They were ready. Winter’s Shadow’s fleet had assembled in full just outside of the Inlet. The enemy would see their location, but they weren’t worried. It was time. All of the major commanders, including some of their allies, were linked in as Wolf was about to give a debriefing on the current mission. The Armor for their Knights was completed as well. It was a sight to behold.
Puppeteer’s Armor was fascinating. Brainiac figured out a way to extend her reach and the amount of people and things she could control, by adding arms. The thing had four additional arms, using the energy of the drive to suspend them above the shoulder. It was freaky, but she felt invincible. Inferno was given special conduits to focus his attacks, along with being able to use his talent to boost, without having to use his drive. They even figured out a way to use his drive for actual flight! Short-range, of course, but still. He felt like the Human Torch with it. Shockwave was much the same, and they figured out a way to extend her ability to levitate with boosters. It was imposing, since the entire thing glowed blue when she was using it.
Sinestro’s Armor was unique. To her namesake, special generators were put in that glowed, like Power Rings. It allowed her to focus her energy, making it so that she wasn’t draining herself. The time she could still fight was extended to hours, instead of roughly 40 minutes. It also allowed her to have a constant barrier up, without draining herself. Red Hood was given Armor much to the namesake. It was simple, since the invisible arms were her deadliest weapon. There were some weapons attached, but she didn’t expect to use them. Scarecrow was hard to work with. His talent wasn’t especially draining, except as long as his strength held out. Using the blood weapons took strength. His Armor was modified to boost his muscle tone and endurance.
Anarky was also another unique design. His talent was controlling kinetic energy. That’s what the blades were made out of. So, special generators were made that allowed him to extend his ability to control it. In other words, he could make more swords. Lots more. Around 20, depending on how much strength he had at the time. With Ventriloquist, since stealth was her primary focus, they tailored Armor for her in that way. It was much the same as Ghost and Copperhead. Very rudimentary, with a built-in cloaking system. Taking control of people with her dark passenger, being invisible, it was more than a little terrifying. Full-Crank’s final Armor was much the same as Anarky, with the same generators, allowing him to control and augment more machines. He couldn’t want to see what the limits of this tech was. In theory, he could rip guns from airships and augment them around himself, making both weapons and a shield.
Radio was given an upgrade as well. Her Armor didn’t just let her control sound, it let her make it, too. Sonic emitters that could send out waves of sound, that she could then turn against her foes. When enough energy was built up, she could almost level buildings. She felt very godly, in a way. Then, there were the League of Assassins. These mechanical creations were tricky to make for. Instead of Armor, Brainiac decided to focus on weapons. Each one was versatile, able to use any weapon they came across, but only one of them had a preference. It was a kind of female unit, which was very much a sniper. For that, Brainiac deferred to Deadshot, who was more than happy to take her under his wing.
The airships that their allies from the AU had brought in were finished. There was a new mechanic who came back with Riddler. A younger man, he was every bit the mechanical genius that Riddler was. As a bit of an inside-joke, Wolf gave him the title, Enigma. Only a few got it. They also had lots of ground vehicles that could be dropped with specialized airships that would also deploy ground troops. The fleet they had massed was like none that Area 7 had seen before.
The debriefing room was absolutely buzzing. Those who couldn’t be there in person were linked in. Merc was also linked in, which was a first in a long time. The Runners hadn’t been needed in a while. Much to their chagrin. But today was different. Everyone could feel it.
Wolf came in, with her Knights behind her. They all had seats beside her. Her right and left hands in battle, as she had said. Everyone acknowledged her presence.
Black Mask came forward, shaking her hand. “Good to see you again, ma’am!”
“Likewise, commander,” she replied, taking her seat. The visual changed. “As you all know, the Empire’s forces are repelling the AU invasion front in Alaska. Their fleet is spread thin and they are unable to immediately replenish their numbers. For the first time, we have the advantage. I don’t mean to waste it.” The image changed to Ottawa. “We’re heading back to the capital, to take it from the Empire.”
The room was in awe for a moment.
Finally, it was Captain Matthias who spoke. “Ma’am, I like the initiative, but they have an entire fleet guarding that place! The Odysseus and the fleet we have are strong, but are they that strong?”
