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 3.”
The Great VSP Saga:
Revenge of the Good Guys
For three months, Mason had been stuck inside the Antioch universe. It was not as unpleasant as it would seem at first, actually. He could play Starcraft all he wanted, without his mom nagging him about "wasting time on that computer." Of course, Starcraft does become a bit less enjoyable when you're actually *inside* the game and getting shot at, but it was still fun. Suddenly, he felt a tremor in the Plot. He cast outwards with his Narrator sense, all that remained of his once-great powers. Hmm... so, the story had begun again. He no longer had to rely on his wits and Starcraft skill alone; there would now be a Narrator to create plot contrivances, and now that the story had started, he was sure that his Good Guy friends would soon be able to access the Crossover successfully.
It was a shame, actually. Mason had programmed the Crossover in a matter of hours on a whim, while the greatest minds in the Starcraft campaign community had labored for three months without success to duplicate it. If only Mason had some way to access the outside world he would tell his friends how he had done it. Of course, that would make it too easy, so it was impossible. But now the Saga had resumed in earnest, so help was on the way. He hoped.
He tried to read the fabric of the Plot. This would be so much easier to do with his Narrator Tools, which he had on his Zip disk (every good computer guy keeps a backup), but he had yet to find an IBM-compatible computer in the futuristic setting of Starcraft. His Common Foe Patch still worked, but nothing else on the Zip disk was usable. He struggled to make sense of the Plot across the barrier of realities, but could only get garbled images.
Twenty patches, twenty failures.
The Banned Ones, in the carrier Nemesis.
Bakjak watching from his Scout.
Jenni, still with the Good Guys, waiting for the Crossover to be successful.
Seawolf, his mind in conflict—
A surge of adrenaline broke Mason's concentration. ‘That dirty, rotten—’
As quickly as it had come, he cooled his anger down. This was one of Mason's most useful talents: he could will himself calm. If he put his mind to it, he could keep a cool head in any circumstances. He never got stage fright, and could (but seldom chose to) back down from any argument without losing his temper. He needed every bit of that control now.
Mason forced himself to think about it rationally, and it made perfect sense. Jenni was caught in strange circumstances, and her knight in shining armor was trapped in another world. Of course Seawolf would try to help comfort her. He wouldn't be a true friend, to Mason or to Jenni, if he didn't. And he could hardly blame Seawolf for falling for her. Plenty of guys had. It made perfect sense, distasteful though it may be. Besides, Seawolf had done this kind of thing before, and got in plenty of trouble from Tarun over it. He would be a fool to repeat *that* mistake. (Especially since Tarun didn't have a Proto-Cruiser...)
Mason tried to concentrate on the Plot again, but could only make out one other image. That of Aklan and Ruaquick1 joining forces with the Banned Ones. This one took him by complete surprise. Aklan would never join the bad guys; she'd end up fighting against her love Tarun. And despite the bad blood that existed between Mason and Rua, he had to admit when he thought about it objectively that Rua had never shown any signs of sympathy towards the Banned Ones. Something strange was going on here, but he couldn't discern the reason for it.
The voice of the Adjutant broke Mason out of his reverie. "Warning, incoming SCX. Warning, incoming SCX." Mason looked overhead and saw a large purple cube descending upon him. It was eerie how close the makers of Reboot had been. The Antioch Universe existed inside a computer (actually, inside many computers, since there were many Antioch players), and the computer life had been one of the few things he had been well-equipped to survive, being a huge Reboot fan.
The game cube enveloped him, and he found himself in an Ice terrain map. He quickly tapped his Patch twice. "Reboot!"
He rebooted as a Ghost. Looking around, he saw two hydroelectric power generators nearby, and a group of soldiers. This was one of the hardest A2 maps to survive, since Gurney's strike force would soon be coming in overpowering numbers. He had three chances to defeat the User, but due to A2's pathetically easy difficulty he would need every bit of skill he had in order to do it.
Oh well, he thought. He had survived this scenario at least a dozen times in the last three months. The scenario was only easy because there was no AI running it. He would change that in a hurry. This User was about to face a defense that no computer could ever think up.
Mason checked the power gauge on his arm. Nearly full. Good. He began to call out orders to the surrounding troops.
The User quickly demolished the first generator. He loaded Rockwell and his three Siege Tanks into the dropships and prepared to deploy them. Suddenly, Mason and another cloaked Ghost locked them down. "Siege up!" he called. The User sent a Medic to Restore the dropships, and a science vessel to detect the cloaked ghosts. But Mason was prepared for both. The Medic came by and got blasted into bloody pieces by the tanks Mason had sieged on the cliff. As the Explorer vessel hovered into view, Mason locked it down as well.
This next part was the hard one. It had to be accomplished quickly. Mason ordered his Marines to attack the Dropships. And just in time, too. The User was sending a large force to dispatch these attackers, including Wraiths. The first Wraith flew into sight and fired a laser at Mason. Right before it hit, the Dropship containing Rockwell exploded under heavy Gauss fire. "Game Over," came the Adjutant's voice.
Ha! He had beaten the User, and not even been wounded this time. He was getting better at this whole Guardian thing. Ironic, he thought, that his victory had come by destroying a Dropship with Rockwell inside...
If I were the User, he thought, how would I have beaten that strategy? It was a question he asked himself after every Game. Simply because he had won did not mean that the User would let him win by the same trick the next time. Assuming it was the same User, of course. He was his own hardest critic in these matters, since his life was on the line. "There is no teacher but the enemy," he quoted to himself. "Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy shows you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are to do what you can to him and what you can stop him from doing to you." That simple piece of military strategy took on a horrifying new meaning here. "Ender's Game" was only a story, but it fit all too well here. Only by watching the User could he learn to defeat him.
Ever since he had come here, wounded and hunted by Broker, he had learned to survive. The wound was easy enough to heal; he had given himself Regeneration using his Patch. But avoiding Broker's notice and keeping from being Nullified in the process had been a trying ordeal. He had become Mason, Guardian of Antioch. He had rallied the few Sprites that survived in the Antioch Universe and showed them how to fight back against the Users. It was a noble cause. Something he could enjoy doing, and doing for a long time, but for one factor.
He really missed his friends back in the real world. He had too much RL stuff to do. Common Foe needed finishing, and surely SpecOps did as well. And he had never gone for three months without at least talking with Jenni. That weighed on him heavily every day. If only he could find a Portal to the Web, he could email Auspex and show him how to access the Crossover. But there was no use worrying about it. All he could do now was wait for the next Game.
