Notice: The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. The correct title is “The Great VSP/WASTE Saga, Part III, Chapter 11.”
The Great VSP Saga:
Revenge of the Good Guys
The Stasis on TGF's fleet wore off.
Every Battlecruiser left in Broker's fleet charged its Yamato Gun at the same time, firing at the missile turrets and devastating the defenses around Auspex Studios. Spooky, Bond, Lambda, and Jenni fired one more lockdown round each, but then they were out of energy. They fell back to Auspex Studios with the other ground forces as quickly as possible, to whatever scant safety the building provided.
Seawolf did a double-take as one of the battlecruisers flew in with blue engines and began dropping saturation bombs on what was left of the defenses. The only ship he knew of that could do that was...
"That son of a—"! A conveniently timed loud explosion nearby was sufficient to censor his next word. He spoke into his wrist communicator. "Seawolf to all units. Mason's turned on us. We are under fire by the DragonSlayer."
Zeratul watched the bombs falling from the Proto-Cruiser and roared a Protoss howl of rage as he brought the Thanatos around. Bakjak turning on them was one thing, but he never thought he would have to face one of his comrades across the field of battle. Not Mason.
He checked his systems and went in. He had a friend to kill.
"How about that," said Bond. "We join your side as he joins theirs. What an utterly delightful betrayal!"
"Shut up!" said Jenni. "Mason may be stubborn and obnoxious at times, but he would never join the Bad Guys."
"Then how do you explain the DragonSlayer attacking us?" asked Lambda. He didn't want to believe it, but there seemed to be no other conclusion.
Suddenly, a huge explosion rocked Auspex Studios. The building shook and several loose items fell off of desks and shelves.
Flyspeck watched the destruction on the monitors. This was very bad. He pushed the intercom button. He didn't want to do it, but...
"This is Flyspeck to all Good Guy forces. Our position is untenable. All units abandon Auspex Studios. We must regroup at VSP HQ."
Mason started up the Narrator Tools again. Now that he was only one step removed from the Uberworld, his power was stronger. He used his Crossover Palmtop to summon a few items.
Abruptly the name of his ship changed, from DragonSlayer to DragonLord. He donned the golden armor and the tabard with the dragon emblem and wielded the golden sword. He could feel the power flowing through him. He was ready.
"Beware, Mark Brown. I come to reclaim the power that is rightfully mine."
He watched as the Good Guys evacuated Auspex Studios, then channeled a great blast of magic through the Yamato Gun, utterly destroying the building.
Bakjak felt a surge of Mana far stronger than he had ever felt before. Whatever Mason had just done involved powers far beyond the scope of anything he could use with the Staff of Magius.
For the first time ever in matters magical, Bakjak felt fear.
Mark Brown looked down and smiled. Sweat ran from his face in streams. It had taken a huge force of power, but the Plot was finally beginning to heal. All he had to do now was survive the confrontation.
What could Mason possibly be doing?
Why doesn't Mark Brown seem concerned?
Will Jenni ever trust him after this?
Free meaningless prize to the first person to identify the realm of Fiction from which Mason just drew new powers. (I left at least 4 clues.)
IN THE ANTIOCH UNIVERSE....
Mason Rockwell blinked and lowered his binoculars. First, he’d seen the DragonSlayer disappear. Then, less than a half hour later, the entirety of Broker’s fleet and ground forces around the base had vanished, seemingly recalled by the swirling gates that had swallowed them up. ‘What the...?!’
“I musta drunk more scotch than I thought!” Ian Anduin said from behind him, holding up his own binoculars.
“No, Rockwell saw it, too,” the ‘Great One’ replied. “And Rockwell might need some of that sco....”
He trailed off as he saw a small group of Terrans approaching them from the side opposite Broker’s seemingly deserted base.
“Hold it!” Rockwell shouted to them, raising his pistol. His men all saw their commander turn and followed his gaze, raising their weapons as well.
The group—there were five of them, Rockwell could now see—all dropped their weapons and raised their hands...but continued forward.
Rockwell considering telling them to stop immediately, but they were clearly not here to fight. He kept his pistol trained on them, just in case, and tried a different approach. “Who are you, and what do you want?”
“Don’t you recognize me, Rockwell?” the one in the lead asked. The voice sounded very familiar...
...and then the figure came close enough to see his face. Rockwell involuntarily gasped.
