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 6.”
The Great VSP Saga:
Revenge of the Good Guys
So close, and yet so far! AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Mason had almost got his message to Mack Kilimaro, when a Battlecruiser hovered into view and started firing at him. He quickly Rebooted into a Ghost and locked it down, but it was too late. His concentration was broken. Nor could he tell Mack the rest of the plan. Trying to communicate across realities was difficult. Once it was started, it was simple to maintain, but it took a great effort of will to create the communication in the first place. It would be at least an eighth of a Second before Mason could try again, and he had no idea how long that would be in the Real World.
The time differential in a computerized reality was something Mason had still not figured out yet. Due to the high processing speed of computers, subjective time was extremely slow inside. a Nanosecond was like half an hour to Mason. But when a Game was dropped, time obviously sped up inside of it to match the speed of the User. One would think that this would mean that even the shortest of Games would last a near-eternity to an outside observer, but it seemed as if subjective time elapsed was the same for people inside and outside of Games. If Webrunner knew about this, he would surely find some way to satirize it in a comic strip. All Mason knew was that, according to his watch, he had been inside the Antioch Universe for three months. He had no idea how much time had transpired in the Real World.
The worst part about it was, Broker had prepared for a tactic such as what Mason had just done. That could only mean one thing: he was planning on it. He had guessed what Mason was going to do, and Mason was about to go do it anyway. Only three types of people walk willingly into what they know is a trap. The extremely brave, the extremely foolish, and those who know that they have no other choice. Mason wasn't sure which category he belonged in. Probably a bit of each, but he was going to do it.
He just hoped his skills and his Common Foe Patch were up to the task, and that Mark Brown would be watching over him.
Auspex was quickly realizing that the task was not as easy as it had seemed at first. He and Desler had been working on the "Hyperion's Revenge" patch for several hours now, and they were getting nowhere fast. First of all, they didn't have the schematics of the enhanced Hyperion that Seawolf had made and had to improvise from memory. They had tried several explosions, but none had worked. Each time, they remembered a new factor they had forgotten and modified the test. Finally, they got it all right and were able to open a small Crossover portal hole, but that had not helped much. Phoenix must have been in exactly the right place at exactly the right time; the hole became unstable and vanished within two seconds. They had no way of creating a stable portal, and more importantly, they had no way to direct which realm it would Cross to. It was a start, but that was all it was.
For some reason, Mack Kilimaro had not relayed Mason's message to Auspex before leaving for VSP HQ. Perhaps he intended to play Antioch himself once they reached it, but the net result was that Auspex and Desler did not have a working Crossover yet, when they could have by now. So all they could do was run their semi-working Hyperion's Revenge patch over and over and try to analyze what was happening, how the explosions were opening the Crossover, and how to duplicate it (and with any luck, to control it.)
The first thing Mat-Def did was power up his Mad Cat and make sure everything was working properly. It was.
Everyone else, however, seemed more interested in getting ready for the confrontation. Most of them either laid down in their quarters to rest and regain their sense of balance, or headed off to various areas to get resupplies of their various specialized weapons.
Codebreaker, however, had something else on his mind. For three months, he had been trying to break into Mason's computer files on the DragonSlayer, to see if he could find any clues to the workings of the Crossover. He decided to have one more go at it.
Mason had reached the outer perimeter of Broker's fortress. This was as close as he could get without anyone noticing him. He couldn't go any further—even as a Ghost, due to the detectors all around—so he needed a different plan. This was the Antioch Universe; he wasn't sure if technology from other SC campaigns would work here, and he hated to give up the element of surprise, but he saw no other way. He would simply have to "make an entrance." Concentrating hard, Mason tapped twice at his Patch and said the magic word.
Codebreaker sat down at the main computer terminal on the bridge of the DragonSlayer and began to type. He was trying a new approach to breaking Mason's code this time, and he was concentrating so hard on what he was doing that he didn't notice what was going on around him.
Mat-Def did, though.
