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.
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