Notice: The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. The correct title is “The Great VSP/WASTE Saga, Part II, Chapter 4.”
The Great VSP Saga:
The Bad Guys Strike Back
'VENI, VIDI, PERDI'
(That's Latin for "we came, we saw, we lost.")
Mason immediately recognized that Mat-Def was not piloting a Goliath. It had missiles, autocannons, and bird legs, but that was NOT a Goliath. That was a Mad Cat OmniMech from Battletech. It came from the wrong game. But he thought that his out-of-control Crossover only affected Starcraft.
Things were getting worse.
He did, of course, have MechWarrior II on his computer, (it came with his video card and looked really good,) but he hadn't played it in months, ever since he discovered Antioch. But there were Mad Cats in MechWarrior II (except they were called Timberwolves in the game), so they must have come from there. In the few short seconds before the Lockdown wore off, he checked through the MechWarrior II folder on his computer. None of the file modification dates were any later than last year, so obviously nobody had been playing it recently. It couldn't have come from his Crossover. But there was nothing else around that could open a hole in the boundary between fiction and reality. But it definitely didn't come from his computer.
Things were getting *much* worse.
When the lockdown dissipated, he started shooting his missiles at the enemy Wraiths. He couldn't afford to use his bombs in a close-combat situation like this; the Proto-Cruiser was designed to spread around the maximum destruction over the maximum area. More like what Broker was doing. If he did that, the mission would surely fail because his teammates would not survive. So he fired his missiles. Unfortunately, since this was the real world instead of Starcraft, the Wraiths were able to evade them using their superior maneuverability. He still managed to score several hits, but not as good as if it had been in Starcraft.
He saw an enemy Ghost about to lock him down again. He was *NOT* about to let them do that again, so he blasted it with his Yamato Gun. Then he realized he could simplify things somewhat. He sat down at his computer, hooked the Crossover into StarEdit, and used it to design a scene of the battlefield in about 30 seconds. Then he fired up Starcraft and tied it into his controls. Now that he could control the DragonSlayer with his mouse and keyboard, he was able to use the Crossover's power to impose Starcraft's physics onto the ship's reality. Now his missiles always hit. It was a short time until Broker's army was finished off. He dramatically used his Yamato Gun to finish off the last of Broker's troops in the area. Being the Narrator, he knew that there were more left, though. He turned off Starcraft, equipped himself with a Marine suit, a Gauss rifle, and "sleeper infantry" gear (another Common Foe innovation he had just designed; allows specially trained infantry to Burrow) from the weapons locker, and got out of his ship.
Bakjak led his special forces deep into the recording studio at NCU, where Auspex, Zeus, and Ytse had been working on voice acting. They had been trying to restore Ytse's ability to speak in a Rockwell voice, even watching episodes of WWF Smackdown and trying to get him to imitate The Rock, but nothing was working. He just couldn't do it. They had been almost oblivious to the sounds of battle outside, so they only noticed Broker's special forces coming for them when they heard footsteps in the hall. Bakjak blew the door off its hinges with his C-10, kicked it down for dramatic effect, and barged into the room.
"Bakjak!" Ytse exclaimed silently. Somehow, Zeus and Auspex were able to hear him anyway. "But I thought you said he was sent to some tropical island before...."
"That was his clone," Zeus whispered back, crouched in the shadows. "Aus cloned him, remember?"
"Ooooh...right," Ytse replied.
Meanwhile, as the good guys made their way towards the building where the TAC team was under siege, MysteriousGuy put his hand to his head and swayed on unsteady legs for a moment.
"Are you OK?" asked Spooky.
"Shut up, you two," Auspex whispered fiercely. "Here they come...."
He and Ytse raised their C-10s, Zeus ignited his warp blades, and they prepared to fend off their attackers...
...or die trying.
MysteriousGuy suddenly felt all his strength return as people stopped talking about clones nearby. He hadn't been within hearing range, but he was close enough that he had almost fainted.