Why are Rua and Aklan working with the Banned Ones?
What will happen between Jenni and Seawolf?
What will Mason do to Seawolf when he finds out?
How will Mason and the Alliance be reunited?
Find out next time in...The Great VSP/WASTE Saga: Part III!!
Meanwhile, at the Team Antioch HQ...
"...And that was the last patch. We had used them all, and none of them had worked. We were hoping that you could do something about it," said Dark_T_Zeratul.
"Well, here's the thing," said Auspex. "Since Seawolf was the closest to Mason, and since he knows exactly what happened best, I'll need to confer with him. Say, where is he, anyway?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen him since the Millennium Falcon got lost," said Fenrir. "Can't you just try without him?"
"Hmm... I guess. Tell ya what, I'll show you a new dimensional wormhole device that I've been working on with Zeus and Desler, and once that's done you get Seawolf."
"Great! Walk this way." Auspex walked towards a curtain hidden in the shadows in a sinister, mad scientist style. And everybody else followed. Quite predictably due to an incredibly overused gag, they walked in exactly the same manner.
Behind the curtain was an enormous device. It looked almost exactly like the Chronosphere from C&C Red Alert.
"I call it... the Warpsphere!" said Auspex. "And before you ask, I have never played Red Alert, or any Command and Conquer game for that manner. So I've never heard of or seen the Chronosphere." The group accepted this statement as truth and listened. "It works like this: You insert a zip disk containing as many patches as you like. The Warpsphere will activate each patch, in turn, until you turn it off. At that point the disk will be ejected and each used patch marked. Then the disk can be inserted into a computer so that the faulty patches can be deleted. Any questions?"
"Yeah, I've got a question," said Zeratul. "How come you don't have a built-in computer on the Warpsphere so that you could delete files without having to stick it in another computer?"
Auspex stared at him for a few moments. "You know what? Why don't you start the test? Then I can see if it works or not. You see, right now I'm just trying to get it working. If it works, then I can put in some cool add-ons." Auspex handed Zeratul a disk. "I have put a patch on here called the Dark Patch. It makes every Protoss ground unit cloaked and Dark Templar-like, and every Protoss air unit Dark Templar-like. One example is the Dark Carrier. It launches miniature Corsairs. Sure they can't attack ground, but it becomes the ultimate anti-air unit! And then there are Dark Zealots. Same as regular Zealots, but cloaked. Go ahead, try it out. If it works, then you, as a Dark Templar, might be able to enter. But only you, since it reacts only to the Dark Templar. When you're ready, just stick the disk in this slot here." Auspex indicated a small slot with a small, unlit light on it.
Dark_T_Zeratul inserted the disk. The light turned red, then yellow, then green. The part of the Warpsphere that looked like a Cement Mixture began to spin, faster and faster, until it was only a blur. A sound like a crackle of electricity came, and the front end started to shimmer. Then it burned away, much in the way that a movie strip burns. The hole opened until it was about five feet around, and then stopped. It looked like it would shut any second. "Now Zeratul, now! Before it closes!" yelled Auspex. Zeratul didn't need a second warning. He closed his eyes, and plunged in.
What is going on inside the Dark Patch?
Will the rest of WASTE find Seawolf?
Will these annoying questions EVER stop being asked?
Find out, in the next part of the VSP/WASTE Saga!
The members of WASTE were on break, and thus were chillin' in their respective 'cribs.' Ixyon was, as usual, sitting in his quarters listening to some excruciatingly loud heavy metal music and doing his best to ignore the mess about him. His air guitar sounded a bit out of key since he hadn't used it for ages, so he decided to take a minute to tune it up. Then, after thinking for a moment, he convinced himself that he was not insane and, thus, shouldn't be tuning invisible instruments, so he placed it gently down in the corner of the room. He glanced dejectedly around the room at the numerous piles of crap that had accumulated from months of neglect and, after quietly cursing his laziness and aiming a few insults at the 'junk gods' (whom he was sure had placed a hex upon him at birth), he set to work on the nearest mountain of dirty laundry.
After a good three hours of work, the floor of the room was actually visible. The dirty clothes were in baskets, the clean clothes were in drawers, the magazines were stacked on the corner of the table and his books were on the bookshelf next to his bed. 'Well,' he thought to himself, 'that wasn't so bad. Now maybe I can keep it clean for a good three days.' He grabbed the baskets of dirty clothes and headed off down the corridor toward the laundry room.
On the way, he said “Hi” to Lucainan who walked past him carrying two of his many cats and responded with an obligatory “Hey.” The eardrum-shredding tune still hung in his mind and he hummed quietly while he clunked down flights of steel stairs and another long corridor.
At last he came to his destination and turned the corner into the room which contained the large makeshift washing machines that all the crew members periodically used to 'wash' their clothes. He opened two of the circular doors, threw his whites in one and colors in the other, slammed them shut again and turned the dials to 'wash - warm/cold - normal fabrics.' Grabbing a chair in the corner, he leaned back against the wall and stared up at the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. They hummed together, subtle harmonies accompanied by rhythmic blinking and popping.
The machines simultaneously rumbled to a stop and rang their bells, which prompted Ixyon to groan under his breath while slowly standing and strolling over to grab his clothesbaskets. He impatiently emptied the contents of the machines into their respective baskets, inadvertently tossing several socks onto the floor, which he scooped up on his way through the airlock and out of the room.
He was back into his quarters in a fraction of the time it took him to make the trip down and, after tossing his 'clean' clothes into a heap on his bed, he jogged toward what could literally be called the 'mess hall.' It really was a mess, because hardly anyone bothered to clean up anything that was spilled, so it sat on the floor until it went bad and someone got so sick of the smell they agreed to mop it up. Ixyon was allergic to everything, which he inherited from his mother, so this wasn't one of his favorite places. He quickly rushed over to the counter, grabbed a bowl of what might be referred to as 'soup' and caught a seat at the nearest table. It almost looked like it could jump out of the bowl and strangle you, but he was hungry so he began wolfing it down and had eaten the bowlful in less than a minute.
Glancing down at his watch, he noticed it was nearly time for his shift on bridge duty. 'I hope the VSP is holding up. The Rez isn't exactly a friendly place,' he thought idly, then wondered how he knew the VSP was there. Oh well.
