote,

“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” – Mark Twain

Peace out,

Maverick

RE: Conversations with an Atheist (Part II!)

Well, something I didn’t expect happened.  The author of the book in the first post I did on this (linked here) actually saw the post and got back with me.  As expected, there were the usual “I pray for atheists” and whatnot statements.  To her credit, she seems nice enough.  But she gave me a new list of questions to answer, saying that once I tackle them, I am going to (and I quote),

“You will arrange a big pile of wood, put evolution on the top of it, set fire and burn it, in other words you will kill and bury evolution by your own hands for ever and ever. There will be no evolution on this planet earth, there will be only creation.”

Since she asked politely, I figure that I might as well rise to her challenge.  I know full-well that this won’t change anything.  She writes with the same vim and vigor that those who are “born-again” do, so I know that my answers will change nothing, but here goes.

Who wants there to be life on this planet earth, nobody or somebody?

Nobody.  It’s a freak accident.  Life on this planet is a tiny film that is going through the cosmos and can be destroyed at any second!  A giant asteroid, a black hole zipping around the stars (which we know there is at least one) or any number of things could destroy us at any second.  We’re the end product of random chance.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Whose idea was it to establish the method of reproduction for mankind and all living beings, nobody’s or somebody’s?

Again, nobody.  We evolved this way because of natural selection.  The reproductive processes of humans was the most efficient way that nature gave us.  I mean, humans don’t reproduce with parthenogenesis.  If we did, there would be only females (because that kind of reproduction can only create female offspring).  Your need to prescribe this to a supreme being interests me, but I already covered this in my last post.  In fact, a lot of questions you submitted were in my last post, but whatever.

Who inserted in a woman’s body the organ and commanded it to produce eggs?

NOBODY!  Wow, broken record!  It is all evolution.  We evolved from mammalian ancestors who laid eggs this way, so that’s why we do.  And by the way – are you saying that women who are infertile are basically just not loved by God?  With the phrasing you used, infertile women must have just failed his mandate, huh?  That’s cold, even to me.

Who inserted in a man’s body the organ and commanded it to produce sperms in equal pairs constantly without mistakes?

Are you kidding me?!  Where did you get your sexual education?!  Mistakes happen ALL the time!  Tons and tons of fertilized eggs fail before they even have a chance to develop, then get rinsed out a woman’s body during her menstrual cycle.  This question is so dumb it hurts.  Oh, and it was nobody.  Again.

Who put life in each sperm, nobody or somebody?

There isn’t “life” in each sperm.  There is genetic material.  Life is something the egg has.  Your need to inflate the male involvement in sexual development is touching, but wrong.  Something interesting she adds is that there is some perfect balance of men and women in the world that she alludes is kept by God.  Uh…you don’t read much non-Christian news, do you?  China is having a big problem with one gender being too prevalent.  I’ll give you a hint- they were “given” the “male organ.”

Who did it all and who keeps this order, nobody or somebody?

I just talked about this, so yeah, next question.

Do you really think that nothing or nobody can do perfect things?

So, your argument is that God did all perfect things.  Here is a list of imperfect things that, if you believe he created everything, he is responsible for –

Disease
Cancer
Birth defects
Autism
Wisdom teeth (something that we naturally evolved to no longer need in real life.  Much like the human appendix, but this is her logic)
The appendix
The fact that we eat and breathe with the same pipe
The fact that human bodies are so unbelievably frail on a world where we have countless things trying to kill us

So now, his “creation” isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  It’s actually kind of weak and pathetic.  Only our brains give us an advantage, and that doesn’t say much.

Do you really think that nothing or nobody possessed wisdom, consciousness, awareness, creativity, love and so on and passed it to human beings?

This started out kind of fun, but has become tiring and repetitive.  She’s asking the same question, over and over again.  Yes, I don’t think that anything existed and gave us lots of the all-positive emotional values that you prescribed there.  But here’s a thought – what about the dark stuff?  The Old Testament God was a monster.  No question.  He was a psychopath who killed, destroyed and commanded his armies to rape and murder.  If you are going to talk about some perfect and wise being, you have reconcile with that.  What happened to this evil guy?  Did he get some anger management classes?  He must have, with all the goodness you say he is.

Who prepared all necessities for existence of mankind? Did the earth by itself have the knowledge that someday humans would appear on it and decided to prepare a feast for them and started to produce vegetables, fruits, berries and seeds full of minerals, vitamins and aroma? or was it commanded by a higher Authority?

