BETH desprately tried to regain control of her flight pattern, but with all the chaos and a badly-damaged jet-boot, she quickly fell to the ground, landing hard on one of the Kraxex. Fortunately, her shields took the worst of the impact, and the Kraxex took most of the rest. It looked up at her and tried to yell, but she punched it in the face.
"Diagnostic: Jet propulsion at 50%. External damage otherwise minimal. Internal damage minimal. Still combat effective."
Kraxex began surrounding her as two long, thin beams of energy extending from the tops of her wrists.
Hearing Theran, BETH replied quickly, "I am surrounded. I am unable to render assistance until this threat is neutralized. I can upload medical data to you, however." By the time she finished saying this, the transfer to Theran's own memory banks was already three-quarters of the way through.
Just then the Kraxex attacked, two to three at a time. She almost danced around them, their deaths were quick and brutal. She cut off heads, pierced torsos, hacked off limbs, but still didn't escape completely unscathed. One or two of the mutants managed to get a stab in, but they were quickly dispatched.
Kabreeg saw BETH hit the ground. He was about to turn his fire to support her when he saw a severed head loop through the air and land several meters away.
"Impressive." Kabreeg mumbled, honestly suprised by her show of colse-quater efficiency. Somewhere at the back of his very being, a sense of...he could hardly bring himself to aknowledge it...competition arose. But...not in a bad way.
The vast majority of the Kraxex had been delt with it seemed, they were more a pressing tide than an unstoppable wall of flesh now. He could indulge himself.
The sword slid from his scabbard and Kabreeg holstered his pistol.
The nearest Kraxex ran at him, an axe clasped in one hand. Kabreeg swung the handle of his sword and battered it to one side. His left hand shot out and grasped the Kraxex around the throat, and one flick of the wrist later, its neck had been bent through 90 degrees. Another sprinted forward, and Kabreeg pointed his sword towards it, then extended the blade. Four feet of sharpened titanium shot out and struck the warrior full in the chest. And then went out the back of its body. Kabreeg grinned, ripped the blade free and attacked in earnest.
He did't even need to aim as he lumbered forward, the collosal blade spining around his body in suprisingly graceful arcs and dives. Kabreeg didn't stop to see how many he killed or wounded, all he knew was that everything between him and the point of earth he was advancing towards was not as full of blood as it should be. A single blow from a crude scimitar, carved out of what seemed to be a baseball bat, slipped through his guard. It struck him hard under the ribs and pierced his clothing. It went no further, the advanced bio-mesh suit stopping it dead. Kabreeg pivoted and cleaved the creature diagonally in half.
Then the rumbling sounded again. In the back of his mind, Kabreeg noted it, with slight concern. But with his sword coated crimson in his hand and a loaded pistol at his hip, Kabreeg thought the IT, whatever it was, should be concerned about HIM.
The fight went on for a few more minutes, the team almost lazily cutting down the remaining kraxex and shortly kabreeg sunk his blade into the final squirming thing.
"Stay alert, that can't have been all of them, there are millions of these things not thousands," Grash said as the team recovered, tending to minor injuries and strains. The ground was a slimy red from the blood and other various gore strewn across the floor. Then before they had even had a chance to regroup and reload a second roar came the side they had originated from a line of kraxex armed with scrap shields and various dangerous looking weapons, they charged, Grash readied himself but moments later he comprehended the true size of their opposing force, the ground shook again from behind them but Grash was focused, they force was almost three times as big as the last.
"We can't fight that, not here, too open, too many." It hurt his pride to even think the words but he knew it was the only option to take and still keep his head, "Fall back! run, this way." Grash yelled leaping over the wreckage the others followed but as they neared the other side of the clearing the ground began to shake, so heavily he almost lost his footing, even the kraxex paused, what on earth was it, he peered through the trees but nothing could be seen except the waving trunks of the trees.
The vibration swells, fillijng the air with a roar like vast engines, and the ground shook as a shape took form in the smog, vague but huge.
Kraxex pack in proximity: Acquire targets.
*Targets found: /Open fire/
Guns barked in the smoke, and Kraxex fell screaming under a hail of fire, while several large detonations gave sign of larger ordnance.
High target concentration-> Reduced evasion
/Engage aggressive maneuvers/
The shape moved closer, now travelling at an impressive speed, and as it rushed toward them it's image became more clear; a vast collection of buildings, bound together and riding upon vast caterpillar tracks. As it reached the Kraxex horde it made no move to stop, in stead tearing straight into the retreating crowd. The luckier were sent flying, but many were dragged under the huge wheels and crushed.