It was the Implementer...Auspex Turmalis. And with him were three other Antioch staff members—Zeus Legion, Ytse-Jam (whom Rockwell had heard do incredible voice impersonations of him before), and FistOfGod—and one other person that Rockwell didn’t recognize.
Auspex must have noticed the recognition on Rockwell’s face. “Been a little while, huh?” he asked, now close enough to hold out his hand, which he did.
Rockwell took it and shook it heartily, then greeted the others.
They spent the next several minutes catching each other up on what they’d seen and been through recently, both learning a vast amount from the other...and both getting very worried.
But in the end, they decided that, as a group, they had best break into Broker’s fortress to see if he was indeed gone. If he was, then they’d decide where to go from there.
The TAC Staff (and Desler) retrieved their weapons, and the band of heroes marched on to Broker’s base.
ONE HOUR LATER....
Broker and TGF walked side-by-side through the remains of Auspex Studios.
The main complex had been completely leveled. Yet they had still lost, and badly.
Out of TGF’s original fleet, only the Nemesis II, two battlecruisers (one heavily damaged), one arbiter (the arbiters had quickly been targeted and blown apart after recalling Broker’s fleet here), the twelve Advanced Wraiths (which hadn’t ever been launched), and a handful of normal wraiths, valkyries, and science vessels remained.
Broker had lost a number of ships too, leaving him with four battlecruisers (including his flagship, the Temujin), three squadrons of wraiths, half a dozen valkyries, a handful of science vessels, and a moderate number of ground troops (though most of his ground forces had been slaughtered by the base defenses and the Good Guys on the ground).
But worst of all, it appeared that all the Good Guys had escaped. AND Mason and Bakjak were both missing, having disappeared in the closing moments of the battle. ‘How did a scout and a Proto-Cruiser just slip away, anyway?!’ Broker wondered angrily.
TGF decided to reveal his trump card. “Fear not, my friend,” he said, smiling broadly and seeming to read his ally’s thoughts. “I have one weapon I have not yet made use of.” He pulled out a small radio clipped to his side, commanded whoever was on the other end to come in, and clipped it back to his belt.
“And who, pre tell, did you just summon?” Broker asked, flashing a sickly-sweet smile.
TGF smiled back evenly. “Watch,” he simply said, pointing past the smoking ruins of the base.
Broker looked where TGF indicated, and had to forcibly keep his mouth from dropping open.
Looking much like the alien spaceship emerging from the clouds in Independence Day, TGF’s ConFed Battle Platform burst through the smoke and came to a stop directly overhead.
Broker came out of his shock and grabbed his ally by the collar. “Why didn’t you use that before?!” he demanded, shaking TGF slightly.
TGF slid out of Broker’s grip and straightened his collar. “Because I was holding it in reserve. I was about to call it in when the Good Guys retreated. I never thought that they would leave...I figured they would fight to the death, as they always have in the past, and that I could punish them with my fleet and then, after they realized they were doomed, let them see the final, horrible sight of the Platform bringing their death.”
“And yet they escaped instead.”
TGF shrugged. “A simple miscalculation that will be corrected when we face them again. The Battle Platform will lead our combined fleet to victory.”
“And how do you know where they’ve gone?” Broker asked just as TGF’s radio crackled to life.
“Sir, this is Makgraf,” the radio called out.
TGF pulled it up and replied. “Yes?”
“It is confirmed. The Good Guys are indeed headed towards their secondary staging point.”
“Excellent. Good work, Makgraf. TGF out.”
“Where is this secondary base?” Broker asked.
TGF smiled once again. “VSP Headquarters. And I know exactly where it is. As soon as we are reorganized, we will go there and crush the Good Guys once and for all. Victory WILL be ours.”
Broker made a face, but nodded. “I hope so, for YOUR sake. If they escape us again, I will hold YOU responsible for not using that Battle Platform and destroying them outright in the first place. Overconfidence is a VERY dangerous thing.”
TGF nodded, hiding his nervousness well. “Of course. Now, let us prepare for our upcoming victory, shall we?”
Broker inwardly frowned at his ally’s foolish surety in their success. He knew all too well how the Good Guys could come out on top, no matter the odds.
But he also knew they couldn’t do that forever. One way or another, this would be the final battle. They would destroy the Good Guys or die trying.
Either way, Kurt Broker was prepared to go all the way.