He had finished performing system checks on his Mad Cat and was right about to dismount when he saw something strange happening. A rift was forming around the DragonSlayer. He had seen it a couple times; this was undoubtedly a Crossover rift. It opened, the 'Slayer was pulled in, and it closed again too fast for Mat to react.
He quickly got out of his Mad Cat and walked to the intercom panel on the wall. He hit the button for stationwide transmission. "Hey everyone, the DragonSlayer just vanished into a Crossover Rift. You'd better come down here."
It worked! Mason found himself on the bridge of the DragonSlayer. Like the Staff of Magius, the DragonSlayer was never truly destroyed, always returning to its owner when summoned. The others hadn't understood. After the first battle with Broker, they had taken to calling the ship the DragonSlayer II. But Mason had never used that name. The minute the original had lost its spaceworthiness, the dead hulk had ceased to be the DragonSlayer. There were never two. Fascinating as this may be, it meant one thing had gone horribly wrong.
Mason heard tapping behind him. That sound was unmistakable; it was a keyboard being typed upon. But why was there typing where no typing should be? Mason's heart sank as he turned around, one of Guardian Bob's trademark lines going through his head. "This is bad! VERY bad!"
Codebreaker sat at the main computer terminal, seemingly oblivious to everything that had happened. Mason walked right up behind him and still CB noticed nothing. He was trying to hack into Mason's files again. Would he NEVER learn that nobody could defeat Mason's encryption?!?
Mason decided to get it over with. "How many times do I have to tell you that you can't break *my* code CB?"
In typical cartoon fashion, CB jumped 3 feet in the air (quite a feat, as he was sitting down) and his eyes bugged out. He turned around. "Mason?!?"
"In the flesh. Or whatever it is we have here."
"I don't quite know how to tell you this, but, if I'm trapped in the Antioch universe, and you're here with me..."
Mason waited for a minute as the realization sunk in. "I'M TRAPPED TOO?!?!?"
"Sorry, man. I needed the DragonSlayer. I didn't think anyone would be in it. And now you're here too. You're Canadian; ever watch Reboot?"
"Yeah. I love that show! Why?"
"Because that's what the Antioch Universe it like. I dunno how they got it so close, but they did. Maybe they have a Crossover too. Anyway, here we are. Boy, this feels like deja vu. You and me in the DragonSlayer, about to attack Broker's fortress. Lambda and Zeratul wouldn't happen to be here, would they?"
"Waitwaitwaitholdon...attack Broker's fortress?!"
"Yeah. He has some limited Crossover technology. If I can get at it, I can use it to send a message to the Real World to tell Auspex how to recreate the Crossover."
"Then why did you order us to destroy the Crossover discs?"
"To keep them from falling into the wrong hands. The plan I'd send Aus would be extremely limited and one-time-only, to get me out and then seal the Crossover forever."
"But can't you make one here? That's why I was hacking your files; I wanted to find your design notes for the Crossover Patch."
"That won't work. It's simple to create a Crossover Portal from the Real World to a Game Universe, but going from a lower realm to a higher one can't be accomplished. All that can be done is observation." A slow smile crossed Mason's face. "But you've just given me an idea." He took out his Zip disk and inserted it into his computer. "Finally. A compatible computer."
CB watched as Mason loaded up the Narrator Tools. "I thought you lost your Narrator powers."
"I did, mostly. But every good computer guy keeps a backup. Not much I can do here; I'd need to be in the Uber-world to create any plot contrivances worth anything, but..." he trailed off as he checked the state of the Plot. "Dude!" he whispered. "And I thought the Plot was fragged when I was still a Narrator! I should never have let Mark Brown win..." He typed away at his keyboard for a while, reading faster than CB could follow. At the end, he stood up and said "Codebreaker, man the Yamato Gun controls. The attack on Broker's HQ proceeds as scheduled."
Soon, almost all of the Good Guys were in the VSP HQ hangar, listening to Mat tell them what he had seen. They didn't know how it could have happened, but one thing was for sure. It had to have something to do with Mason.