Bakjak gave the order to his men to begin attacking. In typical Starcraft fashion, he had 11 commandos with him. They outnumbered the TAC crew 12 to 3, but the TAC crew was all heroes, while Bakjak was the only hero on his side. So the numbers were fairly evenly matched. He had his two firebats move forward and engage while the rest of his men, Ghosts and Marines, laid down cover fire. Zeus suddenly cloaked, but, in typical cartoon style, his reflection could be seen just fine. Bakjak aimed at him while watching a computer monitor that had not been treated with whatever they do to computer monitors to reduce glare. The battle was fierce, with Gauss ammo, C-10 bullets, flames and warp blades flying everywhere, but after a minute Bakjak took very careful aim and shot Zeus right in the blade emitter. His warp blade deactivated. His men knew their mission objectives well enough, and they stopped attacking Zeus. One of the Marines shot Ytse's C-10 out of his hands, and now the 4 remaining men all focused on attacking Auspex. One of Bakjak's Ghosts cloaked, walked up to Auspex, and disarmed him. From there, it was a simple matter of taking the three of them prisoner. Now they had captured the core of the Antioch team, and Bakjak doubted that the rest of them would put up much of a fight. He smiled a villainous smile at the thought of a job well done.
Seawolf, Mason, and Codebreaker led the way as the good guys charged down the hall. Suddenly, Spooky gasped in shock.
They saw Bakjak and his men herding Auspex, Zeus, and Ytse-Jam down the hallway at gunpoint. In typical villain style, Bakjak yelled over his shoulder to the heroes "Don't try anything or the Antioch team gets it!" He faced them and ordered them to go back down the hallway.
The WASTErs immediately brought their weapons to the ready, but Codebreaker said "Hold it! They're serious." Mason seemed to want to back down as well, and the WASTErs could see, even through the red clouding their vision, that this couldn't be treated as a normal WASTE assassination with the lives of the Antioch team hanging on the line, so they backed down the hallway and around a corner.
"Mason, why did you want to back down?" asked Seawolf. "That's not like you at all, and you didn't want to be out of character in this story."
"That's simple," replied Mason. "Now we can go back to our ships and follow them to wherever Broker is."
"Yeah. Let's follow them, beat those bad guys, and rescue Zeusie!" said Spooky. The rest of the heroes agreed, some quickly and some after a bit of persuasion from the others, that this was a good plan.
They returned to the Hyperion and the DragonSlayer and started following the Dropship in the distance. Since Dropships can move at slightly faster rate than Battlecruisers and Proto-Cruisers, they didn't gain on them, but due to a plot contrivance they didn't lose sight of them either. The dropship went upwards through the atmosphere, and flew up to a space platform which was obviously Broker's headquarters. Broker's Battlecruiser was there, along with several green ships and ground troops.
Mason said "Don't deploy until I've softened them up a bit. I can do some serious damage with my Saturation Bombs if I don't have to worry about hitting people on my side."
A voice came over the comlink. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," said Broker. "Look down."
He looked down, and to his horror saw Jack Frost standing there. A group of BattleMechs walked out from behind a cluster of Factories and readied their missile pods. Several X-wings swooped by and held position over the evil fortress. And then, from underneath the space platform, flew a gigantic ship. Mason recognized its poorly-rendered shape instantly and his mouth went dry. It was The Fenix. This was one of the few opponents his Proto-Cruiser could not handle. A ship so ridiculously God-modded that it could destroy entire Zerg bases by itself with barely a scratch on it. The DragonSlayer and the Hyperion wouldn't stand a chance against it.
In a scared voice, Mason gave the order. "R-r-retreat." This time, none of the other heroes argued with the decision.
The Crossover was definitely out of control.
All heroes must survive, but HOW?!?
What evil enemy will Broker bring through the Crossover next?
What diabolical scheme does he have planned for the Antioch staff?
How will the heroes ever manage to defeat The Fenix?
Is Flyspeck finished eating his pretzels yet?
Find out on the next exciting episode of The VSP Saga!
The Hyperion clumsily maneuvered itself around towards the void of space, away from Broker's platform. Eight X-Wings and six wraiths combined squadrons and went off in pursuit, while the humungous, dominating Fenix slowly advanced on the DragonSlayer. Broker's fleet, impressive even before the Crossover, moved to intercept any kind of retreat while two battlecruisers left their defensive positions to pursue the DragonSlayer and Hyperion.