Bakjak grimaced in pain in the small medical bed in the Millennium Falcon. Seawolf and Phoenix, not realizing that Bakjak had joined the Bad Guys once again, had found him wounded as they were evacuating Auspex Studios and carried him to the ship.
Now he sat, alone, contemplating his past...and his future.
He had always been in it for himself. When he had captured Rockwell way back in Part I, it had been for Bakjak and Bakjak alone. When he’d fought Auspex and Rockwell later, though he’d been with TGF, it had once again been for his own gain. Same with when he’d worked with the infested Wheeler clone, the Banned Ones, Broker, pirates, and even the Good Guys. He’d always considered himself a loner, and only worked with people when it worked in HIS favor.
So why had he rescued Seawolf? Why had he felt such grief when Tarun had “died” aboard the Nemesis? Why had he joined forces with TGF again, now his mortal enemy, just because Mason Wheeler had done so?
For the first time in his life, Bakjak realized that he had been working for someone OTHER than himself. He CARED about people other than himself. Seawolf and Tarun and Wheeler...he truly cared for their well-being.
And now he found himself torn. On the one side, he had Mason Wheeler. But if he worked with him, he’d have to work with TGF and Broker, both of whom would love to see Bakjak’s head on a platter. Plus Mason seemed to be quite...unstable right now.
On the other side, he had Seawolf and, if he ever returned, Tarun. But some of the Good Guys, especially Dark_T_Zeratul, liked Bakjak just as little as Broker and TGF.
Or he could just try to escape from here when the Falcon landed and go solo again...no. He couldn’t do that. Whichever side he chose, he couldn’t just leave now. He was mixed up in this just as much as anyone else, and he wanted to see it through to its conclusion. He HAD to see it through, for reasons even he couldn’t explain. ‘Besides,’ he thought glumly, ‘I’m hurt and have no ship.’ He still promised himself that he’d at least give Zeratul a piece of his mind about blowing up the Magius later, but his anger from before had subsided, and now, thinking rationally, he understood—even almost agreed—with Zeratul’s actions. ‘I would have done the same to him in similar circumstances,’ he realized. But that didn’t bring the Magius back.
He sighed. The dice were cast, and his fate was sealed. Bakjak, the loner, was a loner no more.
At least until this whole war was finally over, he was a Good Guy. Again. And this time, that was unlikely to change.
Somehow, the thought actually brought him a little comfort. The Good Guys had always come out on top before, though not without losses. It was probably the right crowd to ally oneself with, and certainly the lesser of two evils.
He sat back on the cot and let the healing fluids course through his arm.
And as the Good Guys continued towards VSP HQ, Bakjak fell into the first truly restful sleep he’d had in years.
Will the Good Guys accept Bakjak back into the fold?
Will they be victorious in the upcoming showdown at VSP HQ, or will the Bad Guys have THEIR revenge?
What the heck has gotten into Mason Wheeler?
Where are Tarun and Aklan?
What dastardly deeds are Nannoth/Taeradun up to?
Will we EVER actually see Ruaquick1 in this story?
Was Flyspeck able to get his pretzel hoard out of Auspex Studios during the chaotic evacuation?
Answers to these questions and more as the Great VSP/WASTE Saga marches on!
As Tarun and Aklan drew nearer to Auspex Studios in their respective craft, Havoc Wreaker's sensors started beeping rapidly. Tarun glanced down for a moment, then stared in disbelief at what he saw.
"Abort! Abort! Auspex Studios has been compromised!" he shouted, veering hard to port.
Aklan followed in suit.
The comm crackled in both ships, and a familiar voice spoke.
"Come in, Tarun. If you can hear me, please respond. Auspex Studios has been destroyed by TGF and Broker. We're at VSP HQ, so get your scaly Protossian ass over here. That's an order," Seawolf said, and the comm quickly cut out.
Tarun smiled inwardly and put in the new course, transmitted the coordinates to Aklan, and went tearing through the sky at full speed to VSP HQ where the rest of the Good Guys were waiting.
Alright, no more questions.
Bakjak awoke, startled by his surroundings, but he quickly regained his composure as he remembered where he was.
His black hair was matted against his sweaty forehead as he struggled to get up. Next to the bed was a large olive drab colored bag and a silver suitcase that he had ejected out of the Magius with.
He opened the bag and brought the Staff of Magius up into the light, the blue orb glimmering in the florescent light. The touch of the wood was cool, reassuring, and comforting.