The bridge wasn't far from the mess hall so he arrived in a few seconds, opened the airlock and stepped out onto the deck. Everyone seemed to be busy with their own thing, so they really didn't notice him walk over and take his post.
'Augh,' he thought to himself, 'I really hate this stuff. I'm always running diagnostics on this or cross-checking that. They always pin the tedious stuff on me.'
The numbers and lights flashed on the screen before him, but he seemed to ignore them and work almost subconsciously. His mind wandered elsewhere as his fingers punched in the keystrokes, never missing a mark. Then an alarm went off. He instantly snapped back to reality as the word 'WARNING' flashed in large red letters.
"What?! What is it?!" he shouted, turning around and getting out of his chair at the same time, nearly falling flat on his face. "Are we under attack?!"
"I don't know," said Lucainan. "I'm not seeing anything on the scanners. Get back to your post! I need your help on the sensors!"
"R..right!" Ixyon dashed back over to his post and slammed the keys to bring up the scanner readout. Luc was right; there wasn't anything out there. Frantically, he shifted frequencies and manually swept the space around the ship. Still nothing came up on the screen, and still the warning alarm continued to sound. He slammed on the 'All Hands' button and shouted into the microphone.
"Anyone who has a lead on this alarm is welcome to give us a ring up in command! We ain't getting any younger!" Ixyon was getting desperate. He'd never really been in a situation like this. His philosophy was: "Find the problem. Frag the problem. Problem solved." He couldn't find anything to shoot, and the sweat was already beading on his forehead. His eyes darted back and forth across the screens and to the keyboard in front of him. He gulped down an urge to throw up and kept on searching... then he saw it.
TGF relaxed on the bridge of the Nemesis. The Nemesis itself was a beauty that had been modified to suit his purposes. In addition to the 8 Interceptors on board, there were a few scouts, corsairs, and wraiths. Those ships sat on the deck of the modified hanger. The Nemesis had 32 flak cannons for air defense spread all around. There was also a beam cannon to neutralize bigger threats although it could be used to take down smaller ships as well. Vank turned around and addressed his leader, "Sir, we're nearly over Antioch HQ now."
"Good," TGF replied.
Vank looked a little scared but added, "A ship has decloaked off the port bow and is hailing us."
"Very well," TGF looked irritated. "Onscreen."
The screen flickered to life once again since the encounter with the anti-matter missiles. TGF found it interesting that he was staring at a scout.
"Who are you?" inquired TGF.
"This is Magius," replied the scout. "You are in direct violation of air space traffic over this sector. If you do not disengage, we will be forced to vaporize all hostiles within this air space."
First, TGF grinned, then he out right laughed. "We? You and what army?"
Vank looked down at his radar screen, several dots started appearing from out of nowhere. He was sweating profusely. "Sir! Several wraiths have decloaked all around us. These aren't government ships. All these ships belong to Death's Legion, a Pirate group."
Bakjak wondered if his farce would work. Now that he had gotten an even more thorough scan of the Nemesis, he now knew he would lose this battle should the Nemesis decide to engage. The 15 or so wraiths under his command were good pilots, even if they were idiots in every other respect but not enough to withstand the battering this carrier would deliver. "Aye matey, we be ready," came a Pirate's voice.
"Good," Bakjak replied coldly. He felt as if he had condemned himself to death.
What Ixyon saw disturbed him. On the radar screen, he saw several dots flickering in and out as if a battle was being fought. Lucainan looked at Ixyon's face and frowned, "What is it?"
"Something strange. The radar is acting up I think," replied Ixyon. "Normally it's the most quiet piece of equipment here. It's probably nothing."
"Call Seawolf, we should investigate just in case. No need taking chances," Lucainan said.
TGF looked dark and grim for a moment, then his eyes lit up. "Vank, call all the Banned Ones in here. We're going to show these Pirates a welcoming party. We will proceed with the plan on Antioch HQ while we take out these Pirates."
TGF glanced over at Vank and said to himself, ‘Why the hell is that incompetent idiot in my army?’ TGF had never liked Vank. In fact, TGF has always despised Vank, him and his unnamed story always asking for reviews... It was time he did something about him.
"Mr. Tar?" TGF said, "I have a special assignment for you. You're to lead a squadron of Wraiths against the attackers and draw them away from the ship. You depart immediately. Your wing will consist of 12 ships including your own. These Wraiths are state of the art I don't want to lose them. Good luck Mister Tar."
Vank's face lit up with excitement and saluted clumsily. He ran off the bridge towards the fighter bay. TGF muttered something and turned to the officer at a nearby console.
"Ensign, you are ordered to rig Mr. Tar's Wraith to explode as soon as it leaves the fighter bay," a thought occurred to him, "No not explode, that Wraith is valuable. Flood his air supply with a toxic chemical."
"Which chemical, sir?" the Ensign asked.
"You may use your judgment as long as it kills him," TGF replied, "Continue on course to Antioch HQ."
What will TGF do at Antioch HQ?
How painful will Vank's death be?
What connection does Bakjak have with these pirates?
Find out in the next chapter of the VSP/WASTE Saga!
Spooky watched Mason Wheeler running from something. She called out to him, but he didn't seem to hear. Suddenly, a large group of Marines wearing red ran by, pursuing Mason. And leading the group was none other than Kurt Broker.
Mason reached a dead end at the end of a dark alley. He had no choice but to turn and fight. He stimmed up and started pumping bullets into the Marines, calling out to Spooky. "HELP!" But it was no use. The marines were too many for him. Right as Spooky thought his death was inevitable, he burrowed into the ground. Broker cursed and called for a Scanner Sweep. Spooky took careful aim with her C-10 rifle, hoping to bring down Broker in one shot. She didn't hear the siege tank driving up behind her. Suddenly, intense pain filled her body as she was shot by Rockwell. She screamed as she dropped her canister rifle. She found herself unable to move her legs or arms. She could hear Rockwell sieging up behind her. A cluster of blue spectral lights appeared nearby, residual traces of a Scanner Sweep.
It all happened too fast. Rockwell speaking. "Now Rockwell's going to lay the smackdown on that Jabroni Mason Wheeler." Mason unburrowing. Him vanishing in a transport beam. The DragonSlayer appearing and bombing the Marines. The Marines shooting the DragonSlayer. Broker's battlecruiser appearing and destroying the ship. Spooky screamed as the surviving Marines turned on her and raised their weapons. Then...