"Guys," said Lambda, "I think this is it."
"Never mind that!" yelled Codebreaker, "let's give 'em whatever we got before we leave. And NO, Phoenix, don't waste any shots on Jack Frost. Focus fire on the Fenix."
While the Hyperion charged its Yamato Cannon, Mason didn't know what to do. His retreat was being cut off by 5 battlecruisers, there was a wing of X-Wings and a wing of Wraiths flying at him, not to mention two battlecruisers in pursuit. Plus there was the Fenix ship, which could easily destroy both the Hyperion and the DragonSlayer in short order if allowed the chance. Knowing nothing else to do, he fired salvo after salvo of saturation bombs at the small fighters. 10 of the 14 were destroyed, but the other three X-Wings and the one Wraith fled the destruction zone and engaged in evasive maneuvers. Seeing that the mass-destruction weapons wouldn't do much against just four evasive and spread-out ships, he readied his now-homing missiles and fired relatively near the fighters. The X-Wings, however, didn't register as any type of SC unit and thus Mason's patch didn't affect them, but destroyed the would-be cloaked wraith. The X-Wings spread, and came in for the kill firing proton torpedoes at the DragonSlayer. The lasers had surprisingly large affects on the Proto-Cruiser, dealing large amounts of damage to the shields.
Mason looked up at the viewscreen, and there was Broker's fleet. Already, four battlecruisers had charged their Yamato Cannons and had begun aiming at the ‘Slayer.
"Oh crap. Oh, crap." said Mason.
Four high-powered Yamato blasts flew at the DragonSlayer head on. The whole front half of the ship was blown away by the high-powered Yamato blasts, along with the X-Wings constant hammering. Fortunately, the bridge of the DragonSlayer was in the rear of the ship for some reason and Mason survived. But how could he continue to, with five battlecruisers incoming, three fighters hammering away, two more battlecruisers in pursuit, impressive ground forces and a FREAKIN' FENIX SHIP in pursuit? Mason had but one choice, one more action. A communication came from Broker's flagship. It was none other than Broker.
"Wheeler," said Broker, fiendishly, "I see that you have been disabled." Broker grinned.
"I'll take you down with me!" yelled Mason, "I can-" He was interrupted by a blast from a battlecruiser which knocked him off of his command chair. He struggled back onto the chair and asked, "What do you want?"
"I ask for surrender. Surely, that is not much of a problem for you, seeing your current situation?" answered Broker.
"I- I...don't know..."
Meanwhile, on the Hyperion, Phoenix fired Yamato after Yamato at the Fenix, doing practically NOTHING to it. Between Yamatos, he fired a few laser blasts at the two other battlecruisers.
"Look," motioned Seawolf, "up above. The ‘Slayer's been torn in half, and is being hammered by some X-Wings and battlecruisers!"
"We're screwed!" yelled Odin, "We can't do anything!"
All of the sudden, the Fenix was in range. Weapon after weapon was readied aboard the invincible ship, zeroed in on the Hyperion. The Fenix was upon them.
"This is it, guys!" yelled Mack, "We're SCREWED!!!!!"
As a huge array of missiles, lasers, blasts, cannons, and other weaponry simultaneously fired at the Hyperion, MysteriousGuy said one word: "Clones."
MysteriousGuy was in a lab of some sort. He was wearing a white lab coat, on which was a name tag that read 'Tyrel Dvorak'. He was pacing, head bowed, parallel to a series of green tanks filled with identical men. All of them were clones in stasis tubes. How could he keep them from dying after 24 hours? How could he, the leading scientist, keep up with the high demand of clones his boss kept increasing? There MUST be some way to create the perfect cloning procedure, there must be some way to overcome the faults in his revolutionary design. MysteriousGuy turned a corner and was confronted by his boss.
"Good afternoon," said Broker, "how are you today Mr. Dvorak?"
"Good afternoon Sir," replied MG, "I'm fine. What brings you here?"
"I am becoming more and more disappointed with the rate at which your clones are produced," said Broker, getting to the point, "and then there's the fact that they only last 24 hours before dying. How am I supposed to conquer not only this universe, but other gaming/entertainment universes with an army that only lasts ONE DAY, even if you ever get to producing clones in that amount?"