The huge vehicle had approached the Kraxex from an angle, and had thus struck only a part of the now fleeing horde. Now the hulk swerved alarmingly, ploughing back toward the group
With the data from BETH, Theran was able to get Keal stabilized quickly. Now if he'd just wake up I'd be happier...we need the firepower. The down time treating Keal had given Theran's nanobots time to restock his ammo, allowing the Hroge to get back into the fight gun blazing.
"Fall back! Run, this way."
"I COPY THAT GRASH FALLING BACK. KEAL IS FINE FOR NOW BUT IT WOULD BE BEST IF WE COULD EVACUATE HIM TO A MEDICAL FACILITY. I AM A SCIENTIST NOT A DOCTOR." He replied, throwing the larger human over his shoulder. While the weight posed no problem, Keal's greater size meant his legs dragged on the ground making running awkward, made even more so while being shot at.
Dropping his 'load' behind another piece of wreckage, Theran turned towards to source of the noise, shaking, and gun fire. For the first time since his near-full cyberization he felt afraid.
"GRASH WE HAVE A PROBLEM..."
BETH saw the huge metal monstrosity rolling toward them and ran out of the way, her coat billowing impressibly behind her.
"I advise we not engage the large vehicle."
Everything was shaking violently. Pieces of metal shook themselves loose and fell down near Calia. Knowing better than to stay inside she took swift action and jumped to the ground below. Before her was some huge metal monstrosity. it distracted her and she misjudged her landing, making her tumble forwards in the black dirt. "What, what the hell is that"!
Kabreeg stared dumbfounded at the collosal machine thing. He'd never seen anything like it, and he certainly didn't want to again.
"Agreed, running is a good idea! "He called out to BETH
Turning, he sprinted after Grash, pausing once to sweep up his machine gun, and again to grab Calia by the scruff of the neck, hoisting her onto her feet and shoving her ahead of him
"Move it or lose it!" he barked
Grash stopped as his attempt to flee the machine was met by an unwavering line of kraxex then stepping back he realised something, not once had the thing fired at any of them, only the brutes, as the line approached crazy as it seemed to him he turned and ran back through the team, lifting the unconscious Keal off the ground onto his shoulder, "This way! onto it." he yelled back at them, not caring if they didn't know why, they needed to get away from the swarm, they were wounded and he needed to find out what the hell that thing was.
The thing was stationary and as he got closer he saw a small hatch on the underside near the back, he slid underneath the thing and standing tried to wrench open the hatch, it wouldn't budge, then just as he was going to stop and look for another way in there was a buzzer and the hatch opened, he jumped and caught hold of the first wrung of the ladder with one hand, Keal in the other then pulling himself up he began to climb, Keal on his shoulder, the team followed. Just as Beth's foot passed the lip of the entrance the hatch slid shut plunging them into gloom, only a faint light above, he climbed.
After what seemed like an hour his head popped free of the tunnel, hurling Keal onto the floor he pulled himself up and then proceeded to help the rest of the team up. It was eerie, the shooting had stopped, the kraxex presumably dead, the place seemed way too clean for something on the surface, and the whole thing was made up of a variety of materials, patched together. It was a huge machine, the large tracks below, on top resting what looked like many progressively smaller tiers, 4 in total, with a largish tower at the pinnacle. Standing in awe the thing lurched into movement nearly sending him tumbling, he didn't know where they were, what it was or where on this hell they were going now, he tried not to think about it.
BETH ignited one of her laser-blades to use as a lamp down the tunnel, more for the sake of her allies than for herself, since she could see in the dark just fine.
When they finally exited the tunnel, she started running scans like a madwoman, trying to figure out who it belonged to and what he/she/it/they might want.
"I advise caution," she said calmly. "I also advise against wantonly shooting at things. If only for first impressions."
Like BETH, Theran was running every type of scan he could. "I HAVE NO DATA ON ANY VEHICAL EVEN REMOTLY RESEMBLING THIS DESIGN. BETHANY DOES YOUR DATABASE SHOW ANYTHING? " It was frustrating, there were no terminals or data posts he could access, no way of knowing who had built such a war machine. It was far too complex for the surface Kraxex to have constructed, but it did have the pieced together look of a surface built construct.
His scan revealed a small access hatch nearby. Using his 'blade to carefully cut the hatch away, he exposed reams of wiring. Well at least one of these must link to a computer. He thought. Releasing some more nanobots, they began trying to tap into whatever lines there where. While individually the 'bots couldn't transmit any data streams they found, they could tell Theran which line where important so he could tap in manually.