...she woke up in a cold sweat. She was back in Codebreaker’s house, she remembered. They had come there after the duel to make repairs on the Falcon. It had gotten late, and everyone went to sleep. She looked at the clock. It was 5:30. Too late in the morning to get back to sleep, so she went out and found the nearest SCV suit and started working on repairs.
It hadn't worked. Every time Mason tried to use his Narrator Sense to communicate with the Real World, he was interrupted by a Gamecube drop. And every time, the communication ended up garbled, causing nightmares for his comrade. He had tried to reach Jenni a few times, but that had never worked. Then he tried to reach out to Seawolf and Spooky, two of his closest friends among the Good Guys. But it seemed that the bad luck involved everyone, not just Jenni. He couldn't get through to them. He would need another way. But how?
He pondered on this for several nanoseconds, then realized that there was one person here who might have technology he could use. But it would mean leaving behind all of the Antioch Sprites to fend for themselves. He couldn't do that; they'd get slaughtered without their Guardian. But he couldn't think of any other way, so he relegated the thought to his subconscious to work on.
And far away and yet strangely nearby, the only other person with a Narrator Sense in the Antioch Universe smiled evilly. His game-delay mechanism was working perfectly. Due to the time discrepancy between computers and real life, he could cause Gamecubes to drop whenever he wanted them to, without causing any perceptible lag in the real world. He had a few he was saving, to activate when he felt Mason's Narrator Sense in use. Since he could not find Mason, he had no choice but to make Mason come to him, and since he had the only existing Crossover technology in the Antioch Universe, that should not be hard to accomplish.
Kurt Broker smiled. These Good Guys were all so very predictable.
Will Mason infiltrate Broker's fortress?
If so, how?
Can Vank Tar survive TGF's diabolical plot?
Who will have the next nightmare?
What is Bakjak's evil scheme?
Find out next time in...The Great VSP/WASTE Saga: Part III!!
Tarun had retired to his quarters, not wanting to get involved in the business of the brain guys working on the patch. So alone he sat in his quarters, meditating.
"I cannot focus." He snarled as he opened his eyes, sensing something wrong, but not quite knowing what it was. He sighed and stood up and walked over to his desk and sat, punched a few buttons on the console and sat there, gazing upon the image of his beloved Aklan, wondering when he'd see her again and where she was.
"Tarun." a voice said over the comm.
"Yes?" he replied a tad annoyed.
"Would you come down to the hanger for a moment? There's something I want you to see." said the tech.
"Alright." growled Tarun. He stood, shut down the console, and stomped out of his quarters to the hanger, growling under his breath.
"What do you want?" he demanded somewhat angrily.
"To show you this..." the tech calmly replied as he stepped aside, a Scout behind him unlike any Tarun had ever seen. "Tarun, this is Havoc Wreaker. A specially modified Scout. It has detection capabilities, the standard armaments of every Scout, and enhanced speed."
Tarun just looked at it for several moments, this new information not sinking in.
Why is Tarun standing there?
When will he learn what has become of his beloved Aklan?
When will these blasted questions we all know the answers to end?
Find out next time in the great VSP/WASTE Saga Part III!!!
Vank Tar did a final check on his Wraith. It was a beauty. The firing rate of the Gemeni Missiles had been doubled and effectiveness of the Wraith's burst lasers was greatly improved. The armor was a lot heavier but it maintained its speed and was even more agile. The cloaking device could last twice as long.
Vank gave the order to depart and eased the fighter out of the launch bay. He then felt a little strange. He smelled the air and realized he was being gassed. He quickly turned the fighter around and moved back toward the hangar. With all that was left of his will he safely landed the jet. He reached for the lever that would pop the cockpit...
"What?" TGF screamed, "Why didn't he die instantly! Why is he coming back with a report of sabotage?!"
"Have faith sir," the Ensign he had assigned the task said, "Observe."
Vank sluggishly landed his Wraith, the camera zoomed in and TGF was able to see Vank attempt to get to the cockpit lever. Then he slumped and fell back into his chair.
"He is dead sir," the Ensign said, "I thought you might want the fighter back so I administered a rather slow acting poison."
"Very good Ensign," TGF said with pride, "Your new rank is lieutenant. Congratulations Lieutenant... what was your name again?"
"Makgraf sire," the Ensign said.
"Ah," TGF remembered the one who dropped by #Antioch every so often. He could make a reliable officer, "Confine all 'Banned Ones' to their quarters, if any resist, have them shot. We'll have no more of their incompetence."
"Of course sire," Makgraf replied, "The leader of the Advanced Wraith Squadron reports that the pirates have been neutralized. We also captured their leader. Goes by the name of 'Bakjak'."
TGF raised an eyebrow. "Bring him to me. Be sure to properly sedate him first."
Makgraf nodded and returned to his station.
How will Vank's body be disposed of?
What fate lies in store for Bakjak?
What exactly is TGF going to do at Antioch HQ?
Blah Blah Blah, VSP/WASTE Saga next time.
It was a cold and blustery day. The wind blew the drizzle into Fenrir's face. He was standing outside "taking the first watch" even though it was obvious they were perfectly safe at Auspex Studios HQ. Leaning against the wall, he casually looked skyward. Nothing there. He scanned around. Nothing there either. Anxiously, he checked below him, just to make sure. Nothing there either.
This day was going to suck.
Checking his watch, he realized it was just before lunchtime, which meant there were still a few hours until the bad guys had to call it day. With that in my mind, he decided to take a nap so as to give them ample opportunity to sneak up on him.
His dreams were filled with happy things. Candy canes and ginger bread men ran through fields of sugar. Suddenly, The Voice sounded in his mind "Awaken my son, we are in great danger!"
Fenrir awoke to find see a huge carrier descending towards Auspex Studios HQ...
Once Deos had finished relaying his story to Seawolf, he sat back in the chair he had commandeered and waited while Seawolf digested the information. He studied the man he had come here to share his secret with, and found him to be a vastly different man in person.
Up close it was obvious that Seawolf had a commanding presence, which wasn't as noticeable from the far distances Does had observed him from before. Even now, looking tired and worn out, Seawolf still had an air of nobility around him, an aura that radiated confidence and ability. Despite himself, Deos was suitably impressed with the unofficial leader of WASTE. Though he didn't hold the actual title, Seawolf was truly a powerful figure that most everyone in WASTE looked to for guidance.