"I apologize, sir," said MG, "I will redouble my efforts, and shall begin creating a new process for creating clones which will not include any faults in the clones. It will cost more on your part, though, I am afraid."
Broker smiled. Dr. Dvorak knew, from experience, that when Broker smiled, it was not good to be around.
"I don't think that that will be much of a problem anymore, Dr. Dvorak." said Broker. Dvorak looked up in surprise.
"I am going to dispense with you and your program. I have found a newer, better way and rate at which to produce cloned soldiers. Already I have begun the Crossover, but I have no army for which to march across the dimensions with! I have found, in my Creator's realm, a machine that has the capability to meet my demands and more. The Creator has the knowledge to make more of these. You are of no further use to me.
"I am, however, not without a heart. I shall not merely kill you as some would in my position of power. I am feeling lenient today, so what I do to you will be of much less damage to your life. I will escort you to a planet, a strange planet where you can do me no harm. It is called Earth. Once there, your memory will be wiped."
Dr. Dvorak's jaw dropped. His whole profession, his career, his experiments, his lab, his workers-!
"There is more," said Broker, seeing Dr. Dvorak's facial expression. "I am going to use the latest in brainwave technology so that you might not ever use your knowledge of cloning techniques against me. Whenever ANYONE says the word 'clone' or anything relating to it, you shall fall unconscious so that you might never reveal ANYTHING that might destroy me!
"You shall be a nothing, a no one, a nobody. You shall lurk in the shadows and be known as a Mysterious One. This will hopefully hurt."
Broker pulled out a needle and plunged it into MG's head. He became unconscious. When he woke up, he was on the Internet. On a Forum. A Forum dedicated to something called "The Antioch Chronicles." He had no name that he could remember. He was the Mysterious Guy.
How the HECK are all heroes supposed to survive THIS?
Why did MG have the flashback when about to be killed?
Will the Fenix EVER die?
Why didn't Phoenix gun down Jack Frost when he had the chance?
Will Mason's courage buckle?
What was Mason's other option?
Why did Rockwell need to be erased in order for Broker's plan to work?
What will happen to the three of TAC, Tic, Tac, and Toe?
Just before the Fenix's weapons were upon them, MysteriousGuy passed out on the floor.
‘Lucky guy,’ Seawolf thought, and closed his eyes to embrace death...
...and then, after a small thud in the back of the ship, he realized he was still alive.
"What in Auspex's name?!" he said, dumbfounded. His control board showed very minor damage in the rear section of the ship, nothing that a few repairs couldn't easily fix later.
"Why aren't we dead?" Tarun asked.
"Of course!" Codebreaker exclaimed. "The Fenix is modded so that it's virtually indestructible, but its only armament is eight interceptors! It's very weak offensively."
Suddenly, a much larger impact made the whole bridge shudder.
"You forgot about the deck guns it uses in that one space platform duel between the Fenix and Duran's infested battlecruiser...." Lambda pointed out.
"Oooooh. Right. THAT'S what that was." Codebreaker replied.
Seawolf now saw a more serious damage report. Those deck guns must be strong...there was actually a hull breach in the rear section of the Hyperion now. All major systems were still undamaged, but he knew that couldn't last long. Their situation was still VERY bleak. They couldn't outrun them, the Hyperion was too big and cumbersome to outmaneuver them....
Or was it? He was up against two battlecruisers and the Fenix. The modified Hyperion handled better than the regular run-of-the-mill battlecruiser, and the Fenix handled like the Titanic. All other ships were still a ways off, now just sitting near the remains of the DragonSlayer. "Mason, hope you're still with us, buddy...." Seawolf said quietly.
Another large thud, this time from a battlecruiser, brought him back to the situation at hand. Okay, so yes, he probably COULD actually outmaneuver them. Well, maybe.
Thinking quickly, he made a full turn and headed right back at the Fenix.
"Seawolf, are you nuts?!" Mat shouted in alarm.
"I know what I'm doing," Seawolf replied. "Watch."
The battlecruisers were slower to change course to follow, and the maneuver bought him some time out of range of the two cruisers' weapons. ‘Good,’ Seawolf thought.