Next, Bakjak pulled out his black robes, adorned with runes, and put them on.
He strapped on his pistol thigh mount, and secured his M9 pistol. The thigh mount felt a little tight, but not tight enough to stop the burning flow of blood moving through his veins.
Bakjak pulled out his M4A1 assault rifle from the bag; its compact size made it ideal for close combat. There was no magazine in the rifle, so he slapped one in. Bakjak pulled the charging handle back to chamber a round, then pushed it forward. He attached a straight sling to the rifle and slung it over his back.
Bakjak grabbed the Staff of Magius he had led gently on the bed while equipping himself.
Finally, he donned his sunglasses.
"Death searches for me and I cannot avoid it forever," Bakjak said with an all-knowing grin.
Makgraf saw TGF walking through his strike force. He had ordered a quick strike base constructed in what was left of Auspex Studios.
"Sir!" Makgraf said professionally, "Fleets fully repaired and our ground forces are prepped. Shall we attack?"
"Yes, Makgraf," TGF considered. "Makgraf, as of now I would like you to stop addressing me as 'sir'. We have known each other too long for that to apply to anything. In the battle ahead you and I have a special task. A task which will decide the outcome of the entire universe. Do not fear though. I still have one last trump card to play, and when I reveal it, the VSP, WASTE and Antioch itself will all fall before us. Do I have your support, my friend?"
Makgraf locked eyes with TGF. "Yes... TGF. I will fight alongside you to the end."
TGF smiled and clicked on his comm link. "To the attack," he said simply.
The final battle hath come. All questions shall be answered for when the guns are silent at VSP HQ, all will be decided and the fate of the Antioch Universe will be determined.
Mason had gathered the vast energy released by the vaporization of Auspex Studios unto himself. As soon as he had the chance, he slipped away from the battle without notice. He hid behind the dark side of the moon, among the wreckage of Broker's fortress, where nobody would think to look for him. He focused all of the energy the DragonLord's immense engines could produce into creating a tiny Crossover rift of immense power. This was no simple rift into the realm of Fiction; he stepped through it into the realm of Mark Brown, in the Uberworld.
"Now, Narrator, I have come to destroy you and take back my power."
Another voice spoke at exactly the same time from across the room. "Now, Narrator, I have come to destroy you and take your power for myself." Nannoth/Taeradun emerged through a similar rift.
Deos Arcana quickly stepped forward to protect his master, but a psionic shockwave from the Archon sent him flying across the room. He thudded into a wall, unconscious and barely alive.
Through it all, Mark Brown sat as in a trance, seeming to notice nothing that went on around him. Mason walked forward, holding his golden sword high, and struck downward. The weapon passed right through the illusion of Mark Brown. He roared in fury, seeking to sense the Narrator's hidden location.
As he was distracted, Nannoth/Taeradun struck him with a psionic blast. Mason shrugged off the blow, wielded his sword, and prepared to fight the Archon for ultimate control of the Plot.
Auspex's team entered Broker's base to find it completely deserted. There was nothing but the small Gate that Codebreaker had found earlier. Rockwell had demolished a few walls with his tank, and they had still found nothing. It seemed as if the whole base was deserted. Right as they were leaving for the Antioch Universe, Broker's men must have left for the Real World. They quickly decided to return to Auspex Studios and fight Broker.
They went outside, and as Auspex was about to open the Crossover home, a strange-looking man walked up to him. "Identify yourself!"
"I am Auspex Turmalis," Auspex said.
The man seemed astonished. He bowed to the Implementer. "Uhh...why have you come here? HOW have you come here?"
"We came to stop Kurt Broker. Who are you anyway?"
"I am Guardian Steve. I fight to protect the Binomes against the User's games."
Auspex had seen Reboot a few times, and sorta understood what this was about. "Why are you here?"
"I am looking for a friend of mine. A Guardian who vanished here. Broker destroyed his entire Sector while he was gone."
Rockwell said, "You mean that Jabroni Mason Wheeler said he was a Guardian?"
"You know Guardian Mason?" said Guardian Steve.
"Yeah. Rockwell knows him well."
Auspex was starting to understand what was going on. One thing he had to get straight. "First off, Mason Wheeler is not a Guardian. He's a User and an Implementer, like myself."