“So, what you're saying is that you're Mark's assistant, helping him to keep track of the story, am I right?” Seawolf suddenly spoke up, snapping Deos out of his silent reverie. Deos nodded slowly and replied “Yes, I serve in that capacity for him, but more than that I'm also here to help you guys out as much as possible without endangering the plot. Above all else it is my duty only to give guidance and limited assistance, I cannot directly involve myself in the story because it would create massive plot contrivances I'm not sure even Mark Brown could stop.”
“So basically you can't help us out in a jam.” Seawolf smiled bitterly.
“Look, I'd love to be in the thick of things with you guys, duking it out with your enemies and being a hero like all the rest, but I have a duty to the Saga as a whole. You above all else should understand the importance of duty to a higher cause. Would YOU willingly sacrifice the entire Antioch universe, even for a friend?” Deos knew it was a low blow, but he had to drive this point home.
Seawolf's smile immediately froze, and his countenance darkened considerably. Quickly rising to his feet, he stepped over to the window to peer out at Auspex Studios, home to the legendary TAC team, and the genesis site for the wonderful Antioch Universe. “No, no I wouldn't.” Much as it galled him to admit it, even to himself, Deos did have a point. If he thought that his actions would endanger the TAC project, he would never proceed, not even for as good a friend as Mason Wheeler. There were loyalties higher than friendship at stake here, and an ever present duty to do the right thing for the overall good. As Spock once said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...Or the one.”
Deos suddenly cocked his head, as if listening to a voice only he could hear, “Look, my time here is almost up. Doing this crossover from the Real World to yours is very taxing, and I must depart now. But consider what I've told you so far. I will return soon Seawolf, I can promise you that.” With that, Deos' form began to shimmer in the air, until he faded from view completely.
Seawolf turned back to face the spot where Deos had been, looking at the now empty chair and mulling over what had been said. Perhaps he had needed a reminder of his sacred duty, maybe he was letting his friendship to Mason cloud his thinking. Regardless, this conversation had been a real wake-up call for him. He nodded once and softly spoke, 'Yes, we all have a duty to perform, I just hope I can fulfill mine with honor.'
Having said that, he prepared to face Auspex and the TAC staff and complete the task set before him.
Back in the Real World
Deos slumped back in his chair, his entire body shaking from exhaustion. When a shadow crossed his monitor, and a hand landed gently on his shoulder, he looked up to see Mark Brown staring down at him with a gentle smile.
“So how did it go, Deos? Was it all that you hoped for?”
Deos shook his head slowly, trying to gather the fragments of his mind together to form a coherent reply, finally he managed, “It was more and less than I expected. Seawolf is a strong and capable person. I just hope I was able to convince him of the necessity of my limited involvement, and of his duty to the Antioch Universe and the Saga.”
Mark Brown shook his head sadly, “Yes, he is still aching from MilkDuds’ death, and this new problem with Jenni and Mason Wheeler is tearing at his soul. But as the narrator, I cannot interfere with the plot. Much as it pains me, he must resolve these issues himself, and learn from them. We are not allowed to directly affect the Saga, lest we bring about terrible destruction of all that we hold dear.”
“I know, but it is still hard. He suffers so, as do all the rest. One can only hope they are up to this task, it is a far greater one than they have ever faced before.”
Mark Brown nodded, “We can only hope Deos. We can only hope.”
Will Seawolf be forced to choose between the TAC Universe and Mason?
Will Deos have to choose between the story he loves and the people he admires?
Will the VSP and WASTE be up to their latest challenge?
And can the writing get any more pretentious?
Find out in the next installment of...the VSP/WASTE Saga III!
Dark_T_Zeratul was feeling dizzy. After ducking through the portal made by the Warpsphere, he had found himself caught within a small gravity well. After being spun around several times (not to mention the constant vomiting), he was flung into some odd direction and was engulfed in darkness (not like he hadn't been engulfed in darkness since he entered the patch). After spinning through the darkness of the patch a few more times, he blacked out.
In his dreams he saw a face, one that he hadn't seen for a long time. It spoke.
"Dark_T_Zeratul... can you hear me?... Zeratul... can you hear me?... I can sense your presence here, Dark One... I know that you are here... do you remember me, Dark One?... Very well... Dark One... I will bring you to me... Khas Nere A'Tat!"
Suddenly Dark_T_Zeratul's eyes burst open. He felt a surge of incredible heat, and a bright tear opened in the patch, not unlike the opening of the Warpsphere. He felt an intense burning feeling within him, and was drawn uncontrollably into the hole. Within it was a unique being, one whom he had killed long ago... A Protoss being of incredible energy... The DualArchon!!
“Deploy all fighters,” TGF commanded.
“Aye, sir,” Lt. Makgraf said. “Deploying now.”
TGF smiled. He didn’t need anyone, save the handful of officers he had with him now on the bridge. The ships he had in the hangar were all automated, save the doomed wraiths that were providing cover for their mothership. He had no further use for the Banned Ones...except, perhaps, the two females he still had waiting back at HQ.
TGF found himself wondering why he had ever saved TELE in the first place. He, Vank, and now Jamz Bond were little more than hired guns. Vank had been the only one with any real promise that he had seen, but TGF had never liked the little puke, nor TELE and Bond. They were no longer needed.
He smiled again as they approached Auspex Studios.
“Release the RoboZerg,” he ordered.
Makgraf complied, and a number of pods were ejected from the Nemesis’ hangar bay. Each carried anywhere from two to a half-dozen RoboZerg of various breeds, ranging from the tiny zerglings up to the massive ultralisks. They, like the fighters now deploying, were fully automated, but no less effective then their biological counterparts.
TGF watched with delight as his forces rushed at the station, realizing for the first time that this could be much more than the softening attack he had originally intended.
He was so occupied watching the upcoming battle that he never noticed that Vank Tar was no longer slumped in his wraith. He was, in fact, nowhere to be seen.
“Bridge to Seawolf, bridge to Seawolf!”
Seawolf crossed the room in three steps, slapping the comm to life. “Seawolf here. Report, Ixxie!”
“Auspex Studios is under attack, boss! I don’t know who it is or where they came from, but we’ve got a carrier, a good number of fighters, and get this...Zerg!”
“Take off, NOW!”