Suddenly Lambda Corps noticed that something was wrong. He looked around. "Hey guys, where's CB?"
Broker seemed to be expecting all this; is he prepared to deal with the DragonSlayer?
How will Codebreaker manage in the Antioch Universe?
How will the rest of the Good Guys manage without him?
Will Mack ever tell Auspex to play Antioch again?
Will the Game reach Mason if he does?
Find out this and more on the next exciting episode of The Great VSP/WASTE Saga, Part III!
Dark_T_Zeratul had waited long enough for the DualArchon's body to appear, living or dead. So he stepped up to the flames and checked.
Suddenly the DualArchon leaped up from behind a rather large pile of rubble and blasted Zeratul again, throwing him 500ft down the corridor and through another wall. This time, Zeratul got to his feet inside the Corsair hanger. He was about to get into the Thanatos, his favorite Corsair, and destroy the DualArchon that way, but realized that it was only effective against air. And the DualArchon was very obviously grounded.
Suddenly he had an idea. It was his only chance, for if it failed he would be destroyed. He hid in the Thanatos and waited.
His patience paid off, and the DualArchon blew open the door as usual. He began calling some more. "Come on, Dark One! I don't have time for games! You can't defeat me again! This time I will destroy you! Say, do you hear that? It's the sound of the Reaper!" "Indeed it is, foul, murdering abomination!" yelled Dark_T_Zeratul as he leapt from the Corsair, brandishing the DarkScythe.
The DualArchon never knew what hit them. Zeratul flew through the air, bringing the blade swiftly down through the DualArchon, cutting it straight down the middle. As Zeratul removed Mortis from its victim, the purple being shimmered and began to divide. The spectral body within appeared to be made of putty, slowly pulling apart. Drancil/Kharadun emitted a sound much like a scream, but echoed a thousand times. Then they exploded. Dark_T_Zeratul was thrown back into the Thanatos, and then a bright light enveloped everything. He was falling, falling, down, down, down...
Desler went to the comm unit and turned it on. "Dark_T_Zeratul, do you hear me? We are planning an assault on TGF's Carrier, the Nemesis, and we need your help! Do you hear me? Zeratul, come in dammit, COME IN!" Desler switched off the comm unit angrily as Auspex entered the room. "Dammit, Aus! Why isn't he answering? We've been trying for hours and he still hasn't responded! Can something have happened?"
"I don't know Des," said Auspex. "but I'm getting worried too. I just wish there was someone else who could enter this particular patch..." Auspex trailed off as he set his hand on the Warpsphere. "OUCH! Damn that's hot!" he yelled, stuffing his hand into his mouth. "Is that normal, Aus?" asked Desler. "No, it isn't... In fact it's only hot when something is coming through-" Auspex never got to finish his sentence. He was cut off as a warp hole burst open suddenly in the Warpsphere, expelling a rather large collection of objects that broke through the wall and smashed into the wall of the other room. Before he could see what had come out, a large beam erupted from the disk drive. It appeared as though it was fighting with itself whether to be red or blue. After a few moments it collected into a sphere of the same color(s). It hovered in midair for about half a second before blasting off in two opposite directions with a mighty flash, a red blob of energy flying east and a blue blob of energy flying west. Then the drive sparked and caught fire.
"AAAAHHH! The Patch drive!" screamed Auspex, rushing to put it out. Once he did, he ejected the Dark Patch disk. It was half melted, and parts of it were like charcoal. It was broken beyond repair, and would never be accessed again.
"Oooooooooooh, my head..." groaned a voice from the other room. Auspex and Desler ran in to see what it was.
Against the wall was a slightly beaten up, scorched, highly modified Corsair. The word "Thanatos" was engraved in the side.
And slumped in a heap next to it was Dark_T_Zeratul.
"Uuuuuh...shouldn't have eaten all those burritos..." he said, before passing out.
Back in VSP HQ, the main bulk of the Alliance was in chaos.