He threw the ship up to full throttle, rerouting power from practically everything except life support into the thrusters for maximum speed, which was still only about as fast as a carrier. But it should be enough, or so he hoped.
The Fenix's interceptors swung back around and dealt some potshots to the rear of the Hyperion before passing and preparing for another run, hitting right near that hull breach. The alarms briefly sounded before Seawolf smacked them off and continued his seemingly suicidal run.
The Fenix itself fired once more with its deck guns, hitting the Hyperion on top. They rocked the ship, but fortunately the damage didn't seem too extensive, at least compared to the rear of the ship.
Just as the Hyperion seemed certain to collide with the Fenix and everyone but Seawolf cringed, Seawolf took the Hyperion into a steep nosedive, and went right underneath the Fenix, where the deck guns, and all the other ships which were above the Fenix, couldn't hit them.
"Sweeeet!" some of the heroes shouted. The rest just stared as Seawolf skimmed along the underside of the massive enemy ship and then shot into the open space behind it.
Open because all the other ships had been in front of the sluggish Fenix.
Seawolf knew that space was not the place to be at the moment, so as soon as he was clear of enemy fire, he dove down through the atmosphere. Fortunately, no enemy ships followed. Sweating profusely, Seawolf stood.
"Lamb, can you take the controls?"
"Sure, Seadog," Lambda replied. "Nice flying."
Seawolf sighed as everyone heartily agreed. "Not good enough," he replied.
"What do you mean?" Phoenix asked.
"One word: Mason."
They all understood. Everyone was sorry to leave Mason Wheeler behind, and for all they knew, he might even be dead. That made them all deeply saddened, but they knew that Seawolf especially must be going through a lot of grief over his friend's defeat.
"I need to rest," Seawolf said, sounding extremely tired. "Lamb, Phoenix, take us back to VSP HQ. I'm sure we need repairs after that, and we need to figure out what the heck to do now."
Seawolf left the bridge to get some rest, helping a now-conscious but still shaky MysteriousGuy back to the crew quarters to rest as well.
Everyone else took one final look at Broker's fleet as they headed down to Earth's surface, vowing to make Broker pay for all that had happened.
And up in the middle of that fleet, Mason Wheeler saw the Hyperion leaving. He was glad that his friends had made it.
With all other real options gone, save going out in a blaze of glory (since he still had a couple saturation bomb launchers operational, he could still do a little more damage before his sure death), he sighed and reopened a link to Broker's station.
"Broker? I...I surrender."
"Excellent," came the reply. "You AND the Antioch staff in the same day. Most excellent indeed."
Mason hung his head and prepared to be boarded. They had captured his favorite campaign's staff, nearly killed him and his friends, and destroyed the DragonSlayer, a ship he had grown quite fond of.
He had no idea how, but somehow, Kurt Broker would regret this. Assuming Mason lived long enough to find some way to MAKE him regret it.
Mason smiled. Everything was going according to plan. Time to make a little trip to the Armory...
Broker's three remaining Special Ops men, led by TGF, made their way onto the DragonSlayer. The ship seemed to be deserted, and they could hear nothing except their own footsteps and a product of Mason's twisted sense of humor. He had set the ship's intercoms to play "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha" by Dr. Demento over and over and over again endlessly throughout the entire ship. They searched the ship and found nothing. They searched it again, and still found nothing. Finally, they came to the bridge for the third time, and still saw nothing. Mason didn't seem to be anywhere on the ship. All TGF could see was Mason's computer. For lack of anything better to do, he looked at the computer. It had StarDraft open, and it seemed to have something to do with Common Foe and infantry. Suddenly, he heard the sound of unburrowing behind him. He whirled around in time to see Mason burst out of the floor and slaughter one of his Special Ops men with twin flamethrowers. He took the other two down rather quickly, then came towards TGF. TGF ignited his psi blades, knowing that Firebats can't stand up to a Zealot.
"Stop, Mason. I've been ordered to take you prisoner."
"TGF? You're working with these cretins?"
"Yes. Broker sent me over here to capture you. I don't want to have to fight you, but I will if I have to."
"But wouldn't you rather be a good guy? The bad guys always end up losing."