“Yessir,” Ixyon replied, but Seawolf didn’t hear. He was already on his way to the bridge.
“Uh-oh,” Zeus said. He had been monitoring the base’s scanners while the others watched Zeratul entering the Warpsphere.
“I don’t like the sound of THAT,” Auspex turned to him. “What?!”
“We’ve got all kinds of stuff inbound, none of it friendly. A carrier, fighters, Zerg...jeez!”
Auspex and the others came over to see, and their mouths dropped. The enemies were so close that they could be seen outside the window.
“Deploy OUR fighters to deal with theirs!” Auspex shouted as he retrieved his C-10, the specially customized one that MilkDuds had given him.
“And where are you going?”
“To deal with those Zerg. Guys,” he said to the others—Ytse-Jam, Desler, Phoenix, and Pure Orange—“Come on!”
“What about Zeratul?” Desler asked, grabbing his Gauss Rifle.
“He’s on his own for the moment,” Auspex shouted over his shoulder as he ran out the door.
In the bridge of the Hyperion, Ixyon was clumsily trying to lift off, something he had never done before.
One by one, the other members of WASTE ran in, roused by Lucainan’s frantic calls to their rooms.
All except one....
In the hangar, Tarun was climbing into the Havoc Wreaker. He knew now what was going on outside—heck, he could SEE the battle starting outside the hangar entrance—and knew that the Good Guys were gonna need every ship they could get.
“Sir!” The tech that had shown him the ship rushed over. “You’re not authorized to fly this yet! It hasn’t been tested! Please, come back ou....”
The rest of his words were drowned out as the scout’s engines came to life.
Finally, Seawolf arrived on the bridge. All of WASTE was already there except for Tarun and Zeratul...he’d have to worry about where they were later.
The ship was still on the ground. He saw Ixyon fiddling around at the conn, trying to get the massive vessel to lift off. Seawolf ran over. “May I?” he asked politely but urgently. Ixyon surrendered the chair immediately, sweating profusely.
Seawolf punched in a few buttons, and then slowly pulled back on one of the switches.
The Hyperion lifted off.
“Mat!” he shouted. “Phoenix ain’t here, so you handle weapons. Ixxie, you monitor shield status.”
Mat-Def and Ixyon rushed to their respective stations while the other WASTErs looked on.
The Havoc Wreaker blasted out of the hangar bay of the Hyperion, which would have looked quite cool to anyone observing since the larger ship was also in flight. But since no one was observing....
Seawolf watched as a scout came up alongside him. He recognized it...the Havoc Wreaker. ‘What the...?’
“Havoc Wreaker reporting in,” a voice came over the intercom. “This is Tarun.”
Seawolf didn’t understand why or how Tarun had gotten into that ship, but he also realized it didn’t matter much. He shook his head clear.
“Glad to see you. I notice that Auspex and the others are fighting some Zerg down there, and seem to be okay for the moment. But the enemy is dominating in the air. Shall we?”
Tarun nodded in his cockpit, looking over and giving Seawolf a thumbs-up.
The two ships rocketed forward, shields charged and weapons at the ready.
The Battle of Auspex Studios had officially begun.
Will the Good Guys be able to repel the invading force?
What will happen to Bakjak and the Banned Ones, now being held by a power-hungry TGF?
What has become of Vank Tar, and how did he survive that gas?
And what’s going on in Vancouver all this time?
Find out next time in...The Great VSP/WASTE Saga: Part III!!
‘Morons’, Bakjak thought. The Pirates had not masked their signatures and remained as Death's Legion ships. TGF had made a rather surprising attack and he had been unable to cloak in time to escape. Although he remembered only hiring 15 or so Pirate pilots, he wondered if the Pirate's distress call had been sent out. If it had been, then the "Barker" Battlecruiser and a few support craft, mainly wraiths, would be coming to aid their brethren. It took him several minutes to think of these thoughts, mainly because his mind was wandering. Two men were walking behind him escorting him to the bridge, one armed with a electric prod and the other a Marine's rifle. "Hey, your #$% is mine when I get out... j00 hear meee...?" staggered a drugged Bakjak.
"Shut up," replied the man behind him. Bakjak laughed maniacally, and the fire returned to his eyes. The same maniacal and fiery look in his eyes before entering Broker's base so long ago. The Staff of Magius could never be destroyed, it always appeared back to its user. The smooth staff felt cool against his chained hands. He was still too weak to use the staff and was biding his time until the Pirates sent in some reinforcements. That was his time to strike at these two fools behind him. Bakjak heaved over and threw up.
The battle had begun, the stage was set. The unstoppable combo of Auspex and Ytse-Jam themselves had dashed to the perimeter of the Auspex Studios complex, eradicating any Zerg that came close to ruining the paint. Zeus stayed behind in Headquarters, activating the perimeter defense cannons. Since there weren't enough gunners to go around, most of them were controlled by the Master computer, which was also managing the defensive turrets designed to repel most ground attacks.
The air battle was another matter. Completely. Period. And another one after that.
The Hyperion's slow ascent wasn't going very well, considering that its thick armor was being heavily saturated by glave worms, both stray and intended. With only one capital ship and the Hyperion's few fighters, the battle looked seriously grim. Not just 'grim' like all the other air battles have been, but like impossible, almost. There were far too many mutalisks to even be tracked on the Hyperion's scanners. The Havoc Wreaker and a few other fighters were attempting to hold their own against the tides of Zerg, but Tarun's escorts were being blown out of the sky in a matter of seconds. Things looked incredibly grim.
That is, until several brilliant streaks of bright blue flew past the Havoc Wreaker and killed off half a dozen mutalisks.
"I saw you needed some love, Tarun," said Zeus over the Good Guy comm channel. Tarun breathed a huge sigh of relief. The perimeter defense cannons had joined the battle.
Seawolf had his hands full trying to ascend the Hyperion to a height where it could participate in the battle, but was having serious problems. Dozens and dozens of glave worms were caught onto the Hyperion's hull, and there were several system failures.
"Ixyon, how are the shields doing?" asked Seawolf, almost in desperation.
"They're almost gone, Seawolf," said Ixyon, "Just a few-"
Ixyon was interrupted as something huge crashed into the Hyperion, knocking him out of his chair and hitting his head onto his console, knocking him unconscious.
"Damn!" cursed Seawolf, "I wish Phoenix were here now. Somebody get him into the med bay!"