With Auspex, Zeratul, Seawolf, and now Codebreaker all gone, they had no real leader amongst them besides Lambda Corps. And though Lambda was co-leader of the VSP, right on the same level as Codebreaker, he was not nearly as assertive as his counterpart...that’s why he always let CB run things. He wasn’t ready to lead the Posse on his own, much less the Posse AND WASTE AND the others.... His head began to spin, both from the thought of leading everyone and from the noise of everyone shouting in near-panic.
Flyspeck, too, was feeling overwhelmed. Zeratul and Seawolf were gone, and they had previously decided that in the unlikely scenario that they were both out of action, Tarun would be in charge of WASTE. But he was gone, too. No one had thought what to do if all three of them were away. Flyspeck had stepped up to take charge, but now he, like Lambda, was quite unsure what the heck to do.
And so Zeus Legion stepped up and slid a chair in front of him as a makeshift podium, something that he knew the Good Guys would all recognize and shut up and listen. They saw it all right, and they quieted down and turned to him.
“Okay, guys,” Zeus said. “Since no one seems to know what to do, I will just have to take the reins myself. So...let’s get down to business. Wherever the DragonSlayer went, I think Codebreaker went too. Why?” he quickly asked before a few hands shot up to ask. “Because CB and I spend some time these past few months picking at the ‘Slayer’s computers between sessions of helping Auspex and Desler with patch-making, hoping to find some hidden info on the Crossover. I bet that Codebreaker was doing the very same thing when the ship was sucked to...wherever it went. Mason undoubtedly is messing with the Crossover on the other side, from the Antioch Universe, so it’s highly likely that the DragonSlayer, and CB, are with him now, or at least SOMEWHERE in Antioch. And as much as I hate to just abandon Codebreaker right now, I don’t see that we have much choice but to hope he’s okay and move on to other matters.”
He paused as the others took that in. After a few moments, one by one, they nodded their agreement. There really WASN’T anything they could do for Codebreaker...at least until they had a working Crossover patch again.
“So,” Zeus continued, “we stick with the original plan...rescue Seawolf. Now hopefully we can reach him before Tarun and Bakjak do...I get the feeling they might bite off more than they can chew if they try to rescue him themselves, which I imagine they’re gonna do. Anyways, we just need to figure out how to find TGF. Any ideas?”
“No, but I have a question,” Jenni said.
“When we do find out where Seawolf is, how are we going to get there? With Mason’s ship gone, the only ship we’ve got is that,” Jenni said, pointing at the PossePlane. “And I, for one, don’t have any desire to ride all cramped in THAT thing again.”
The others began voicing their agreement, and Zeus had to whistle loudly to get their attention again.
“A good question. Now, where can we get another shi....”
“What’s that noise?” Odin interrupted.
“What?” Zeus asked, a little annoyed at being cut off. “I don’t hear anything.”
“No, I hear it too,” Lucainan said.
“So do I,” Spooky agreed.
“Sounds like...” NovaSeaker started.
“...a ship!” Fenrir finished for him.
They all ran outside to see a ship flying towards them. And the ship was very familiar....
“No, it CAN’T be,” Mack said. The other VSPers stared, open-mouthed.
The Millennium Falcon was coming right at them.
“How...where...?” Endarire fumbled.
The Falcon flew right by them and continued on, not even slowing down. As it passed, a small object fell towards them from the bottom of the ship.
“A bomb!” Ytse shouted, throwing himself to the ground.
“No, the Falcon doesn’t HAVE any bombs, silly,” Spooky said.
The object, a small box, landed right in the middle of the group. Zeus walked up and opened the lid. There was a note inside, addressed to the VSP.
Curious, Lambda stepped past him and grabbed the note, reading it aloud to the group.
“Dear Vancouver Street Posse,” he read. “If you want your ship back, meet us at The Rez in exactly one hour. Come alone...your friends are NOT invited. This is personal. We’ll be waiting. Signed....” he trailed off, blanching.
“Signed who?” Nemesis asked.
Lambda blinked hard and continued. “Signed...Little Timmy and Sam.”
The whole Posse gasped.