"Well, actually I'd rather be on that tropical island that Bakjak got sent to."
"Yeah, but that was just a plot contrivance. It can't happen again."
"Even if I did help you, what good would it do? This ship is surrounded by Broker's forces and about to fall apart anyway."
"Well, one out of two isn't bad."
"It's a Proto-Cruiser. It uses nanotechnology to repair itself. While you've been wasting time looking for me, this ship has returned to full fighting capability. Now are you going to help me or not? We fought together before; we can be friends again."
TGF thought this over for a few moments. It was a tempting offer, but Broker seemed to have the power to bring anything from any game into reality. He seemed to be unaware of the Final Fantasy series so far, but sooner or later he'd hear about some of the monsters from them, and the temptation would be too strong to resist. And if Broker started summoning weapons from FF7, or, worse yet, the ultra-powerful Ultima and Omega weapons from FF8, he didn't want to be in a position where he might be attacked by them. By the same token, if he proved his loyalty to Broker, he might be able to reward him somehow. Perhaps Broker could be persuaded to summon Lara Croft, who he had always had a secret crush on...
"Tempting offer, but I'll have to refuse." TGF pointed a psi blade at Mason. "Now are you going to come along with me freely, or do I have to carry you in unconscious and wounded?"
"OK, fine. I'll go. But you're missing out." Mason took off his flamethrowers and napalm tanks and handed them to TGF. He kept his Firebat suit on, since it would have taken too long to get out of. He allowed TGF to escort him to Broker's detention cell. But he noticed that TGF never told Broker about his Sleeper Infantry gear.
He got thrown into the cell by one of Broker's guards, heard the door slamming behind him, a forcefield being activated over the door, and the guard walking away. He allowed himself a small smile of triumph, then forced the expression from his face as he got up and sat down on the bench attached to the wall. Everything was working perfectly!
TWO HOURS LATER....
Back at VSP headquarters, everyone was staring at the rear of the Hyperion.
"Amazing she made it all the way back here," Mack observed.
"Yeah," Seawolf said sadly, upset at the condition of his beloved ship.
There was most definitely a hull breach. Right above the thrusters, the Hyperion had been ripped wide open, the hole almost as wide as the ship itself. Several blast marks around the engine areas revealed how close they had come to having their thrusters blown out, which would have ended the fight VERY quickly.
"We were lucky," Dark_T_Zeratul said. "Very lucky indeed."
Seawolf opened up the cargo door, and Codebreaker drove the damaged PosseMobile down the ramp. He and Lambda set to work repairing the vehicle (including reattaching the severed missile launcher), and Seawolf, Phoenix, Mack, and Flyspeck climbed up onto the Hyperion in SCV suits to begin the task of repairing the Hyperion while everyone else went inside the fortress to rest up and plan their next moves.
"This could take a while," Flyspeck observed from on top of the ship. The damage was even worse up close.
"Not as long as repairing the DragonSlayer would take," Phoenix said sorrowfully.
"Well, this'll give us time to think of what to do now," Mack observed, trying to be cheerful.
The other three just looked at him, and set to work.
In the foliage nearby, Dale Gurney watched with grim fascination. After his journey through warp-time, Gurney had ended up seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with the only thing in sight being a fortress off in the distance. Lacking his goliath walker, Gurney had trudged on foot, pistol in hand, to the fortress, and had arrived just as an extensively-damaged battlecruiser had touched down. Many people had climbed out, and most had gone inside. The rest were occupied with repairs...
...and Gurney had his eyes on the most amazing walker he had ever seen. It was at the top of the battlecruiser's cargo bay ramp, and while it had a little damage on the side, no one was currently attending to it.
If he could just get to that walker.... Gurney grinned as he thought about what he could do with such a nice-looking vehicle. "Forget goliaths," he whispered to himself, "I want THAT."
Now, how to get to it without being noticed....?
Why DID MysteriousGuy have the flashback when about to be killed?
What the heck can the remaining heroes do now?
What will become of Mason Wheeler, Auspex, Zeus, and Ytse?
How long does it take to repair a hole the size of a house in the hull of a battlecruiser?
Find out next time in...the great VSP Saga: Part II!!!