The shocked expression on Steve's face plainly meant only one thing. ‘This user destroyed a sector, and I let him get away with it.’ His expression hardened into a grim mask. "We need to talk."
On board the Nemesis II, Ruaquick1 had hacked into the VSP HQ's main computers via the Internet. A virus was planted and ready to activate. When the Bad Guy fleet arrived, all its defenses would be offline. And they would never know until it was too late.
Rua smiled evilly. This time, the Bad Guys would surely win.
Could things possibly get any worse?
Can the Good Guys survive with their defenses offline?
Who will win, Mason or N/T?
Where is Mark Brown in all this chaos?
Time to start writing endings.
With grim determination, the Good Guys had dug in at VSP Headquarters, prepared to finish the Bad Guys for good or go down in a blaze of glory trying.
Everyone had their own special way to prepare for the battle.
Lambda Corps would be kind of the overall leader. He was handling the VSP HQ’s defense systems and would monitor communications between the Good Guys and help coordinate their attacks, as well as try to hack into the Bad Guys’ communications with the HQ’s decoder/interceptor/scrambler (DIS). He’d also be using the advanced sensor equipment and scanning towers to further aid his friends outside, especially against pesky cloaked wraiths. Lambda still had no idea about the virtual time-bomb from Ruaquick1 ready to explode inside the system.
In the PossePlane, Codebreaker was picking at an Armageddon’s Call map on his laptop while MysteriousGuy nervously checked over his instruments and sipped on another Slushee, ready for takeoff the instant the Bad Guy fleet was sighted.
Dark_T_Zeratul had the Thanatos prepped for flight, but he was on the ground beside it, staring at the sky ahead. He wanted to see his enemies before some silly instrument told him they were there.
Nearby were the Good Guy’s two arbiters. As they wanted as many people on the ground as possible, Endarire was handling the Judicator by himself, which quite pleased the poet, who was still bitter about seeming to become a “minor, underused character” up to this point. TELE and Vank Tar were nearby with the Banned Ones’ arbiter, which the Good Guys were upset to find out was an older model lacking a cloaking field. TELE was inside powering up, but Vank was just watching the scene around him, his mind going about a mile a minute and his heart beating out of control. He was considering his options. He knew that TELE and Bond still planned betrayal, at least if things went well for the Bad Guys on their way here. Only hours ago, Vank would have heartily been with them. But now that the hour was upon him, he wasn’t so sure anymore. He had never been a lamer of nearly the same lameness as his two fellow Banned Ones. Nor, he suddenly realized, had he ever truly hated the Good Guys. So why HAD he become a Banned One in the first place? What was he fighting for? He continued to ponder this as he climbed inside the arbiter to prepare for the coming conflict.
Unlike the other ships, the Millennium Falcon was already airborne. Seawolf and Phoenix were at its controls, scouting around for the Bad Guy fleet and for Tarun, who had yet to reappear. Flyspeck and The Nemesis were sitting in the rear cockpit seats, learning the sensors to their sides and carefully watching Seawolf and Phoenix flying. The reason was simple...they’d probably be flying it in a little while. Seawolf wanted another go at stealing an enemy battlecruiser, but this time he wanted to do it the “old-fashioned way”, as he’d put it: getting overtop of a target and unloading directly onto it rather than relying on a recall. Made sense, considering how badly the recall idea had failed before. Typhoon and Pure Orange were in the rear of the ship, ready once again to aid Seawolf and Phoenix in their mission and hoping to actually be able to pull it off this time. Orange especially didn’t want to just sit this battle out riding around in the Falcon. Until then, they’d handle the laser cannon turrets a la Star Wars: A New Hope. Once Flyspeck and Nemesis took over, however, they’d slave-link the cannons back to cockpit control...a little less accurate, but accurate enough for the large-sized targets the ship would be engaging.
And then there were the ground forces. Mat-Def was once again the center point in the Mad Cat, which he’d made some hasty repairs on after the last battle. He was surrounded by most of the rest of the Alliance members.
Mack Kilimaro was pumping some new, supposedly better fuel into his flamethrower tanks that Flare had given him. He was skeptical about it, but if it was as good as Flare had promised it was, it would definitely be good to have.
Flare himself was already fueled up and strapping makeshift “Flare Grenade” launchers onto his firebat suit underneath the flamethrower nozzles. They only had a magazine of five grenades per launcher, but he knew that in a battle like the one coming up, every extra bit of firepower would help. Besides, what sort of self-respecting WASTEr would pass up the chance for more weaponry?