“Wait a second...WHO?” Phoenix asked.
“They’re two of our biggest and longest-running enemies,” Mack explained. “They’re brothers.”
Lambda checked his watch. “We can just make it there in the PossePlane if we leave now.” He turned to Zeus, finally stepping up to the Posse leadership position. “We’re going. If we can get the Falcon back, we’ll lend it to WASTE and that will solve our ship problem. While we’re gone, think of a way to find TGF and get into that carrier of his and rescue Seadog. We’ll be back soon...I hope.” Zeus gave a brief nod, and Lambda turned to the VSP. “Okay guys, grab your gear. MG, let’s go fire up the Plane.” He got nods all around, and even an occasional salute, and then the Posse members were all packing up and climbing into the PossePlane.
Two minutes later, it was in the air and heading back to Vancouver.
To the ultimate place for fighting. The Rez.
In the Havoc Wreaker, Tarun was giving his systems a final check, preparing for the upcoming strike at the Nemesis.
“Hey Tarun,” Bakjak’s funny distorted voice came over the intercom. “Check your scanners. Up ahead. Sector 836.”
Tarun made a quick scan...and gasped.
The Nemesis was slowly heading for the indicated sector, and right in the middle of that region of space was a floating base. One that was very familiar....
“Looks like TGF found himself a nice home,” Bakjak said. “Too bad you guys didn’t blow it up when you were done there last time.”
Tarun nodded to himself in the Wreaker’s cockpit, too stunned to reply verbally.
The Nemesis was heading right for Broker’s old floating station from the last part of the Saga, where the TAC team and Mason had been held until the Good Guys had rescued them. Broker had abandoned the base, and other than a revisit by the Good Guys when they raided it for gear and tips on opening the Crossover after Mason’s disappearance, it had stayed abandoned all this time.
At least, Tarun had ASSUMED it had. It appeared now that TGF had had other plans, and had found himself quite a nice home indeed.
“We have to get onboard the Nemesis before he reaches that base,” he called out over the intercom. “If we don’t, we may never have a chance. Who knows what defenses he’s got ready for us on that station.”
“Agreed,” Bakjak replied.
And up ahead, the cloaked Magius went to full throttle. Apparently, it was time to put their plan into motion NOW.
Tarun made a quick decision. He transmitted the coordinates for the station down to Auspex Studios. He thought that Bakjak’s plan was sound, and they outta be able to rescue Seawolf on their own. But just in case, he wanted the others to know where they were.
Tarun licked his lips, fired up the Havoc Wreaker’s engines, and followed his ally.
At Auspex Studios, Auspex was thinking about the man called Deos Arcana. He had vanished shortly after he’d introduced himself. When Auspex and the others had gone inside to introduce him to the VSP, he was already gone. Auspex had no way of knowing that Mark Brown had fixed up Deos’s workstation and recalled him from the Saga realm, thankfully in time to save him from completely falling apart, while Mark’s dad fixed up Mark’s fried computer.
Desler returned to the command room, interrupting Auspex’s thoughts.
“How is he?” Auspex asked, looking over from his patch testing as Desler flopped back into a chair beside him.
“He’ll be okay. Got real banged up...looks like he was in a fight or something. But Zeratul’s a strong guy. Give him an hour or two to sleep and he’ll be right back on his feet, blades swinging.”
Auspex grinned. He knew THAT was true.
“What’s this?” Desler asked, hunching over his console.
“We’re getting a transmission. Lesse here....” Desler brought it up on his computer. “Hmmm...weird. Whaddaya make of this?”
Auspex came over and looked at the screen:
Sector XRW-73E-836. Earth orbit.
“Huh,” Auspex said. “Where’s it from?”
“That’s what I was just trying to...ah, here we go.” Desler paused for a long moment, just staring at the screen.
“Well?” Auspex asked, leaning forward to try and see for himself.
“It’s from the Havoc Wreaker, Aus.”
Auspex took in a quick breath. “You think...TGF?”
“Where else would Tarun and Bakjak be, and why else would they send us these coordinates?”