She punched up the link with Riddler and Enigma. “Our two mechanical experts have formulated a plan for that. We will be using specialized airships to deal with the enemy. I think I’ll play this part close to the chest. Trust me, when you see them in action, you won’t be disappointed. Though the rest of the fleet will have to move in fast. We won’t get a second chance at this.” She changed the image back to the capital, zooming in over the upper city. “Once the enemy fleet is engaged, we will have our ground forces move into the Upper Tier. The mission plan is simple – take back the government bureau. Bane and his forces will be fighting through the enemy’s munitions and development storage. No hold’s barred on this one, understand?”
The man was clearly smiling. They could see it in his eyes. “Oh yeah! We’ll get it done!”
Wolf nodded, continuing. “Two-Face and his forces will work to secure the tramway and civilian sectors, while Catwoman’s forces get them to safety. Azrael, you and yours are going to be taking the fight directly to the government bureau. I want you to pacify ALL ground resistance. Black Mask, I am putting you in command of allied forces who will be moving into the Lower Tier. Your goal is to pacify enemy forces, while keeping civilian areas safe, as much as possible. Understand?”
All of the commanders nodded.
“Alright then.” She cued in Merc. “Merc, it’s been too long. Are the Runners ready for action?”
He nodded, grinning from ear to ear. “You bet your ass! What do you need?”
She cued up the Lower Tier information. “You are to assist our forces that are working on the Lower Tier. The Upper Tier will be locked down, at the start of the battle, so you won’t have access to it. We will be making supply drops at these points.” Several areas on the map highlighted. “Have your people get them to friendly forces. I will have Deadshot, the League’s sniper and their people linking up with you, to get rid of enemy commanders. Sound good?”
“We’ll make the Empire pay for taking our home today, ma’am! You can count on us!”
“That’s what I like to hear.” She turned to face everyone.
Puppeteer looked over. “What about us, ma’am? Where will we be?”
Wolf looked back at her, almost smiling. “You will be with me. Our goal is to take Princess Amelia into custody. I anticipate that one or two of the Knights of the Crown will be guarding her. So, you will get to see what your Armor is made of.”
Anarky slammed his fists together. “Hell yeah! Let’s show them how it’s done!”
Wolf nodded, turning back to face the group. “Alright, everybody! This is it! The attack begins at 0600 hours tomorrow! We are going to take Canada back! Your days of being Area 7 are coming to an end! Are you with me?!”
Everyone stood at attention. “Yes ma’am!”
She saluted as well. “Very well. Get everything ready! We move out in ten hours. Dismissed!”
The League’s sniper, who went by the name Delta, met up with Deadshot. She was wearing the same kind of attire that Ghost and his wore. Her face was expressionless, since it didn’t have the features that a human face does, yet she seemed giddy. They were on the deck of the Odysseus, looking at the people racing about.
She looked over at him. “So, you are Winter’s Shadow’s sniper. I have heard many things about you.”
The man seemed intrigued. Her silver plating, smooth and shining in the sunset’s light. Her glowing blue eyes captivated him. The man smiled at her. “Oh? And what sort of things do they say about me?”
She sat down on the edge, letting her legs hang over. “That you never miss. Ever. No matter how unlikely a shot may seem, you find a way to get it. Is that true?”
He took out his custom rifle. He kept both on him, even with his Armor, There were some shots that a particle beam couldn’t make, and he never wanted to miss. He scanned the area, catching sight of a Coke can on the balcony of a building at the other end of the Inlet. There was no direct line of sight for a bullet.
“See that can?”
Delta looked over, nodding.
“How much do you wanna bet that I can make that shot?”
He could almost feel her non-believing expression. “Impossible! There is a cargo crane in the way!”
The man didn’t answer. He unslung his rifle, getting on one knee. It wasn’t the trickiest shot he ever made. He got a view of the surroundings. It was good that she pointed out the cargo crane. He sighted, letting fly. The bullet impacted on the side of the crane, ricocheting into the can, sending it flying. More than a few people below were impressed. Some were freaked the hell out. He just shrugged at them, turning back to Delta.
“Does that answer your skepticism?”
The girl shook her head, leaning against the rail. “It does indeed. Perhaps you could teach me how to shoot as you do!”
The man sat down next to her. “It would be my pleasure!”
She tilted her head to the side. “You do realize that hitting on me will not further your ends, right? I am a machine.” The tone of her voice was perfectly sarcastic, holding back laughter.
He chuckled. “My reputation isn’t all true. I find you interesting. That’s all. Though it is a pity that you are a machine. I have a feeling that you would be fun to go out drinking with.” The two shared a laugh at that, watching as the sun headed below the horizon.