This series of questions has literally given me all the answer I need.  You’re not going to listen to five bits what I say here.  Not at all.  You already have this wonderful view of God in your head and it isn’t going to change.  Nothing I say will even sway it.  I’m answering your latest questions because you asked nice and you were polite, which is more than I can say for most Christians.  But, I’ll answer them anyway.  Do you have any idea just how much work people who CLEARLY you know nothing about work to make the things that you comment on something that you can consume.  Nature didn’t just “give” us this stuff.  We worked for it.  The world we live in now is a product of millions of people who grow things, pick things and make them safe for consumption.  You have all the arrogance of the person who says that it wasn’t the doctor and the people who helped them who got a loved one through surgery.  It was Gawd.  Egotism, born if ignorance.  You said that I would go after you personally, and I suppose I am, but you know what, this is kind of insulting to me.  You stand on the backs of geniuses who gave us this world and you don’t credit their work.  You stand on the backs of laborers who are working for slave wages to put food on your table, and the only person that gets your respect is God.  That’s kind of offensive, Ms. Balabat.

When you sit at the table and see an onion, garlic, black pepper, horse radish and blueberries ask yourself: “Who wants me to be here, who prepared all these goodies for my existence, who loves me, for what reason and purpose was I born?”

Again, not acknowledging the people who grew, picked and prepared your food.  Disgusting, offensive and morally bankrupt, but whatever.  There is no one who loves us and has a “purpose” for us.

Life on this planet is a tiny film.  7% of the entire planet is habitable.  We are the result of blind cosmic luck, and if you actually think about it, you are actually devaluing the beauty of our existence here by believing that it is something that some deity just made in seven days (but who made the rest of the cosmos as an afterthought).  You are taking something that is so precious and so beautiful and making it stupid and easy to digest.  What’s more, given the size of this cosmos and the amount of stars and planets there are, it is literally impossible that we are the only life forms in this universe.  It’s impossible!  So there are countless species out there who are like us.  Miracles of evolution.  You are not only devaluing the beauty of our existence, but theirs too, by pointing out that we have a God who made everything for us.  Just us.  And that’s all I have for you, Ms. Balabat.  I know that my words mean nothing to you.  It’s all just something you will log away as some dumb atheist who is going to burn in Hell.  So yeah, you didn’t make me wanna burn my belief in evolution.  You just made me feel sorry for you.  And don’t “pray” for me.  I don’t want it.  If there is a God, I mean to kick his ass when I meet him.  I think I’m owed that.

Until next time, a quote,

“Now, there is a big difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament and that is, the New Testament God is really kind of a great guy.  He is.  Especially when you compare him to the Old Testament God, who is a prick!  I don’t know what happened to God, over time.  How he matured, if he went to an anger management class.  Or if the birth of a son calmed him down.  But before he had the kid, holy fuck!  He was out of control!”  -Lewis Black

Peace out,

Maverick

Girl Scouts Makes Girls Gay! (or so this idiot pastor thinks…)

It’s not often that I get to mock some insane religious nutjob in a way that is entertaining.  The last time I got to do this was when I went after the man who thought that Pokemon were the gateway drug to satanism.  That was fun.  Now, we have a man who thinks that the Girl Scouts and buying Girl Scout cookies endorses lesbianism.  I’m going old-school with this and going to do a hit-for-hit response.  Here is a link to the source, and the man speaking is Pastor Kevin Swanson.  Enjoy.

Individualism of feminism has been devastating this country!

You know, I have a lot of problems with modern feminism.  There are those who ardently support that it is just as good as old-school feminism, claiming that it is just the fringes who are the insane misandristic sociopaths who want the world to become their little feminist utopia.  And yet, they aren’t public about it.  They write books (that no one reads, because they don’t know the exist) and make blog posts (that no one sees because they don’t market), occasionally.  And that is for the same reason that Christians who are no insane doing actively go after their colleagues who are – because they don’t want to fight their own people.  But when you start off your statement about this with that, it just invalidates everything else that will follow afterwards.

Dave, yeah, I just say no to the Girl Scout cookies too!

So do I, but I have a smart reason – they are too damn expensive and the boxes are too small.  Learn the market you’re working in, ladies!  But don’t worry.  His reasons are hilarious.

I mean, I don’t want to support lesbianism!

How much do you wanna bet that this guy either does or has fapped to lesbian porn in the past?

I don’t want to support Planned Parenthood and I don’t want to support abortion!

Wow!  That logic train is about as good as the one Yoda used in Phantom Menace.  Yes, if you support the Girl Scouts and buy their over-priced cookies, you are supporting abortion and Planned Parenthood.  I can’t wait to hear this idiot try and justify this.

And if that be the case, I’m not buying Girl Scout cookies!

I’m sure they’re going to miss you.

Now, I suppose if you take a big fat black magic marker and said, “gimme that box!” and you start making out all of the references to the Girl Scouts of America on all of the boxes, then maybe then maybe we’re not promoting that organization anymore and I’d be willing to buy it.