Mat-Def yelled out, "Seawolf! There're four or five devourers hot on our tail! They're going to intercept us before we can get to a good height to even fire a Yamato!"
"Not on my watch!" yelled Seawolf, "This ship is dying with me! And I'm willing to take my chances with that Yamato!"
Back inside Auspex Studios, Zeus frantically ran from console to console, practically running the battle, directing interceptors from skirmish to skirmish. The air battle was going horribly...almost all of the fighters were destroyed and the Hyperion- ‘Wait! The Hyperion is almost gone!’ thought Zeus. He quickly ran to the cannons command console and ordered them to aim in that direction. If he could just...
Seawolf himself was at the weaponry console, charging the Yamato at that very moment. The devourers were almost in range, and there were even more mutalisks bearing up on them on the other flank. Surprisingly, the Nemesis was staying away from the majority of the battle, but was approaching the Hyperion very steadily. He would have to think about that later. If he had a chance.
"Seawolf, I think we're done! We don't have a fighting chance!" despaired Mat-Def.
"Chances or none," replied Seawolf, "I'm going down with my ship!"
It was a strange moment, then. The sparks and burns all over the bridge were strangely far away, and the red alert lights cast an eerie glow on the whole scene. Seawolf and Mat-Def's eyes met, and there was an odd understanding between the two of them that no one else could see. They both knew what they had to do.
"I'll go talk to the rest of the crew," said Mat-Def, quietly. He and the others walked away from the bridge. Seconds later, Seawolf could hear the sound of the escape pods leaving the Hyperion, flying down to Auspex Studios below. Seawolf sat there in consolation, reflecting, even as devourers and mutalisks bore down on his flank and were about to destroy him and his beloved ship. The Hyperion.
The scene was broken as Seawolf came to his senses. The Yamato was finally charged. He looked at the battle. There were no fighters left. Just the Hyperion. Seawolf hoped that Tarun had ejected out of the Havoc Wreaker, wherever he was. He targeted the Yamato at the Nemesis, now extremely close. In fact, unnaturally close. What was going on?
Onboard the Nemesis, TGF looked at the battle. ‘It is going magnificently’, he thought.
All of the sudden, an officer ran up to him.
"Sir!" he yelled, "The Banned Ones are gone! Disappeared! We can't find them ANYWHERE!"
"Damn!" cursed TGF, "But all is well, for I shall soon have my target. My goal. My objective. My NEMESIS!"
The Banned Ones (including Vank Tar, who was still unconscious) appeared before a dark figure, in a strange land.
"Welcome," said the figure, dressed in all black (as typical with good movies). "Welcome to the Land of the Banned!"
A whole lot of scourges flew in at the Hyperion, throwing themselves at the engines and exploding, dealing massive amounts of damage.
As Seawolf realized that this was, indeed, the end, a strange blue light filled the room. Four dark figures walked up to him, and before Seawolf could do anything, they grabbed and collared him. Seconds later, he was strangely warped out of the Hyperion into a cold, dark room.
"Welcome," said TGF, "Welcome to...the Nemesis. Named after our relation, in fact. You will spend countless days and nights in that room, cold and dark, no food or drink. If a single light comes into that room, you will be instantly killed. I have control over you. You are being constantly watched. You are...MINE!"
Outside, the Hyperion exploded in a brilliant flash.
Dark_T_Zeratul was slowly being drawn towards the Archon. As the immense being loomed larger, he saw it's face. It was twisted into a sinister scowl. A faint sound, much like laughter, emanated from it. The reverberations of energy seemed to form words. "Die... die... DIE!!!" Dark_T_Zeratul knew that he was no match for this being. When he had destroyed him before, he was lucky. In fact, he had almost died. The only thing that had saved him was a single, fatal error made by the Archon. That mistake had cost it its life, and it was unlikely to do it again. And in his weakened condition, he was even less likely to survive. Zeratul closed his eyes, and prepared for the end.
TGF had a broad smile on his face. He had Seawolf as a prisoner and Bakjak was being brought up to him in chains. The smile faded though as a Yamato Cannon blast impacted the shields of the Nemesis. He cursed himself for sending all his Zerg air units to attack Antioch HQ. He calculated that he still had enough defense onboard to neutralize the threat. No Banned Ones were onboard which was curious, but only a minor nuisance. He walked up to a console and scanned all surrounding ships in the area. One of the ships was called the Barker, a battlecruiser. The other ships accompanying it were wraiths. All were identified as Death's Legion ships.
A blast rocked the ship, causing the two men behind Bakjak to stumble off balance. The staff quickly came out of Bakjak's sleeve like magic. He then swiped at the both of them, knocking them out cold. Even though the staff always returned to its user intact, its power was fleeting.
The maniacal look in his eyes vanished. Bakjak searched the unconscious bodies, procured a key, and unlocked the chains about his wrists. He then found the nearest computer console and hacked it. Bakjak's assumption was correct, Death's Legion had sent reinforcements. Bakjak then saw another file entitled ‘Seawolf’. Curious, he opened it...
Tarun awoke with a groan, blood running down his face from a large gash across his forehead. He looked around and did his best to get out of the mangled scout. He collapsed to the ground, losing consciousness, his mind drifting.
"...Tarun....", he heard a distant yet familiar voice say.
"Wh- who's there? Who are you?" he asked, trying to hide his fear.
"It's me...Aklan." the voice said.
"...Aklan?" Tarun said, almost unable to say anything.
"Yes, it's me," she said.
"Where are you? Why can't I find you?" he asked quickly.
She chuckled, and the sound shook Tarun to his core.
"Why my dear...I'm afraid that you and I are caught up in something bigger than the VSP and WASTE and TAC and everything," she said. Her voice had changed, becoming menacing.
"A...Aklan...wh- what's happened to you?" Tarun asked, scared to death that he may have lost his love.
She chuckled again and faded out as he regained consciousness. He looked around and quickly stood. He turned and saw the smoking hulk of the Hyperion and fell to his knees. Tarun roared as an uncontrollable rage filled him. He forced it down, realizing the he was in command of WASTE now. Tarun stood slowly, walked over to the battered Havoc Wreaker, and salvaged the comm equipment.
"*static*me in, this i*static*run, anb*static*dy read me?"
What does Tarun's vision mean?
Will he be reunited with his comrades?
What will become of Seawolf?