Gabby was getting dinner in the city connected to the Inlet, when a face she never expected came to meet her. It was Ariel! The two met eyes and her friend came running over.
“Gabby! It’s so great to see you!” They hugged tight. As they pulled back, Ariel was a little confused. “What brings you out here?”
“I should be asking you that!” she quipped back. “I thought you were in Toronto.”
Her friend sat down with her, shaking her head. “Nah. After the war began in earnest, lots happened. I had to leave the city. I did something I never thought I’d do.” She leaned in close. “I joined Winter’s Shadow!”
Gabby was shocked. “No way! Why?”
She leaned back, looking up at the now darkening sky. “Because of what happened. Everyone thought you were dead. The Empire’s forces bombed the hell out of the city! Killed so many people.”
That got her attention. “Are the others…?!”
“No, they’re okay! We got out. But nobody knew where to go. Most everyone went home. Me, I heard that Winter’s Shadow was doing some recruiting, so I joined up. They sent me here. Got what I own and left. Glad I got out. So, what brings you here?”
At that moment, she felt a little sheepish. “Well, the thing is…I’ve been with Winter’s Shadow for a while now. Remember all those times I missed practice. Now you know why.”
Ariel was slack-jawed. “No way!” She suddenly was beaming. “That is so cool! So, what do you do?!”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Come on!” she demanded, punching her in the shoulder. “I’ll believe you!”
Pride welled up inside as she looked Ariel right in the eye. “The code-name Wolf gave me was Firefly. I’m here left hand in battle. You know the footage of the armor with the long arm that makes things explode? That’s me.”
There was a pause as Ariel digested that. She was in awe. “That is so fucking cool! I’m so jealous!”
That got her sheepish again. “I never intended to be. When we were staring out, I was just a Runner. One of the people who is in the news, running the buildings. But she saw potential in me, and it grew from there. It’s such an honor! Inside of that Armor, I’m invincible! Nobody can touch me.”
Her friend reached over, grabbing her arm. “That is awesome, Gabby! Now I know what to reach for.” Then she looked a little ashamed. “I’m not a soldier like that. They have me doing maintenance for their tech. I’ve been assigned to some airship. It’s called ‘The Odysseus.’ Ever heard of it?”
A breath of air escaped her. She nearly was choking. “The Odysseus?! That’s Wolf’s flagship! That’s awesome, Ariel! Sure, you’re a grease-monkey, but still. You are going to be helping on one of the best airships ever made. Once you see it, you’ll understand.” A thought came to her. “Oh, and since my quarters are there, we can see each other often!”
Ariel gave her a soft look. “We each get our own quarters.”
She shook her head. “No. Just the Knights of the Wolf. And the commanders of her military. Since you are going to be a mechanic, you’ll most likely be sharing a bunk in the crew quarters. But from what I’m told, they aren’t bad.”
Her friend leaned in a bit. “But you have your own place. Well, we can spend time talking. That’s good…” There was something about how she left the thought hanging like that. It brought back what Wolf had told her.
“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.”
A thought came to her. Not the worst idea.
At that moment, Quinn was sitting in her quarters, looking over reports. Excitement was brimming out of her. She was finally going to get the revenge that she always wanted. Ever since the day she escaped from the High Orbital Station, this had consumed her every waking moment. To destroy the Empire, to make them suffer. It was her entire world. It was everything she wanted, from sunup to sundown. There was a knock at the door. It was soft. Very soft. She knew it well.
The door opened, and Emily walked inside. She shut it fast, an intense passion in her eyes. This passion was familiar to her. It was the same as the night the Princess had told her about her plan to unify Area 7. She walked over to where Quinn sat, picking her up. No words were spoken. She led her lover to the bed, throwing her down on it. The intensity, it took Quinn by surprise, but she had no qualms with it.
Emily threw off the jacket to her uniform, wearing nothing underneath. She pulled off Quinn’s shirt, kissing her hard. She pinned her arms above her head, running her tongue down her neck. The night was theirs. At least, a few hours of it. The door locked as they both embraced the night.
The air was chilly. Everyone in the Inlet could see their breath. It was time. Everything was loaded up. The crews of the airships were prepped and ready. Captain Matthias came to the bridge of the Odysseus.
“All hands, prep for launch!”
Inside her cabin, Wolf woke Emily. Not an easy feat, but worth it.