If anyone in the Girl Scouts is in my audience, can you hit me up and tell me if you actually care if this egotist does or doesn’t buy your cookies?  I would genuinely like to know.

Maybe so.  Maybe it’s not food offered to idols anymore.

What?!  What the hell do “idols” have to do with this?!

If I have the chance to scratch out references to the Girl Scouts of America offered to me and safely.

Wow, I guess that you Girl Scouts are just worshiping Satan now, since apparently you’re all lesbians.  You think he faps to that thought?

You know, those are some pretty expensive cookies you’re eating, though.

That was his co-host interjecting.  I get the feeling that they share the same brain cell between them.

Yeah, that’s true.
And you have to, at some point the Christian has to say ‘the Earth is the Lord’s,’ and where you spend your money, it really does count.

Yeah, why spend money where you want to?  That money could be helping Gawd!  If this God character really gives a shit if you spend your money on cookies, then why on Earth do you worship him?!  This man is pathetic!  So unbelievably pathetic!  This is kind of sad.

And I don’t want to promote a wicked organization!  That is, according to its own website, doesn’t promote ‘godly womanhood.’

Ah, yes.  Do you remember “godly womanhood,” ladies?  When you were to be silent in church and if you had any questions, you would ask your husband when you got home? (1 Corinthians 14:34) That must have been cool.  Or the belief that your husband could rape you and it would be okay, because he’s your husband (or you had to marry your rapist, as in Deuteronomy 22:28-29).  Wouldn’t that be so much better?!  To have no control over your bodies, and for your husband to be your master?  Wouldn’t you like that?

It doesn’t!  I don’t see anything that promotes ‘godly womanhood.’

Good on you, Girl Scouts.  Good on you.

The vision of Girl Scouts of America is antithetical to the biblical vision of womanhood, friends.  It’s antithetical to it!

I would give the Girl Scouts a hug.  Now I kind of feel guilty I didn’t buy more cookies.  For real, I’m buying a fuck-ton when they are going on.

Please, I beg of you, do not buy Girl Scout cookies!  Please, I bet of you, stop buying Girl Scout cookies!  And if you do, please take a big black magic marker and cross out every reference to Girl Scouts of America on every sign and on all the boxes, because we don’t want to promote that organization.

Please, I beg of you, buy Girl Scout cookies.  I will swallow my pride and admit that I was wrong.  If buying cookies helps Planned Parenthood and makes all girls lesbians, I can live with that just fine.  I’m a guy who likes two girls making out, I support equal rights to marriage (I mean, if they can fuck, why can’t they marry?  Seems hypocritical to me) and I urge you – promote this.  Because it is better than “godly womanhood.”  Of that, I can assure you.

This man is a fucking idiot, hilarious to listen to and someone I will check in on again in the near future.  Laugh-fucking-riot.  Oh, and if any Girl Scouts read this, make sure that you troll him like he has never been trolled before.

Until next time, a quote,

“Just because a majority of people think that something is right doesn’t make it right!  You don’t have to agree just for the sake of agreeing.”  -Jaclyn Glenn, 10 Things Christians Should Know About Homosexuality

Peace out,

Maverick

The Diplomat (Part Two)

Wolf shook Li’s hand, sitting down.  “You know the situation that is facing me.  I have no time and no idea what to do.  I’m hoping that you have a plan.”
The man had a stone-cold serious face.  “I do.  My people represent a faction of the Chinese people who are looking to reclaim our country back from the people who are now leading it.  Our Empress is good woman.  She is loyal to the people, but she no longer has any power left.  We mean to take it back.  If this wedding goes through, the we will be the Empire’s puppets.  I won’t let that happen!  But the fact is, I am no commander.  I am a soldier.  We need your help.”

