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 5.”
The Great VSP Saga:
The Bad Guys Strike Back
'ANOTHER BEGINNING, THIS ONE BEING THE BEGINNING OF THE RESCUE PLANS WHICH THE GANG WILL COME UP WITH SOON'
Phoenix sighed sorrowfully while repairing the ship. Granted, he was doing a good job so far, but he was disappointed with himself. WASTE, the VSP and Flyspeck had come to him for help, and he had done practically nothing. Suddenly, he came up with an idea.
"Hey, Spooky!" he called out.
"Yes, Phoenix?" she answered.
"Do me a favor and take over the repairing. I've got some thinking to do."
"SwingGirl Spookz would be happy to."
Phoenix cringed at the Rock-imitation. He never liked wrestling. After a while, Spooky had taken Phoenix's place in the SCV, and Phoenix walked outside to take a little walk.
"Let's see now... Rockwell is gone... But that's not important. Anymore. Antioch will survive without him, but it won't survive without Auspex, Zeus Legion and Ytse-Jam... Who was the true bad guy here... Broker... Bakjak... yeah, a lot of people. I guess Broker is the villain of this story. And what if..." Phoenix rambled one while walking right into Dale Gurney.
"Whoa! Take it easy there, flapjack!"
The mention of "flapjack" reminded Phoenix that he was standing in front of a bad guy. An Antioch character, but a bad guy nonetheless.
"Gurney. Hello. I'm Phoenix. What are you doing here?" Phoenix tried to stall him while rapidly trying to think of something.
Unfortunately, this "something" was how much he liked flapjacks, pancakes, crepes, "pankakor" and all the language variations of a pancake. Phoenix shook his head and listened to Gurney's explanation.
"Uh... I've come here... to... to... help you! Yes, that's it! I knew you had problems so here I am!"
Now, Phoenix wasn't stupid. Well, maybe he was. But that's beside the point. Phoenix (for arguments sake) wasn't stupid. (In this story). Still, he knew that Gurney could be a good guy, after all he had been during A1.
"Great! Come with me... I want you to meet the gang... So... What have you been doing in these past weeks? Working on diabolical plans with Mox? Where is Mox, anyway? You don't happen to know where Rockwell went?"
He continued his rambling. After all, that's what he did best.
Gurney answered some few unimportant questions, and was slowly being led into the VSP headquarters. He kept his eyes on the Mad Cat. He wanted it. He wanted it very much. He would get it. These morons can't stop me. Ha!
Meanwhile, Phoenix started working on a plan. This plan... will free them! This plan...does not exist yet.
What will happen now?
What will Gurney do?
Will we ever get explanation for all the weird stuff?
When will they be rescued?
Does Phoenix write any good?
"Why do I always get bossed around?" Bakjak asked aloud.
From out of nowhere, a suitcase emerged from Auspex's sleeve. Then Auspex said in Dr. Evil's voice, "One million dollars."
Bakjak thought for a moment. He grabbed the suitcase and started laughing maniacally, "I will RULE you Broker! No one messes with Don Bakjak. Thank you for your contribution, Auspex. You do know that I will still stop Rockwell from coming back to The Antioch Chronicles?"
Bakjak then off'd Broker's firebats, marines, and ghosts that were escorting Auspex, Zeus, and Ytse. Bakjak coughed, blood dripping out of his mouth. He glared at Auspex for a moment, then left.
Auspex, Zeus, and Ytse walked away silently. Bodies littered the now empty cave....
Spookz climbed carefully into the SCV. She glanced through the SCV's heads up displays at the damaged Hyperion quickly, then did a double-take. She sighed and shook her head. "More extensive than I thought," she grumbled to no one in particular. With a grin she discreetly plugged a small piece of machinery into the control panel of the SCV, fiddling a second with a small knob on it until a faint whine filled the air around her. Her grin spread as she turned to focus on the task at hand. "*Now* it's time to get to work..."