“Ummm, why are you waking me?!”
Her sleepy voice is so cute! “We have to get ready. We’re moving out soon.”
That got Emily awake. She dressed quickly, taking a last look back.
Alarms went off at Imperial Command in Ottawa. Admiral Bequette was running to the bridge of his ship.
“Sir, we’ve picked up a fleet of airships heading toward the city!”
“Put in on-screen!” The image was imposing, to say the least. 15 airships, with the Odysseus in the center. It’s sheer size was something of note.
“How the hell did our outposts not give us a head’s-up?!” The Admiral demanded.
“Sir, it seems that ALL outposts leading here have been taken by the enemy!”
The Admiral smiled. Even with their numbers, it wasn’t enough. Ottawa had 30 airships, the entire fleet. Their ground forces were mobilizing as well.
“You’re going to regret coming here, Wolf! Bring all weapons to bear on the incoming fleet! Once they’re in range, fire at will!” Their fleet of ships turned, facing the oncoming foe.
“Launch the attack!” Wolf ordered. From behind the Empire’s ships, something happened. Lances of light careened toward the rear of the enemy’s position. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Everyone was in awe, until they saw where it came from. Like a film dissolving, another fleet of airships appeared behind the enemy. They were a lot smaller, but heavily armed.
Captain Matthias was on his feet. “No way!” He turned to Wolf. “Stealth airships?!”
She nodded. “I reasoned that the technology that can hide individual soldiers could hide an entire airship. It’s not perfect. Radar or thermal scans would have picked them up, but we took care of that.”
The Captain nodded, very impressed. “Alright, all ships, open fire!”
The Admiral barely had time to react. “Where the hell did that come from?!”
“Sir, more ships appeared behind us! We’re completely surrounded!” That was when more impacts came from the front.
“Launch all fighters! Have our airships form a circle to defend the Upper Tier! We can’t let any enemy forces into the government bureau!”
The Empire’s airships were limping as they moved position. The smaller airships, however, didn’t stick around. They had done their job. The Empire was too late to notice this as Winter’s Shadow’s ships hit them with Javelins and rail-cannons. They weren’t firing their main guns until they were closer.
In the bowels of the ships, landing craft were being prepped. Inside the Odysseus, the WASP was being prepped. Wolf had her Knights load up inside. It was tight, but the ones she was taking with her fit. Ghost, Ventriloquist and Copperhead were with Catwoman. Deadshot and Delta were on the Lower Tier. The 14 Knights she had with her were excited to see what this ship could do. Firefly was no longer riding pilot. Not with her Armor on. They had a young man take over that job. He was good. A little quiet, but good.
Squadron after squadron of fighters was deployed, paving the road for their landing airships.
The Odysseus got within range of the Empire’s ships, but they were ready.
“Bring the main guns online!” Captain Matthias ordered. The two secondary guns came online. They weren’t using the Aurora Cannon. Not yet. They were saving that for the fleet’s command ship, which was staying out of range.
“Get a firing solution on the closest airships! Once you have it, fire at will!” They already had it. The cannons let loose, sending red beams into them. One of them cut an airship clean in two. The other ripped through its intended target, hitting an airship behind it as well.
“Launch all landing craft! The WASP leaves first!”
The WASP took off the moment the doors opened. It’s honeycombed shield came online. Wolf was mad at work, calculating the variables. It was a perfect shield. The enemy’s fighters converged on it, but their weapons did nothing. The landing craft nearly had a paved road to get to their objectives.
The one with Bane inside was headed down. He stood up, walking to the entrance. He popped it open, shouldering his particle cannon. Enemy tanks were rolling out. He took aim as the craft moved, using the movement to his advantage. His cannon cut seven of them in half, making two explode.
“Alright, people! The moment these doors open, we’re in this! Come out guns blazing!”
“Hooah!” They were ready. True enough, the moment the craft landed, bullets came in. Bane skated out, letting his rockets fly. Micro-missiles blasted the enemy lines to pieces. For the first time in months, Bane was in his element. This kind of battle was one that he loved to fight.
On the bridge of his command ship, Admiral Bequette could feel his force losing. The enemy had them out-maneuvered, and turning to face the stealth airships had been a mistake. They caught them with their pants down, and he was worried.
My reputation will be destroyed if I fail here!
Until next time, a quote,
“You, you can’t even break a rule. How can you be expected to break bone?” -Khan, Star Trek: Into Darkness