Auspex was already back at his terminal, sending the information to VSP HQ.
Desler did a quick scan of the indicated sector. ‘Whoa,’ he thought. ‘That’s THERE?’ “Hey Auspex, guess what little base from your past is in that area?”
They’d just made it. Lambda’s watch indicated they had two minutes to spare as the PossePlane touched down in The Rez.
In front of it, only about a hundred feet away, was the Falcon. And in front of that was Sam. Timmy was nowhere to be seen.
“Hi there,” Sam said as the VSP climbed out of the Plane and walked forward. He was grinning. “I was wondering if you’d have the guts to show.” He took a quick look at the group. “Where’s Codebreaker?”
“Believe it or not, we don’t know,” Lambda said.
Sam paused for a moment, studying his face, and nodded. “Okay, fine. Then Timmy wants to see YOU in the ship. Head to the main cargo hold...he’s waiting there to play you in some games. Pokemon 64, Starcraft 64, and WWF Smackdown...64, of course. One game of each. Best two out of three gets the ship.”
Lambda gulped. “M-m-me?”
“Well, Timmy wanted Codebreaker, but you’ll have to do. Go on, get in there,” Sam replied menacingly.
Lambda gulped again and entered the Falcon.
“Now,” Sam said, smiling again. “A challenge my little bro doesn’t know about. I challenge one of you guys to a one-on-one fight. Right here. No weapons, no tricks. Just a brawl,” he said, cracking his massive knuckles.
The VSPers looked at each other. “So, that person’ll just put down their weapon and you two will try and kill each other like civilized people?” Odin asked.
“I could kill you now,” Sam said, suddenly pulling out a pistol and pointing it at Odin. “You guys would never fire fast enough to stop me from getting at least one of you.”
The Posse members sighed and huddled together. One of them was going to have to wrestle the brute. The question was, who?!
Who will fight the 400lb, 6’8 Sam, and how the heck will they beat him?
Will Lambda be able to defeat Little Timmy in THAT private gaming battle?
How will Tarun and Bakjak fare against TGF?
What’s happening with Mason and Codebreaker?
Will Rockwell ever make an appearance in this part of the Saga?
Find out next time, in the Great VSP/WASTE Saga: Part III!!
Dark_T_Zeratul opened his eyes, slowly. As his vision became clear, he sat up and looked around. He was in the basement of TAC HQ, on Auspex's couch. He had no idea how long he'd been out. He reached to his side, and found that the DarkScythe was still there. That was good; apparently it had left the patch world as well.
Zeratul got to his feet and went towards the Warpsphere. On the table next to it was the Dark Patch disc. It was charred, melted, burnt, singed, incinerated, and full of holes. It would never work again. Zeratul would never be sure if the DualArchon had survived or not. He groaned inwardly, knowing that he may not have conquered the effigy after all.
"Well, look who's finally up," said a voice behind him. Zeratul swirled around quickly and came face-to-face with Auspex. "Oh, it's you," said Zeratul, in a nonchalant manner. "What happened?"
"You were thrown out of the patch world, along with a Corsair. I guess you've seen the disc. The drive caught fire after you were ejected."
"Did the DualArchon come out of there?" demanded Zeratul.
"Er, I don't think so. But now that you mention it, I DID see something Archon-like. After you were ejected, a large beam came from the drive, through the roof, and into the sky. It was red and blue, like the colors of a Dark and regular Archon mixed together. It separated in the sky, and then the drive caught fire. That's what happened to the disc."
"So they live...apart...interesting... I shall have to find them, and kill them. Only then will I have truly avenged my friends."
"Sounds good, but right now we have a bigger problem. With WASTE and the VSP. And the Banned Ones are involved, too. Do you want the short version or the long version?"
"The long version, please."
"Alright, then." Auspex went to his computer and printed out a copy of the VSP/WASTE Saga Part III, up until the current moment. It was about 60 pages long with really tiny print.
"Actually, I'd rather have the short version," said Dark_T_Zeratul.