MysteriousGuy sat beside the door to the VSP HQ, absently staring off into space. His mind raced with unbidden images. A room, so sterile, so cold, and yet so very familiar...it held a special place with him, but at the same time seemed so very generic. Himself...or was it himself?...younger, more robust, a look of smug pride on his face in the reflection of a cheaply mass-produced helmet, the same as all the others. Row on row of helmets, glistening in the light just so, just alike...row on row of faces, each just like the next, each identical pair of eyes staring briefly into his as they passed. Their gaze was piercing, yet empty...hollow. Row...on row...on row....
Phoenix and Gurney slowly made their way towards the door. Both of them continued to make idle talk, avoiding their true intentions; for Gurney, the MadCat, and for Phoenix, when he could fit in a little side trip to the local IHOP. Phoenix nodded towards the door to the VSP HQ and Gurney tugged on the door handle. It didn't budge under his hand.
Gurney turned a look towards the preoccupied Phoenix. "Eh, what gives?"
Phoenix snapped out of it, a large sweatdrop forming on his forehead. "Ah, right, sorry about that..." Stepping past him, Phoenix flipped open a concealed panel beside the door, revealing a complicated-looking keypad and small glass opening. From his pocket Phoenix produced an identification card, swiping it cleanly through the side of the security lock. A small green light illuminated. Replacing the card quickly, he then placed his thumb onto the glass plate. A laser quickly scanned it, another green light coming on beside the first.
Gurney turned, seeming to watch Spooky scampering into the SCV not so far away. "Weird; little blonde chick hanging out around here. Huh," quickly flitted through his thoughts as he intently watched Phoenix out of the corner of his eye. This little gem of info would most definitely come in handy later, and if not, would at least be sure to fetch a handsome price to the highest bidder. He watched Phoenix's fingers move towards the numeric keypad as-
The sound of the clones' footsteps as they marched past him seemed to echo through his mind, reverberating against the shattered remnants of his memories. Each soulless pair of eyes bore through his skull as they marched past, footfalls in unison and seeming to grow louder and louder until-
A sudden crash tore through the air. Phoenix, finally fully jarred from his fantasies of different syrup assortments, slammed the security panel shut and whipped his sidearm out in front of him. Gurney fell to a low crouch, arms out to his side for balance, eyes scanning the area in instant alert suspicion. On the other side of the door, MG let out a shriek and leapt to his feet, eyes wildly scanning the corridors.
The crash turned into a deafening pulse, then seemed to complicate into...Gurney cocked his head in distaste and looked up at Phoenix, whose face had a similar look of slowly dawning comprehension. "Is that music?"
Phoenix looked down at him and yelled, "Did you say something?"
Gurney cupped his hands around his mouth and boomed, "I SAID, 'IS THAT-" Without warning, the rhythm dropped out of hearing range, and Gurney's last word was shouted over the ensuing silence. "-MUSIC!!" He glanced about and cleared his throat, looking not a little sheepish as he stood.
The rest of the VSP burst through the door, all looking just as confused as MG, who was carried through the door with them. "What the heck was that?!" Codebreaker exclaimed.
Phoenix spoke through the milling crowd of VSPers. "I could've sworn it was music of SOME kind," he explained. "Though where a sound system like THAT would come from, and who would have it up that...loud..." A light bulb went on above Phoenix's head and he turned and looked quite intently towards the Hyperion.
As a group, the VSP and Gurney turned to follow Phoenix's gaze to the SCV not twenty feet away. The very sheepish looking SCV. A small burst of static and Spooky's voice shyly came over the speakers. "Anou...would you believe I used the wrong cable outlet?" A sweatdrop appeared above the SCV's head and it waved timidly. "Gomen nasai..."
Lambda shook his head wearily. "Whose idea WAS it to let that girl have a MiniDisc recorder...?"
Odin shot him a glance. "Whose idea was it to give her the transfer cable to the SCV?"
"Err..." Lambda trailed off, mumbling, and turned towards the door to the VSP HQ. The rest of the VSP milled around him as he quickly ran through the security checks. He tugged on the door...and nothing happened.
Gurney felt his heart skip a beat, the security card he'd palmed off of Phoenix a'la Blue Streak seeming to burn a hole in his jacket pocket. He felt exposed and vulnerable, and to think he hadn't even been able to see the access code... Lambda growled to himself. "Phoenix, you were the last one to do this, right? Mebbe it needs your info again."