Five days later…

The board was made of marble, with pieces of white and black polished stone.  The Prince took the white pieces,  Wolf took the black.  That didn’t bother her one bit.  It was a color she always favored.  The Prince moved first and the game was on.
Thomas and the others were on the edge of their seats.  Each move was like a hit.
The Empress looked over at Thomas.  “This is like a fight, isn’t it?”
He nodded.  “Yeah, looks that way.  And thus far, it looks like they’re evenly matched!”  The Prince couldn’t believe it.  Nobody had ever stood tall to his brother.  Ever.  Who is this woman?!
The battle went on for almost an hour.  To all those watching, it was nail-biting tension.  Both of them had only a few pieces left on the board.  Adam moved his rook and looked over at Wolf.
She chuckled darkly.  “Well.  I never expected you to turn the tables on me so quickly.  Admirable.  In that case, I have but one choice.”  She took her king and moved it forward.  The room was in shock.
Prince Adam looked at her.  “But that’s your king!  You’re sending your king into battle?!”
Beneath her mask, she smiled.  “If the King is unwilling to lead, how does he expect his subordinates to follow?!”
The Prince smiled back her.  Genuine admiration was flowing through him.  “Well-put!  In that case, I think I shall move mine as well.  The White King never backs down from a fight.”
The two kings approached each other.  Soon only a space apart.  No other pieces could move without putting the person who moved them into check.
Prince Adam let out a small sigh, “Well, this is turning into quite the mess, isn’t it?”
Wolf chuckled.  “While it wasn’t my intention, shall we call it a draw?”
He looked back up at her, his eyes laser-focused.  “You underestimate the White King, Wolf.”  He moved his king forward.  “And with that, I call Checkmate.”
Thomas sat forward.  “Unbelievable!  If Wolf moves forward, she will take his king!”
Beneath her mask, Wolf was snarling.  He DARES hand me a victory!  This scum has deigned to let me have this match!  “What is this?!  I will not accept it!”  She took her king and moved it back.  The room was buzzing again.
“Why would she move back?!” The Empress whispered.
Adam was even more impressed.  “My father would have moved in and taken the king without a second thought.  I am learning just what kind of woman you really are, Wolf.  You have my respect.  But, as this situation will lead us into stalemate, I’m afraid that I must call it a draw.”  He stood up, holding out his hand.
Wolf stood up as well, shaking it.  “Indeed.  Well-played, Adam.”
Everyone was shocked again.  For her not to acknowledge his royalty, it was unthinkable.
Right as he was going to move back, his Knight teleported in and grabbed her.
“Stop right there, Wolf!  You’re not going anywhere!  I’m getting revenge for Gerard right here and now!”
The eye-pieces to her mask opened, with a glowing blue eye looking at her.  “Let me go, now!”
The Knight knew what was happening and she tried to fight it.  But she eventually drew back.  “Of course.  I’m sorry.”
The eye-piece closed.  “I think I will take my leave, Prince Adam.  Enjoy the wedding.”  She stormed out, silently berating the entire situation.  If my plan tomorrow fails, then it’s all over.
The Knight got her senses back and saw that Wolf was gone.  Prince Adam was giving her a dark look.
“We will talk about this later!”  He was angry.  His Knight had not only disrespected the civil game he had played but had disrespected him as well.  He didn’t plan to take her to the wedding the next day.  The Knight was standing there in shock.  The Wolf is one of us!  Why would one of us do this?!

The day of the wedding and the entire city was buzzing.  Or at least, the rich and powerful were.  There was an oddly-dark mood purveying around the rest of the crowd.  Thomas was aware of this as they drove through the streets with their assembly toward the Citadel where the ceremony was taking place.  The place was a marvel to look at.  But the mood of the crowd was something that Thomas couldn’t escape.  Why am I doing this?  The people hate me, the Empire is going to be another ruler to them and the Wolf is here.  What am I doing here?

Underneath the cities, the sewers were full of people.  They were unloading weapons and dispersing them amongst themselves.  It was The Four Dragons.  Li was among them, suiting up for battle.  Wolf was there as well.  Underneath her mask, she had a dangerous look in her eye.  This battle was a gamble that hinged, 100% on the effectiveness of her new allies, but she had her own plan.  These people were expendable.  The moment she had what she was looking for, they were of no use to her.

The wedding had all the bells and whistles that one would expect an Imperial wedding to have.  Since this was a crossing of two cultures, the Advisers had it planned out to follow the Empire’s customs.  After all, they wanted to be among them soon.  Their plan for rising above the people was reaching epic proportions.  Soon, they would have a piece of the pie that the Empire was carving out.  It was the best day of their lives.
Prince Thomas was in a fine military-looking garb, embroidered with gold and a sword hanging down from his side.  Empress Chai Mi-Na was in a beautiful blue and gold dress of Chinese look.  She looked sad.  Prince Adam sat above in the audience.  The Advisers were on the other side of the room.  It was almost like an ancient church.