This and more in, The Great VSP/WASTE Saga Part III!!!
Meanwhile, Bakjak opened the file that said ‘Seawolf’. What he found was shocking...
SECOND-IN-COMMAND OF WASTE
Bakjak scratched his head. That was it? That was the file? Wait, there was more...
HA! YOU OPENED THIS THINKING YOU COULD FIND SEAWOLF, DIDN'T YOU? FOOL! HE IS MINE! MINE FOREVER!
IN A TOTALLY NON ROMANTIC WAY.
P.S. YOU WILL SOON BE RE-CAPTURED, TARUN.
"Umm... I'm not Tarun." Bakjak said.
"So you aren't... MR. BOND!" said a voice from behind him. He spun around and saw TGF with five armed guards.
"Sorry, but I thought that Tarun would be the first to try to rescue Seawolf. Heh heh... silly me. Anyways, our long associate, my most visceral enemy, my most-"
"Yeah, yeah," said Bakjak, "I read that too. Now you're going to suck out my bones, huh?"
"Nope," said TGF. "I'm going to kill you!"
Bakjak ran like hell.
"Damn! He's a clever one..." said TGF. His guards gave chase, but Bakjak closed the door on them. The guards stopped and turned back to TGF in despair.
"You fools! OPEN THE DOOR!" said TGF angrily.
Meanwhile, Bakjak had reached the rear hanger bay of the Nemesis. He was standing on a catwalk. Below were several small ships, including some corsairs.
"Fool! I have found you again!" Bakjak turned around and beheld TGF.
"The hell? Why are you always standing behind me? And stop calling me FOOL!" Bakjak griped. TGF laughed, whipped out a machine gun, and opened fire. Bakjak flipped and dodged faster then light, and the bullets slowed until it looked like they were moving through thick molasses. Bakjak laughed and jumped over the side of the catwalk into the corsair below. He hit the engines, closed the cockpit, and blasted out into space at breakneck speed.
Bakjak suddenly picked up three scouts giving chase. His corsair was no match for them. His only advantage was attack speed...his only hope....
Quickly, Bakjak hit the retros. The corsair crashed to a stop and Bakjak was thrown forward. The scouts went flying past him faster than sound. Bakjak hit the turbos, and was now directly behind the scouts. He opened fire with all weapons, brutally shredding the aft engines of one of the scouts. It exploded in blue flame.
Bakjak pulled up and lessened speed to keep control. He flipped down again and shot past the scouts at maximum speed. The scouts spun around and gave chase. Bakjak blasted planetward, laughing evilly. His corsair had the advantage- he was FAR more maneuverable then a scout any day.
As his ship got closer to the atmosphere, he nosed down. The scouts, in movie fashion, followed stupidly. At his current trajectory, Bakjak was three seconds away from burning up in the atmosphere. 2 seconds. 1 second.
Bakjak pulled the flight stick up with a jerk, adjusting his trajectory perfectly. His ship sailed through the atmosphere unharmed, but the two scouts plowed right into it, exploding into blue flames with a sound like a million thunder claps. Bakjak grinned and sailed planetward.
He could never work with TGF again. That meant he'd have to help the Good Guys.
Tarun looked up at the sound and saw twin explosions of blue. A single corsair was heading planetward. The corsair suddenly turned, honed in on Tarun, and sped right at him. Tarun thought this might be the end.
But suddenly the corsair slowed and came to a stop just above him. The cockpit opened, and Bakjak looked down at him.
"Bakjak? Come to fight?" Tarun said, switching on his psi-blades.
"Nope," said Bakjak, "For reasons I don't want to explain to you, I am no longer affiliated with the Banned Ones or TGF. So, I have to help you...need a lift?"
Tarun stared, considering...
Will Tarun go with Bakjak?
Has Bakjak really turned into a Good Guy?
With no chance of escape, how long can Seawolf last?
This and more, in th- you know. :)
Bakjak jumped out of the corsair and stood face to face with Tarun. He was assessing the situation, and from the looks of it, Tarun did not trust him. Bakjak still had to get the Magius back, which he put on autopilot when it had been starting to take a significant amount of damage. He had hit the eject button and had been caught by TGF.
"I see you are in need of a ride...how about I give you this corsair?" he asked.
Tarun's eyes narrowed, "Fine, but I still don't trust you."
"I see you are a man of intelligence. Once a traitor, always a traitor, huh?" Bakjak mocked. He waved his hand in dismissal and started walking off in the direction of the Magius.
Tarun looked up at the corsair and hesitantly jumped aboard and started flying back to Antioch HQ.
Flyspeck stared sadly out the window of his escape pod as the Hyperion exploded in a gigantic fireball.
“She was a good ship,” he said to himself quietly, “and Seawolf was a good man, but now isn’t the time for mourning. I have to keep myself alive. I just hope the others got out okay.”
Glancing out the window again, he looked for other escape pods. The window was rather narrow and he couldn’t see much except the hordes of RoboZerg, which were now beginning to return to the Nemesis, the battle over.
Flyspeck turned his attention inward. The escape pod was spartan, but it did have a small console through which he could access sensors, communications, and flight systems. He sent out a distress signal to all Alliance channels and tried to determine where his pod would be landing. It seemed he would be coming down somewhere in the middle of Nevada.
Great, thought Flyspeck. He’d have to survive on his wits, cunning, outdoors knowledge, and the C-10 Rifle and bags of pretzels he’d thought to take from his quarters before escaping the Hyperion.
Flyspeck sat back in the padded gee couch and waited for his pod to touch down. When it did, he climbed out of it into the middle of the desert. He set about on his trek back to Auspex Studios. After getting a tour of Area 51 and having many various exciting adventures in which he barely escaped with his life (which were left out to save room), he arrived in some no-name town with a population of about 50 people, but for plot’s sake it had a bus depot. Having no money, he threatened to kill the bus driving unless he took him to North Carolina.
Sometime later, after having munching on pretzels with the bus all to himself, Flyspeck hopped out in front of Auspex Studios, and prepared himself to tell the TAC and whatever survivors of the Hyperion there might be the sad news.
Will the grief-stricken TAC team and WASTE survivors be bent on revenge?
Why has Bakjak decided to abandon his evil ways?
What the hell happened to the VSP?
Why did Flyspeck make this stupid addition anyway?
Find out next time in...The Great VSP/WASTE Saga Part III!