"You got it." Auspex took a deep breath. "After you went into the Warpsphere the Banned Ones attacked in their Carrier and they blew up the Hyperion and Seawolf is gone and the VSP are in Vancouver trying to get back the Millennium Falcon which was stolen and Bakjak offered to help us and he and Tarun left to attack the Nemesis which is TGF's Carrier and TGF is the leader of the Banned Ones so he's the guy who attacked us and got Seawolf and the Hyperion and Codebreaker and the DragonSlayer disappeared into the Antioch Universe and now we're all trying to think of a plan... uh!" Auspex passed out.
After a few minutes he got back up. "Sorry, ran out of breath. Well, that's just about everything. Oh yeah, and Bakjak burned Fenrir's paper on dirt so he might have to go home again."
"Don't worry about that," said Dark_T_Zeratul. "I saw something once in a movie called PCU. This guy was handing out different Senior Theses for people who had had their theses deleted from their computer. I'm sure he's got something on dirt. All we have to do is get the Crossover working."
"We've been trying to do that for hours, Zeratul. Well, since you're up you might as well say hello to everyone. They're upstairs."
"Great, I'll do that," said Zeratul, and he went upstairs to rejoin WASTE.
bzzt-bzzt-Bzzt-BZZT-BZWZT-KAVOOM! A huge orange blast shot from the DragonSlayer's Yamato Cannon, vaporizing a missile turret in a tenth of a cycle. Then three things happened at once.
1) Broker's main base control computer sensed a drop in power draw. According to its database, this meant that a missile turret had gone offline. A quick check revealed that no turrets were scheduled to go offline for maintenance anytime within the next five Seconds, so it sent a command to restart. This command returned an error result, which could mean only one thing. The turret was inoperative, most likely destroyed. The computer searched its databank to find what could destroy a missile turret without setting off a perimeter alert. The result set was short and concise:
The destruction of a missile turret by a Yamato blast indicated invasion. The appropriate response to invasion was to set off a base-wide alarm, so the computer did so.
2) Inside the DragonSlayer, Codebreaker pumped his fist in the air. "Got it!"
3) Kurt Broker, monitoring his outer defenses from a separate computer, knew of the turret's destruction before the alarm went off. He smiled in triumph. Everything was going according to plan.
"Good job. They know we're here now, so we just sit back and wait to see what happens next."
"You crazy, Mason!? We should attack now, press our advantage!"
"No we shouldn't. One turret down isn't enough room for us to get through, and until the Y-gun recharges enough to fire again, we can't get through unscathed. Meanwhile, the 'Slayer can handle anything Broker sends after us."
"Like it did last time?"
Mason's eyes flashed. "That was different!" he growled. "Broker cheated! But without the Crossover, he can't summon any more Fenixes. So for right now, we should just sit back and relax. It should be about a sixth of a Nanosecond before Broker's men are ready."
"Uhh... how long is that?"
"About five minutes. Until then, let's just wait here, outside of firing range." Mason opened the arm of his command chair and pulled out a CD. He slid it into a slot on the other arm, and the bridge was filled with country-sounding guitar licks.
"Ugh. What's that?" asked CB.
"'Standing Outside the Fire' by Garth Brooks. I figured it was appropriate." Mason grinned.
Codebreaker groaned as the vocals started. "Do you have to play country?"
Mason laughed. "That's what Rhett said." Before CB could ask, Mason said "He's my best friend. He never liked country all that much until I made him listen to it every time we were together. Once he got over his preconceived notions about my-dog-ran-away-and-my-woman-left-me and started *listening* to it, he ended up liking it. I think you will, too."
CB looked at Mason with a dubious expression on his face, and sat back to endure the music. The song had ended, and Mason changed to another one, a fast-paced guitar-and-fiddle-heavy number about nonconformism. About halfway through the song, several Wraiths launched from a hanger and moved in on the DragonSlayer.
"Is the Yamato Gun charged?" asked Mason over the music.
"Yeah." CB targeted one of the Wraiths, but Mason held up his hand.