He glanced at the VSP members surrounding him as Lambda continued to pull on the door. He was getting frantic...Phoenix brushed past him towards the panel, reaching for his pocket. Suddenly, Gurney pushed forward through the crowd. They all stopped and looked at him curiously.
Gurney flashed one of his more disarming smiles and stepped next to Lambda, placing his palm flat against the door...and pushing. The door fell open easily.
Gurney felt his heart return to its normal non-palpitating state and silently breathed a sigh of relief, even offering a deferring "Oh, after *you*," to Endarire as he shot him a suspicious glance on his way through. Coming in last, Gurney stopped and smirked at the SCV busily repairing the Hyperion. He nodded to it slightly, patting his jacket pocket and watching Spooky somehow maneuver the SCV to the beat of the punk music that still faintly threaded through the air. "Good girl," he whispered. Then he disappeared into the VSP HQ behind the others.
The VSP, WASTE (including the new member, Flyspeck) and the all-around good guy Phoenix walked inside the VSP HQ and gathered around a mysterious guy: MysteriousGuy.
"Why DOES he always fall unconscious like that?" asked Phoenix and continued:
"I've thought about it a bit, and it always seem to happen when someone mentions the word clone. Well, not always, but often enough to make it suspicious."
"Well, why don't we ask him when he comes to." said Seawolf.
After a while, MysteriousGuy (predictably) came to.
"Hey, Phoenix, Seawolf, Odin's Eye, Lambda, Codebreaker, Spooky, Gurney -"
"Yeah, we know who's here." interrupted Phoenix.
"Why do you always fall unconscious when someone mentions clones?" asked MilkDuds.
MysteriousGuy got a haunted look in his eyes, and fell unconscious.
"MilkDuds!" exclaimed the team.
"Sorry..." said a sad and subdued MilkDuds.
And again, Mat-Def comforted him by telling him about the MadCat's armaments. He obviously still wasn't good at it.
Gurney listened carefully to the description of the MadCat. He focused on keeping himself from drooling, while imagining himself riding into Bora Dalis in that amazing piece of machinery.
"Look, MilkDuds. Don't mention 'clone'. He'll fall unconscious. We'll ask him, but don't mention the word. Hey, Endarire, are there any other good words to describe a clone?" asked Phoenix.
"Uhhh... doppelganger? I don't know."
"Doppelganger is fine. Lambda, you interrogate him carefully when he awakes." ordered Phoenix.
Codebreaker cleared his throat loudly.
Phoenix looked at him, annoyed at the interruption.
"Aren't you forgetting something here? Like, who's the leader of the VSP? And who's the leader of WASTE? Who's the assisting leader of WASTE? WHO isn't even included in any of these groups?!"
Phoenix was surprised. Well, wouldn't you be?
"Sorry. I kinda forgot, I guess. I'm just a lowly all-around good guy..."
"Stop quoting George of the Jungle. That movie sucked!" said Mack.
Phoenix made a face. "Sorry, I forgot about that." He sighed. "What to call me then...Good Guy. Yeah. Good Guy is enough. Anyway, sorry CB, sorry Dark_T_Zeratul, sorry Seawolf. I'll stop acting like a leader."
"Apology accepted," CB replied.
"No problem," Zeratul said.
"I didn't even think about it, buddy," Seawolf half-grinned.
Then suddenly, there was more silence.
After a while, they were silent.
Then, Codebreaker stopped being silent.
"I suggest a meeting. Things have become more complicated, with the appearance of Broker, and with the near-destruction of our ships, Mason's disappearance, Gurney's arrival -"
"Hey wait! Gurney, why are you here?" asked Mat-Def.
"To get the MadCat. I mean...to help you guys out. I'm an Antioch hero! I'm sure I can help you guys. I know you have problems, with the disappearance of Broker, and the near-destruction of Mason and the appearance of your ships, and all."
The team looked at him with a Weird Look(tm).
"Yeah, anyway, I call for a meeting. Meet inside the conference room in three minutes. Tops." said Codebreaker.