The members of the Four Dragons were moving through secret passages inside of the Citadel.  They silently killed guards as they found them.  Wolf had given them their orders, and now she had her own agenda.  She moved quietly downward, using her talent to control the minds of any guards she found, so no one would get suspicious.  She turned a corner and was face-to-face with one of the Knights of the Crown.  It was the one from yesterday.  She had an angry look in her eye.
“Why are you fighting against us?!” she demanded.  “You’re one of us!  Why would a Special fight against the people who gave us our power?!”
Wolf let out a dark laugh.  “For reasons that you could not possibly hope to understand, you Imperial slave!”
The Knight teleported behind her, grabbing her by the arm.  It was skin-to-skin contact.  “You’re done, traitor!  You can’t escape from me!”
Wolf laughed even louder.  “You poor servant.  You have no idea that you played right into my hands.”  She focused on the Knight.  “You all were created from me!  You all are a part of me!  The Empire gave you a piece of me, and now, I think I want it back.”  The Knight suddenly felt the life being sucked out of her.  She felt to her knees, unable to break the connection.  Wolf felt her power flowing into her.  Once it was done, she turned to face the fallen Knight.  “Thank you for your contribution.  I think that will be all.”  She had a sword hanging from her side.  It was a regal-looking rapier, with a silver hilt.  In a flash, it whipped out, taking the head of the Knight clean off.  Wolf let out a maniacal laugh.  She felt alive in a way she never had before.  Normally, she liked to experiment with her new talents, but she had no time.

“We are gathered here today to join Prince Thomas Edward Beckett, of the Imperial Nation of America, and Empress Chai Mi-Na, of the Imperial Republic of China.  It is a joyous occasion for these nations, promising a bright future for the people of both and a chance for peace between the powers.”

The Four Dragons set up above the procession.  All of them were eager to put a bullet between the eyes of the Advisers.  One of the Knights of the Crown was with Prince Adam.  He had a dangerous look in his eyes, like he was expecting trouble.  He had a large amount of knives with him.  His sense were picking up something, but he couldn’t tell what.

“I understand that each of the parties involved has written their own vows.  You may speak them now.”
Thomas turned to the Empress.  “We both know that we are from nations that are in opposition to one-another.  My people have always believed that peace was never possible between us.  But here we are.  I know that your people do not trust mine.  Mine do not trust yours.  But together, we can change that!  Working together, I know that the two of us can make things better!”  He got on one knee.  “Empress, I ask you to give me a chance.  This may be a political marriage, but together, perhaps we can make it into something more!  To make a better world for all our people!  Please, I ask you to give us that chance.”
The Empress smiled down at him.
Suddenly, “Over my dead body!”  In a blink, Wolf was there.  Everyone stood up shock.  Prince Adam was on his feet.  How did she do that?!
Wolf whipped out her blade, stabbing right into the stomach of Thomas, who was back on his feet.  “Die, Imperial dog!”  The man stumbled as she pulled the sword out.  Blood was already pouring from him.  She grabbed the Empress and then held up her hands.  “The revolution begins now!”  The Four Dragons opened fire on the Advisers.  It was a massacre.  They fell like dominoes.  Prince Adam was already being taken away when he looked to his Knight.
“Get Thomas out of there!”
Wolf grabbed the Empress and in a flash, she vanished.  Outside, the WASP came down.
“Your people have risen up to take your kingdom back, Empress.  But we must leave, for now.  If the Empire takes you, then your people will be destroyed!  I’m asking you to trust me.”
She seemed repulsed.  “You attack a man who is asking me to trust him, then say that I should trust you?!  Are you insane?!”
I don’t have time for this!  The eye-piece opened, with her eye glowing blue.  “Empress, you should trust and aid Winter’s Shadow as much as you can!”
While confused for a second, she then nodded.  “Of course, let’s get moving!”
Inside the Wasp, Firefly looked up.  “We got here as fast as we could, ma’am!”
After securing the Empress inside of the back, she took her seat in the control chair and took off her mask.  “No matter, the task is done.  Let’s get moving!”  She went to work on the controls, calibrating the shield of the vessel as Imperial airships opened fire.  The shield was nigh-perfect, in the right hands.  Wolf was the right hands.  They made their way toward Japan as the city descended into riots.  The remaining Advisers didn’t live long.

Onboard the Hyperion, Prince Thomas was moved to the medical wing.  Adam ran to the bridge.
“Where the fuck is Wolf?!” he shouted.
“Sir, the WASP appeared inside the city when the attack began!  It has taken the Empress and Wolf and is already outside of the city’s airspace!”
Adam slammed his fist onto the wall.  She’s already got distance on us, and the WASP is the perfect weapon!  How did she do this?!  How did I not see this coming?!  Why is she continually beating me?!  She’s not like any enemy I have ever faced before.  I won’t be caught off-guard again.