Odin’s Eye and Spooky were chatting, telling some funny stories from the past to ease the tension. Odin had Hrungnir strapped to his back and his psi blades ready to go. Spooky had her C-10 hung over her shoulder with a strap and a small sack at her waist with lockdown canisters and also experimental acid-filled rounds that would hopefully give her an edge against any large RoboZerg that got close.
Lucainan and Fenrir were also talking, though since they didn’t have the same history, Fenrir was telling Luc the story about how he’d nearly been blasted into oblivion by that Yamato blast in Part I of the Saga; Lucainan had never heard the story in detail. He was petting Rainbow Meow, his favorite of his eight savage kitties, while the others— Fluffy, Muffy, Tuffy, Tiger, Mittens, Bazzel, and Felix—purred at his feet. Fenrir had his Bashing Bat™ out of its sheath and was waving it around to illustrate his story. His mini-missile launcher, still unused up until now, was slung over his shoulder.
Nearby, NovaSeaker was practicing some sword fighting, trying to ignore Jamz Bond, who was talking incessantly, trying to convince him, subtly, how much of a Good Guy he was now. Subtlety was apparently not one of his strong points, because Nova had counted about a dozen “you believe me, right?”’s. If it hadn’t have been for the fact that he was packing a rather nice-looking C-10 Rifle that would soon be used against his enemies, NovaSeaker would probably silence him with Azurewrath and Shadowfang right here and now.
Ixyon, not surprisingly, was by himself. He’d always been the quiet, loner type in the group, and now was no different. He simply preferred to spend time quietly thinking to himself at times like this. For the first time, he was wearing some Mandalorian battle armor he’d acquired from somewhere or another a while back, and he had his M4-A1 Rifle, very similar to Bakjak’s, in his hands with several extra clips in a bandolier that crossed his chest.
Bakjak himself was hanging back near the entrance to VSP HQ, trying to stay out of sight of everyone. His mind was still in a bit of turmoil, especially regarding Dark_T_Zeratul. He didn’t want to see the leader of WASTE at all right now. He was hoping that he could somehow get through this entire battle without it happening and then silently slip away.
Another mind was in turmoil as well...that of Jenni Booth. (Yes, her last name is Booth. Don’t ask how I know that, just keep reading, okay? Yes, starting now. *sigh*) She was trying very hard, but she couldn’t help but think about Mason. He’d changed so much...she barely knew him anymore. He had been angry and bitter and callous since she’d first seen him after his battle with that Lavos monster thing. And she had no idea why. At first she’d thought it had just been about Seawolf, but this seemed to go far beyond that. There was something almost sinister about Mason now, almost as if he wasn’t even acting of his own accord.... Well, whatever had happened to him, she wasn’t going to let it bother her. She had changed a lot, too. No longer was she the mere damsel in distress with not a clue as to what was happening around her that she had been before Mason had disappeared months ago. She was now a Starcraft-wise, C-10 Rifle-wielding medic ready to fight as hard as those around her, and help keep them healthy and fighting. Jenni was now one of them, a member of the Alliance. And she was as prepared to go down fighting as any of the rest of them.
They were all ready...at least, as ready as they were going to be. Because in the blink of an eye, VSP HQ’s sensors went from showing nothing to showing a huge fleet of ships slowly advancing on the base.
“Attention, all Alliance forces,” Lambda called over the comm. Bad Guy fleet inbound. ETA: four minutes.”
The Bad Guys had arrived.
MEANWHILE, IN THE ANTIOCH UNIVERSE....
“...so basically, you came here to restore the Antioch Universe to how it was before these fans of yours started meddling with it?” Guardian Steve finished.
“Exactly,” Auspex said. “The chaos in the Saga Universe has directly interfered with the stability of this universe. Rockwell...” he pointed back at “The Great One”, chatting with Ytse-Jam, “...and Broker and Ian Anduin and others have basically been corrupted, as has this entire place. Rockwell is supposed to be in the hands of the Protoss awaiting a trial, Anduin was never supposed to leave Tornod III, and Broker isn’t supposed to be plotting how to defeat anyone, at least not like this. And NONE of them are supposed to know anything about Mason Wheeler or anyone else from the Saga. These universes were never meant to collide like this. They were meant to run parallel, not intersecting one another over and over like they have been.”