Within a minute they were all there. (How long does it take to walk into a room, after all?)
Inside the conference room, MysteriousGuy woke up. Unfortunately, Phoenix and Seawolf were just discussing clones, so he fell unconscious again. No-one noticed it, except me, and I felt that I should let you know. Anyway, back to the story.
Codebreaker stepped up to the chair (they still hadn't gotten themselves a better podium).
"VSPers, WASTErs, Phoenix and Gurney. It is time to retaliate. Our ship," he pointed towards where the Hyperion "- is nearly destroyed, thanks to the battle which you all performed superbly in. Good work, all of you. But we have no time to celebrate, not that we have anything to celebrate either, so it evens out. As you know, Auspex, Zeus and Ytse are captured. So is probably Mason Wheeler, unless they've killed him. But since it's in the rules that another guy’s character can't be killed, he hasn't been. But we're not supposed to know that. I have done a lot of thinking and I have subsequently come to the conclusion that we have to start doing what we do best. Infiltration missions. As you know, the beginning of all this was that someone removed Rockwell from everywhere except the forum. Now, when I thought about one thing, something tickled my mind. I discussed it with Phoenix, who, while he's not a VSPer or a WASTEr, is a Good Guy. And he is smart, that's why we went to him in the first place. We came to the conclusion that..." he paused and motioned to Phoenix, who took over.
"Broker is a really vicious bad guy. He's immensely intelligent, rich beyond Game-creators and he controls a massive force. But most importantly, he's a nitpick. He never leaves anything undone. Now, the easiest thing of all that concerned Rockwell to eliminate was the posts about him in the forum. And that was never eliminated. That was what led CB on this case from the beginning. So..."
"That means, Broker didn't do it. And since it wasn't Bakjak or TGF (I've asked the narrator about that) this leads me to one thing. Seawolf, Phoenix, this might sadden you."
Comprehension dawned upon the faces of the two mentioned.
"I am pretty sure that the criminal in this case is Mason Wheeler. Our friend. But! But, I'm also sure that he's a nice guy in heart. If we can talk to him, I'm sure he'll realize his faults. And since he's the guy that did it, he's the one that knows how to undo it. That's why our first priority now is to rescue them all. That leads me back to the point. Infiltration missions. I want each of you to equip yourself for installation missions. That means no Goliaths, Wraiths, Hyperions or MadCats. If needed, I have ghost equipment, zealot equipment, marine, firebat, and high and dark templar robes. Although I'm pretty sure most of you have their own stuff. Gurney, you're the exception. Why don't you go inside the equipment room."
"You got it, flapjack!" Gurney departed.
The team turned to Phoenix.
"Why did you bring him here?" asked Lambda Corps.
"Well, to be honest, I didn't. I bumped into him outside. I asked him what he was doing here, and he claimed that he was here to help us. Obviously he's lying. I bet I'm not the only one that noticed he said he wanted the MadCat. Question is, should we use him? I mean, he is an Antioch hero. Though they have less HP and attack than generic heroes, there is something special about them, since they can't die."
"Yeah." interjected Seawolf.
"I vouch that we use him. And you all agree, right?" asked Codebreaker.
The team nodded.
"Then it's decided. We're going infiltrating!" said Mack Kilimaro.
And there was much rejoicing...
The crew then went about collecting their various pieces of special equipment in, what else, the equipment room.
Odin's Eye strapped on his magic armoury thing and laced his magic spear Hrungnir into its sheath.
Codebreaker grabbed his laptop that turns into a laser rifle and grabbed some disk bombs.
Spooky brought along her "Casper Gun", just in case.
Lambda Corps attached some Greek letters to his belt, and brought a few guns, just for fun.
Phoenix suited up into some firebat armour, y'know cause of the flames and all.
Seawolf brought his infamous Gauss gun with him.
MilkDuds brought...a box of MilkDuds, naturally.
Mat-Def brought a Sonic Gun, to deafen people.
Flyspeck strapped on his Mashed Bug Shooter.
Endarire, of course, sheathed Calvinius.
Mysterious Guy was left in a detention cell, because someone who faints all the time should hardly be brought into battle.