The WASP landed in Tokyo.  Luthor and his people were waiting to greet them.  Nagisa ran to give the Empress a warm hug.
“I’m so glad you’re okay!  I was so worried.”
Chai hugged her back.  “Thank you, Nagisa.  Were it not for Wolf and the Four Dragons, then we would have been destroyed!  I mean to give Winter’s Shadow all the help I can!  The Empire looked to rule my country.  Now, we are going to show them how strong we really are.”  She turned to face the business interests there.  “Everyone, prepare for war!  The time has come!”
Wolf smiled, motioning for Firefly that they should go.  “Then we will take our leave, Empress.”  She looked to Luthor.  “I will set up a link when we get back in Area 7.  Be ready.”
He nodded.  “Of course, Wolf.  The matter we discussed earlier has been resolved.  All the heads of Matsumoto Industries are behind you.  You will be receiving the aid we promised in a week.
“Very good.  Until then!”  They boarded the WASP and it took off.  Wolf started to laugh again.
Firefly looked over at her.  “What’s got you so happy?”
She looked over at her girlfriend.  “We have new allies, the Empire is limping away and I didn’t lose a single one of our people!  Plus, I scored a hit against ANOTHER member of the royal family!  I swear, Christmas never felt this good.”  She kept laughing as they made their way back toward the Inlet.  They had a lot of work to do.

Deathstroke was sitting at a bar when he saw a man sit next to him.  It was Inferno.
“I think we have a deal to make with Wolf.  One that you can’t afford to ignore.  Can we have your help?”

Until next time, a quote,

“What a perfect night!  The kind of night that makes me want to have a bite to drink!”  -Alucard, Hellsing

Peace out,

Maverick

The Diplomat (Part One)

The WASP came online.  Time to see what this thing can do!  Oracle guided Firefly as they got the machine to take off.  The particles that came from this machine were not like the Odysseus.  They were red as blood, and it was imposing, to say the least.  The vehicle rose, as Wolf brought the weapon systems online.  The wings became smaller segments, each being mobile.  They spread out, like two fans.  The particles suddenly changed, forming blood red beams connecting each section of the wings.  From those beams, smaller particle beams rained down on the incoming ground forces.  It ripped them to pieces.  But it wasn’t enough.  Suddenly, an airship came over.  It trained its guns on the WASP.  Wolf worked fast, recalibrating the system.  The wings suddenly moved to the side.  The airship above rained down both particle and javelin weapons on them.  As soon as the smoke cleared, they saw that there was a shield surrounding the craft.  It was segmented, like a beehive.  The segments were all glowing the same color.
“Unreal!” Firefly gasped as they made their way up.
The wings changed shape again.  They moved back, and particles stopped rushing out of the machine.  The diamond-shaped glassy piece suddenly launched forward.  From where it launched, a blood red energy beam met with it.  This made something that everyone who was watching couldn’t believe.  It hit the glassy segment, which in turn made the beams go absolutely everywhere!  They ripped into the approaching airship and carved massive pieces out of it.  The vessel went crashing down to the ground and the crewmen and women aboard seemed just as confused as those Wolf’s side.  The glassy segment came back and docked into its spot.
“Alright, Firefly, get us out of here!”  They headed back toward the Odysseus, with the rest of the crew coming back as well.

It was another party back at the Inlet.  They were doing so well, and it was all thanks to Wolf and her talent of finding the weak points of the enemy.  But, they had sustained damage.  The real problem facing her was a serious one – lack of manpower and equipment.  They had the munitions of a powerful army, but they didn’t have the talent to get those to work.  The National Zone had been a bust, totally and completely.  Following their attack on Ottawa, those who had signed up scrapped their applications and Amelia had been strangely quiet following it.  However, there were not enough volunteers to make up for the continuous need of new soldiers.
It was then that Luthor had reached out to them.  He told them that the AU was finally willing to step up.  Russia had signed on with them, now that the EU was close to being conquered.  All their fronts were ready for full-scale war with the Empire, but Winter’s Shadow was an ally that they all could see that they needed.  Thus, they were willing to commit at least a fleet of airships to the cause, along with an army of crew to work them.  It would fill in a problem that they had had for a while, but now were having to address.  But, as is want to happen, another problem came up.