“Yes, of course,” Steve said. He smiled slightly. “For example, you and I were never to meet.”
“Right,” Auspex said, a little dryly. It was ironic indeed that he and the others had to enter Antioch themselves to fix it.
“Well, how do we figure out what to do to restore Antioch?”
“That’s the easy part,” Auspex replied. “Already got it figured out.”
Steve looked confused. “And the hard part?”
Auspex’s eyes narrowed, just slightly. “Doing it.”
“And what is ‘it’”?
“Are you familiar with the Baphomet, Guardian?” Zeus spoke up.
Steve stiffened. “You mean the Baafo’Met?”
“Yes,” Zeus confirmed, hiding a smile, despite the situation at hand. It was interesting to see his stories’ direct influence on things here. “We fear it may have become aware of the fact that those from our universe have broached its.”
“Then that would mean...no. You think it...it...no.”
Auspex’s eyes definitely narrowed this time. “Where is Nannoth/Taeradun?”
“Oof!” Mason oofed (yes, you can oof...try it sometime) as another of Nannoth/Taeradun’s psionic shockwaves hit him. Fortunately, his golden armor took the brunt of the blow, and rather than having the psionic energy course through his body, he merely felt as though a brick had been thrown against his chest. And a big brick, at that. Maybe the psionic energy would have been better after all....
“Silence, fool!” Nannoth/Taeradun told...well, me. “Cease this silly banter and continue talking about us!”
Mason took this opportunity to strike at the archon, coming in from the side and swinging his golden sword up from the ground in a powerful uppercut-like move. The sword failed to penetrate the shields, but it did succeed in causing the archon to scream like a wounded...um...archon.
But Mason’s upper hand was short-lived. Nannoth/Taeradun had fought many such battles before, and this pathetic weakling would have to do better to get the best of them. The archon let out what was probably a battle cry, and thrust forth an invisible wall of psionic energy that threw Mason backwards. Fortunately he was far from any walls or major pieces of machinery or furniture, so he simply came skidding to a halt on the floor rather than being slammed against some hard object.
Within a second, Nannoth/Taeradun was upon him. Mason, now on his knees, dove to the side as a psionic blast blackened the floor where he had just been.
He came out of a roll on his feet, and quickly charged at the archon. His sword came down, but Nannoth/Taeradun managed to deflect it with a well-aimed shockwave.
The battle continued...
...just as another battle was getting underway.
“Are you sure about this?” Aklan’s voice came from his comm.
“Very,” Tarun replied. “We need to buy the guys as much time as we can for them to prepare. They must have really gotten their butts kicked to abandon Auspex Studios to the enemy, so the more time they have to lick their wounds, the better chance we all have of victory this time.”
“Yes, you’re right,” she agreed. “I’m ready, then, my love.”
Tarun smiled, at least as best a Protoss can smile. (IF they smile.) It was good not hear statements from Aklan like that being said sarcastically anymore. “Then let’s do this. On my count.”
They were coming up on the rear end of the Bad Guy fleet, their signals being disrupted by both the engines of the ships they were pursuing and the trees they were flying only feet above. So far, it had cloaked their signals, but that was about to change. Tarun had known that they could have easily beat the fleet to VSP HQ, but he also knew that the Bad Guys would never expect an attack from the rear, especially not now with the HQ only a minute or two away. With just their two ships against the whole fleet, Tarun knew that they couldn’t do too much, but as he’d said, every little bit counted. And this would be a heck of a lot more effective than speeding to the VSP HQ and waiting...surprise, Tarun had discovered, was one of the very best weapons a warrior could have at his disposal.
“One...” he said into the intercom, picking his target and shifting to the left a bit to get behind it.
“Two....” He saw Aklan decide on a target as well, moving her valkyrie a little farther away from his scout to prepare for...
“THREE!” Tarun punched Havoc Wreaker’s engines to full and climbed to the height of the battlecruiser he had picked within seconds. As soon as he was lined up, he squeezed all his weapons triggers at once, sending a volley of anti-matter missiles and photon cannon fire slamming directly into the larger ship’s engines. He wanted to do the same thing again, but that maneuver had set off several warnings, mostly of weapon systems overheating problems, in his cockpit, so he settled for a follow-up pair of missiles. He was firing another pair when the cruiser finally managed to launch defensive fighters of its own. Well, if you could call RoboZerg “fighters”.