-Perimeter breach; non hostile behaviour:
-Structure damage; informational attack detected:
/Prepare up-scale retaliation, (pending)/
The nanites reported quickly; there were signals here, but in no code they knew. Just as rapidly, their signals became jargon, incomprehensible rubbish, then one went silent.
Then they started pouring back out of the hole that Theran had made, heedless of any commands, and began fabricating a cover. Something had completely subverted their tiny minds.
"If I were you," came a voice, sudden, crisp and slightly sarcastic, "I'd listen to the white one who sees with radar; manners matter, especially if that crude nanoscale insult was the best you've got."
He was stunned when is nanites became unresponsive. I use a 2100 byte encryption, with a randomizing authentication protocol. It should be nearly impregnable, I also should have been alerted to any counter hacking...
"If I weres you, I'd listen to the white one who sees with radar; manners matter, especially if that crude nanoscale insult was the best you've got."
The sudden voice snapped Theran out of his thoughts. "CREW MEMBER? NO, SEEMED TO TAKE MY NANOBOT INFILITRATION AS A PERSONAL INSULT. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE? POSSIBLY...NO DEFINATLY. ADVANCED AI WOULD BE NESSECARY FOR THE SPEED AT WHICH MY INTURSION WAS COUNTERED" He muttered, speaking up he went on. "I APOLOGIZE...I WAS MEARLY ATTEMPTING TO ASCERTAIN INFORMATION IN REGARDS TO OUR SURROUNDINGS." Theran had met AIs who had spent extended periods below the smog. The isolation and lack of maintenance had a tendency to make them...unstable in his opinion.
"WHO ARE YOU?"
Grash looked around as he heard the voice, loud speakers, why, what kind of abandoned city needs those, old ones too. This must be a pre-sky machine, some old mad-man sitting up there in the tower. "No, can't be an AI Theran, they need people to keep them going, give them power, they are made to obey, not to do things like this, that is a human voice." Grash said, beginning to walk along the tier,
"And I am going to find him."
A movement in the shadows, which turned out to be a camera extruding from the wall.
"My word," exclaimed the voice, "Visitors! It has been an awful long time since I've had any company..."
"Company, visitors"? Calia put her weapons away. "So mister no where man does that mean we get tea and biscuits". She gasped. "Ohh and cakes, scones, tarts and muffins..."! Calia had began running around arms outstretched like she was flying as a five year old would act. Naming off every type of baked good and confection she could think off.
It was incredibly cute and innocent, and anyone who knew her well enough would know her intelligence level seems to toss around from child to near super genius like how the winds change. It could also make people easily infuriated, because they don't know that, so they think she mocks them.
BETH began scanning every which way and how she could when she heard the voice. All she found were speakers and the camera, which didn't have anything unsual about them. Her hyper-advanced brain made hundreds of calculations and came up with a simple response.
"Our deepest apologies for infiltrating your home, but we were outnumbered and out of our element. Might we ask who we have the pleasure of speaking to?" She even managed a little smile. It was almost cute.
"Tea and biscuits?" the voice chuckled, "Cakes, trifles and tarts? Well, I'll have to see what I can persuade the synthesisers to cook up... Where are my manners? Please, make your way to the officers' suites; I shall send a lift to fetch you"
Sure enough, within a second a section of wall opened to show a generously spaced room with what appeared to be an architectural abstract shown on a screen.
Kabreeg glanced around him. This was not what he had expected. In the back of his mind, he was still furious that they'd withdrawn from the conflict. He didn't care how many there were, he was barely wounded, and far from tired. Then again, he scolded himself, thoughts like that got you killed very quickly. He just hadn't had a good fight in too long. Those pathetic Horges he back in the city hardly offered a challenge to him when they even TRIED to fight back...
And now they were stuck inside some kind of massive fortress vehicle thing with an invisble host, a KO'd lump of tin and flesh and another human who seemed to be having a fit. He sighed. Sign up for a simple task...
Kabreeg followed Grash towards the elevator. This thing, whatever it was, didn't seem to be hostile towards them yet. No point in provoking it.
But no point in being extra nice either. Kabreeg lumbered into the elevator in silence, keeping a firm grip on the handle of his sword. He wouldn't be letting go of it any time soon either.
Keal walked up to the edge, leaning over once more. "Well Angel, it seems like I won't go broke after all!" He chuckled as Angel looked up, puzzled. Then Keal felt a weird tugging on his back. He pulled back but was flung over the edge. He fell, and fell. He spun around, buffeted by the winds. Angel was leaning over the side, even more puzzled.