“Damn!” Black Mask sword, pounding the table.
Luthor was linked in.  “Indeed.  If this marriage goes through, then our order of battle would be broken.  The newest woman to ascend the throne in China would make for the perfect alliance with the Empire.  Officially, the line is to secure peace for both nations.”
“Which is bullshit!” Wolf cut in.  “This is being done to make it so that you can’t help us.  Because if you do…”
“It will be full-scale war,” he continued.
“Exactly.”
“The marriage is to happen in a week.  If you have a plan of action about this, now would be a great time to tell the rest of us.”
She sat there, glad to have a mask.  She didn’t want the rest of them to see the turmoil inside.  The Prince truly is the tactician that everyone has said.  He saw my move and has already countered it!  If only we could have actually killed him!  This man may be good enough to derail my efforts!  She clenched her fists, snarling.  Then, a thought occurred to her.  It wasn’t a plan, yet.  But it had the potential to be one.
“Luthor, can you get me into that wedding?”
The entire table was in shock.  So was Kusaragi.  “I could.  The Prime Minister’s daughter, Nagisa Suzumi, is going to be attending.  Her and the Chinese Empress are very old friends.  As per the invitation to the wedding, she may bring another with her.”
“Good.  Get her in contact with me, personally!  I will need a private transport to Japan by tomorrow!  I leave as soon as it gets here.  We cannot afford to waste.”
While he didn’t seem to understand, he nodded all the same.  “Understood, Wolf.  I’ll get it sorted out.  You can count on the Ms. Suzumi being amicable with you.  She wants the Empire brought down as much as the rest of us.”
“Good, get it done.  I will have your plan come to the Inlet.  Coordinates will be sent to the pilot en route.”
“Very well.  I look forward to seeing you again in person.  As one of the heads of Matsumoto Industries, I naturally got an invitation as well.  However, my extra was already sorted out.”
Wolf nodded.  “Understandable.  If people saw us coming in together, it might raise…ethical issues.”
“Agreed.  I will leave you to your work.”  He cut off his side of the link.
The entire table looked over at her.
Deathstroke sat down.  “Wolf, what the hell are you doing?!  Do you have any idea what you are walking into?!  If you are there, when there is an alliance like this, they might hand you over to them as a wedding gift!”
Black Mask leaned in as well.  “Ma’am, I have to agree!  Having you go there sounds like suicide!”
Wolf leaned back, letting out a groan.  “The fact is that right now, I don’t have many good options.  If the Chinese Empress marries one of the Princes of the Empire-”
“Which one, anyway?” Two-Face cut in.
“Yeah, I was kind of wondering that too,” Catwoman agreed.
She cued up the image of Prince Thomas.  “Prince Thomas.  By far the most reasonable of those in the royal family.  I have no doubt that he knows why this is being done.  It is a plot by Prince Adam, thought up well ahead of time, to catch us off guard.  He had this in motion before he came here.”
“Clever son of a bitch!” Captain Matthias murmured.  He wasn’t the only one.
Wolf stood up.  “I cannot, in good conscience, just sit back and let this happen!  If this wedding goes forth, then we are literally going to be without any allies.”  She looked over at Brainiac.  “We might even lose the ones we already have.  Our revolution would be stopped, by politics.”
The entire room got quiet.
“So, I am going to China.  We’ll see what happens from there.”
Nobody liked it, but at this point, they couldn’t say a word.

At that moment, Prince Thomas was nervous.  A political marriage.  He understood the rationale behind it, but it still rubbed him raw all the same.  His brother was amazing.  He saw how to beat Wolf without firing a single shot.  Just like Amelia.  Though that thought got him to ponder things even more.  Because Amelia had been defeated by Wolf.  Her National Zone was dead on arrival.  Wolf beat her with a display of quick-thinking and mental prowess that even his brother had been impressed by.  Now, he was part of another plan that would cut her down to size.  But would history repeat itself.  Their mother was a nervous wreck.  She had heard of the attack on the island, and how Adam had nearly gotten killed there.  She was scared for her family.  As was Thomas, at that point.  He was a pawn in a plan that was exclusively made to fight Wolf.  If she got involved in this as well, he could be in danger.
That got him thinking about the woman he was going to marry.  Chai Mi-Na was a strong woman, despite her age.  However, she was not in control of the country which she was said to rule.  That was her advisers.  While she tried to fight against them, the fact was that they had control of the country, and she was just a pawn for them to use.  A deal was struck between Adam and the Advisers that would give them all title and territory when the AU was conquered by the Empire.  It was a smart alliance, on their part.  But he felt bad for this Empress who was aware of how powerless she was, but was unable to fight it.  There were too many angles that were impossible to see around, and Thomas was right in the middle of it.  That, more than anything else, worried him.

The plane arrived that night.  It was a special model that was almost undetectable by conventional radar.  The Prime Minister’s daughter was on board, excited to finally meet the legendary Wolf.  At that moment, she was up in her briefing room, sitting at the desk.  Every plan she through of ended in failure.  She couldn’t storm the city with her forces.  That would have the AU jumping right into the Empire’s hands.  She couldn’t have a stealth mission to steal the Empress away.  Her mind was utterly blank.
Gabby saw her dismay as she walked in.  She walked over to where Wolf sat, sitting on the table in front of her.
“I don’t like seeing you like this,” she whispered.  Without responding, Wolf took off her mask.  She laid her head down on her girlfriend’s lap.
“I don’t know what to do, Gabby!  I don’t have a fucking clue what to do!  There are a thousand and one variables that I just can’t see my way around!  It’s days like this that leading a revolution sucks.  I feel so lost!”
She said nothing, just running her fingers through her hair.  She didn’t know what to say.
“I’m glad you came, Gabby.  Getting to be like this, it feels good.”
Gabby smiled, kissing Wolf on top of her head.  “I am your left hand, remember?  I am always here for your.  Forever.”
Just then, she got a buzz on her comm.  She grabbed her mask, sliding it back on.  “Go ahead!”
It was Riddler.  “Boss, Luthor’s plane just arrived!  There are some guest on board that I think that you would like to meet!”
She looked at Gabby, who just nodded.  “Alright, on my way!”