No less than two dozen RoboMutalisks came screaming out of the battlecruiser’s hangar bays. Tarun managed to squeeze off one last pair of missiles, his third after the initial attack, and then was forced to pull up to avoid actually hitting the back of the now-stopped cruiser. As he passed overtop, his last view of the engines was of them suffering some kind of explosion and beginning to flare out, which elicited another smile (or whatever) from him.
But then the muties were upon him, and they didn’t appear to have any intention of letting him past to VSP HQ and relative safety. About a dozen of them came directly at him, and the rest swung up around the sides of the battlecruiser and tried to hit him in the rear.
There was only one way to really get past. Tarun drained the power from his shields and threw it into the engines, trying to get as much speed as possible. If he did this right, he should be able to blast right through the muties in front of him, outrunning the ones behind him, before any of them could do any major damage.
He quickly realized it wasn’t going to work as he took several hits at once. Multiple alarms began blaring, and Tarun was forced to slow down to avoid overheating the already-stressed engines. He banked at a sickening angle to port, hoping to somehow make it past before the enemies’ shots found anything critical...
...and blinked as a number of the muties were blown sideways by some kind of weapons impact. Then a gray blur flew across his field of vision and continued through the mutalisks itself. It took Tarun a second to realize it must have been Aklan, and another second to realize he suddenly had the opening he’d desperately needed. He made a sharp dive to avoid the acid shots now pummeling him from behind and sped forward.
He reached the front of the battlecruiser and flew onward, thankful that for some reason, it wasn’t firing on him. He saw Aklan’s valkyrie clear the crest of a hill in front of them, and he followed. On the other side, they could see VSP HQ, with all the Good Guy ships hovering above it and several dark spots in front that could only be whatever ground-based heroes there were.
“Are you all right, Tarun?” Aklan’s voice came from the intercom.
“Fine now. Thank you for the help there, love, though I was just about to blast those muties into dust,” he replied, trying to imagine the face Aklan was undoubtedly making now. “How did things go before that?”
“Not as well. I did hurt them a little, I think, but these rockets are pretty useless against a battlecruiser.”
“I know, but even a little damage now is less we have to do later.”
“It’s about damn time!” a new voice cut in. “Where the heck have you been, Tarun?!”
“Nice to see you again too, Wolf Man.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Seawolf replied, the smile apparent even in just his voice. “Nice maneuver back there...we saw it on radar.”
“And it seems to have slowed them down, too,” Lambda spoke up. “They’ve all stopped now, actually.”
“Well done, Tarun,” Zeratul said. “And welcome back.”
“Hopefully we can have a proper welcoming back party with hugs and beer and all that crap later,” MysteriousGuy cut in. “For now, though, I suggest we try to survive. That WAS a nice little trick, but it’s not gonna stop them for very long.”
“Of course,” Tarun said, now coming up alongside the forward Good Guy ships. “Where should we position ourselves?”
“Well then FIX IT!” TGF shouted. “And I want it done five minutes ago!” He angrily slapped off the intercom and cursed.
“The Punisher reports much more minor damage, sir,” Makgraf reported.
“Much more minor?” TGF asked with his brow furrowed. “Is that proper English? And what did I tell you about that ‘sir’ stuff?”
“Sorry...TGF,” Makgraf corrected himself. “Captain Kirk reports that they can still continue with only a slight decrease in maneuverability. Speed has not been affected at all.”
“Of course not,” TGF said. “The Punisher was attacked by a valkyrie. The Reckoning was struck by the Havoc Wreaker.”
“That was the WASTEr Tarun?”
“Yes, though I have no idea who was with him in the other ship,” TGF replied, rubbing his chin as he did when deep in thought. “All RoboZerg fliers have been recalled?”
“Yes, by all ships.”
TGF made a decision. “Then inform the Reckoning that we are leaving them until they can bring their engines back online. And then inform Broker’s Temujin and the rest of the fleet that we are proceeding with the attack, now.”
“A wise decision,” Broker’s voice said.
“What?” TGF was surprised. “You had the intercom on this whole time?”
“Of course,” Broker replied. “I wanted to know the condition of your ships. Now, you were saying, about the fleet?”
“Yes,” TGF said, slightly annoyed. “Makgraf, relay the messages. We will not allow the Good Guys any more time to prepare. On to the battle.”