Then she turned and headed back home and Keal was flipped again. He was coming up to the smog clouds. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. His eyes were as wide as they could be. He was about to hit the ground. He managed to scream this time.
And sat up.
Keal stopped screaming and looked around. He was in... some kind of building. "... the fuck is going on?!"
Grash was about to step into the lift when he heard a sudden shuffling noise and he turned to see Keal sit up, his eyes were wide and his pupils dilated, now adjusting to the light. "Keal, are you alright? Can you hear me? can you walk?" he said worried as he walked back to Keal and knelt beside him. "Everyone onto the lift, I'll bring Keal in a second."He said to the group as he pulled the still dazed Keal to his feet.
Keal shook his head, trying to not fall over. "Where the hell are we?!" Keal looked around at the weird... thing. "Are we inside of the ship? No, the ship isn't functioning, it couldn't be on..."
Keal looked up, "Is that an elevator?!"
"yes yes, no time to explain, everybody on." He slung one of Keal's arms over his shoulder and helped him onto the elevator, there were no buttons, or control panels, before he was about to ask there was a ding and the doors shut at the same time sending the elevator shooting upwards, clinging to a handrail on the side he released Keal who seemed to be able to stand now. "We got overrun on the surface... then this thing showed up, it's some massive ground vehicle, pre-war I think." he said, explaining the situation to the bedazzled Keal.
Nobody could see it, but BETH's scanners were going absolutely crazy, trying to take in every inch of the thing.
"This vehicle is amazing," she said. "I would like to know how it stays powered, or even stays clean. I do not detect any cleaning machinery or personelle."
"Overrun eh?" Keal looked around, making sure everyone was here. He looked around at the speeding elevator. "So what IS this? Did you get a good look from the outside?" Keal was holding on and turned to the cyborg and android. "So if this just popped up, who's driving? There has to be someone around here!"
Keal looked around again and then he remembered, his eyes wide open. He quickly checked his weapons. His rifle was still folded in, his blasters still working. He dropped his hand down to his chest. "No holes?! Did my suit plug them?" He flicked on the display. It showed all systems running fine. Keal flexed his stomach. No pain.
He laughed, "I thought I was dead! I was back up in the sky, with Angel. Keal smiled and shook his head, We're not off the surface yet...
"YOUR SUIT HAS A RATHER EFFECTIVE SELF-REPAIR PROTOCOL THAT I AUGMENTED WITH MY OWN NANOBOTS." Theran replied. "WITH DATA FROM BETHANY I WAS ALSO ABLE TO IMTIGATE THE TOXIC SHOCK DUE TO THE SUIT BREACH. THAT SAID I HIGHLY RECCOMEND SEEING A HUMAN MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AFTER THIS MISSION."
Although outwardly he wasn't showing it, Theran was getting frustrated. None of his onboard devices where giving him useful information, and every time he caught a whisker of a data stream he was flushed out of it with contemptuous ease. He hated not knowing his surroundings.
Calia ran into the elevator just before the doors shut. She was excited to hear she may be getting food.
Beth questioned aloud on the functions of this hulking behemoth. "Perhaps it's nuclear powered. Thorium? Scan for radiation. And maybe theres no one here. AI, remote control as for why it's clean. I just want some scones, or to go back to the city".
"Is someone injured?" asked the voice, "I shall arrange for an autodoc to accompany the synth to the officer's suite. Do hurry."
In the elevator, the voice continued; "Thorium? Don't be ridiculous; fission as a main power source is just so indelicate. I shall show you the designs for the tokomak fusion reactors, should you wish, once we are in the suite"
A soon as everyone was within, the elevator doors whispered shut. There was little appreciable feeling of movement, but on the map-screen, a dot appeared and began tracking toward the pinnacle of the structure.
Keal snapped his head up, smashing it against the side of the elevator, "Argh!" Keal straightened up and said, "Who the hell was that?! And why is he talking about power sources and suites and what the hell is going on?!"
"Please, calm yourself." said the voice, reassuringly, "I am the Director of the this Emplacement, and you are being conducted to the officer's suite where I can properly meet you, and also make available to you such hospitality as food-synths and autodocs. IS there anything else you would care for, perchance?"
Kabreeg was far from relaxed, but he decided that if they survived this elevator ride then he didn't have much to worry about. If this Director was hostile it would drop the lift and kill them there and then. If it was hostile but DIDN'T drop the lift then it was either cocky or stupid, and either way; not a serious threat.
"I certainly never saw anything like this when I was killing humans over this planet, and believe me, some of the tanks were BIG." He muttered to Grash "And if we were able to pinpoint the location of a smouldering ship-wreck, how come we never detected anything like this before?"