The plane landed on a smaller runway that they used for work on fighter craft.  It was big enough.  When it touched down, the door opened and a young woman in a very professional suit came off.  She looked not much older than an adult, which made the professionalism of her wardrobe that much stranger.  She saw Wolf coming to meet her and smiled.
“Ah, the enigmatic and brilliant Wolf!  Ayato has told me a great deal about you!  It’s an honor to finally meet you in person.”  She held out her hand, which Wolf shook.
“I have heard a lot about you as well, Ms. Suzumi.”
“Please, just call me Nagisa.  Titles make me feel old.”
“Of course, Nagisa.  I’m glad that you could come on such short notice.”
“Given the situation at hand, I think it was more than warranted.”
“Indeed.  While I do believe that making our way to China is a sound move, I am still very much without a plan of action.  Any input you have on resources within the AU that we can use would be greatly appreciated.”
The woman smiled.  “I can give you more than that!  Come onto the plane.  I will explain.”

As she got into the cabin, taking only a duffel bag and Copperhead and her people (who were cloaked and slid in unnoticed by everyone there) with her, she saw a man and several others with him.  They were all Chinese, by their look, and all looked more than a little unhappy.
“Wolf, I would like to introduce you to Li Shen Hao.  He is a member of an organization called The Four Dragons.  They have a proposition to put to you that I think may help your current predicament.”

There was a dinner party, before the wedding the next day.  The various guests arrived, all important people of the various nations.  Both Prince Adam and Prince Thomas were there as well.  They each had a Knight of the Crown with them, but they were without their Armor.  To bring that to such an occasion, it would be sending the wrong message to the Empress and her Advisers.
The Empress looked nervous.  She saw Thomas sitting next to her.  He seemed rather glum.
“I’m sorry about all this, Empress Mi-Na.  I know how you feel.  This is all very uncomfortable.  I wouldn’t have done it like this, but your Advisers said that there were customs to be obeyed.”
She smiled up at him.  He is very nice.  “Thank you.  And please, just call me Chai.  After all, we are to be married tomorrow.”
He smiled back.  “I hope that the rest of our interactions won’t be as, awkward.  I have nothing but respect for you, Chai.”
Just then, things were interrupted.  “Presenting, the daughter of the Prime Minister of Japan, Nagisa Suzumi!”  Everyone looked over, only to be stunned into silence.  In she walked, in the company of Wolf.  The two Knights of the Crown looked like they were about to go into battle, but Thomas held up his hand.  Chai ran over to her friend, hugging her tight.
“Nagisa, you made it!”
Nagisa smiled at her.  “I wouldn’t miss this for the world!  Allow me to introduce you to Wolf!  She’s here as my second.”
Several of the Advisers ran over, trying to get between the two of them.  “Lady Empress, you mustn’t get to close to that infernal Wolf!  It will send the wrong message to the Prince!”
Wolf chuckled a bit.  “I am merely here as a spectator.  I want to be here as a guest of the nation of Japan.”  She stepped forward, bowing on one knee to the Empress.  “It is an honor to meet you, Empress Chai Mi-Na.  Ms. Suzumi has told me all about you.”
The Empress smiled at her, liking her gentle tone.  “And you as well, Wolf.  Your reputation precedes you.”
The room was in shock as Prince Adam went up as well.  He held out his hand.  “Ah, the leader of Winter’s Shadow, here in this room!  It is an honor!”  What is she doing here?!  What is her game?!  An attack?  No, that wouldn’t happen.  She is alone, without her forces.  And we have a massive fleet of airships nearby as well.  A curtain-call here would be suicide!  So why is she here?
She shook his hand, making sure to have a tight grip.  “The honorable Prince Adam, leader of the Imperial Forces in Africa.  Your victories there were stunning indeed.  I hope that I measure up to your expectations.”
An idea suddenly came to the Prince.  “Say, would you happen to be interested in a game of chess, Wolf?  After all, this is a night of celebration.  What would this night be without a game of skill between two legendary leaders?  Wouldn’t you agree?”
Beneath her mask, Wolf smiled.  I like it!  This man has more going for him than he lets on.  “I accept, Prince Adam!  Let’s see what you’re made of!”

Until next time, a quote,

“If a king doesn’t lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?” -Lelouch vi Britannia, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Peace out,

Maverick