"Hit this Missile Turret." Mason indicated a turret on the map, right at the edge of Yamato range. It was nowhere near the first one.
Deciding not to ask the reason for this strange order, CB fired. Sure enough, half the Wraiths moved off towards it. "Why'd that happen?"
"They can't tell where the Y-gun blasts are coming from. If it came from here, we would have hit a turret adjacent to the other one, wouldn't we?"
Comprehension dawned on CB's face. "So therefore, there has to be another cruiser over there, and they're going to check it out."
"Exactly. It's a poor ruse, but it'll buy us just enough time. The other advantage is that *they* have seen no evidence that this is the DragonSlayer, or even a Proto-Cruiser. It looks like a hero BC to them." Mason grinned evilly. "Time to convince them otherwise."
He hit a button and the shields came online. The first of the incoming Wraiths had just come within range of the DragonSlayer's anti-matter missiles, which had much longer range than a normal Scout's missiles. Mason fired. The Wraith barely had time to fire off the first of its Gemini missiles when it disintegrated under the 'Slayer's wrath.
Mason hit another switch and the music's volume was cut to about half as the radio came on. "Hey! That's no Battlecruiser!" they heard a Wraith pilot yell.
"There's nothing over here. It was a trick. Coming around now!"
"Get us some ground support! We need Lockdown!"
"You kidding? That's the DragonSlayer. No Ghost would survive long enough to get in range!"
"OK cut the chatter. Come around, attack pattern 21-Charlie."
Mason smiled. "They don't know I broke their transmission encryption." He switched the radio off and the music came back as loud as before. "Old Noah took much ridicule for building his great Ark, but after 40 days and 40 nights, he was lookin' pretty smart!" Mason's hands seemed to be everywhere as he fired off missiles left and right at the incoming Wraiths.
CB, remembering their last battle with Broker's forces, went to the ammo terminal and made sure that none of the missile feeds jammed. "Why aren't they cloaking?" he asked.
"We caught them by surprise. They haven't had time to charge their reactors." Another missile, and another Wraith exploded. The ship rocked under the impact from a pair of Gemini missiles, but there were only two fighters left. The shields were barely holding, but once they were gone, the DragonSlayer's heavy armor would sustain them as long as they needed.
The music played on. "If you're gonna make a difference, if you're gonna leave your mark, you can't follow like a bunch of shee—" suddenly the DragonSlayer's bridge went dark as electrical systems all over the ship went offline.
Mason turned on an electric lantern. "They locked us down." said Mason. "That's our signal. Quick, get an Icon out of that drawer." CB found one and held it in front of his chest as it turned in a circle and attached itself. "Follow me!"
CB followed Mason to the cargo hold as the ship continued to shake under various impacts. From the sound of it, they had Marines and Goliaths out there now.
"Quick," said Mason, opening the cargo bay doors. "Reboot and then bail out!" They both Rebooted as Ghosts and jumped. CB saw Mason vanish and activated his own cloak. Mason suddenly showed up on his visor. "Follow me!" came his voice over the comm line.
They hit the ground running. The enemies were too caught up in the DragonSlayer's destruction to notice the pair of cloaked figures. Suddenly, the 'Slayer came back to life, dropping its deadly Area Saturation Bombs all over the enemy infantry.
"Hey Mason, how did it come back online that fast?"
"Emergency Protocol 5. If, while the ship is locked down, Mason Wheeler exits, it is to wait for twenty seconds, then auto-restore and engage auto-combat mode."
"A little hack for Restoring Proto-Cruisers, courtesy of yours truly." said Mason.
They had reached the doors to Broker's fortress. "Allow me," said CB. He shot the door open in an explosion of glass, then locked down the alarm system.
"Good job! Now..." Mason hesitated, sensing, then said "this way!"
Will Mason and CB manage to get to Broker's communication equipment?
If so, will they get out alive?
Will the VSP members be able to defeat Sam and Little Timmy?
Will Seawolf get rescued before he goes insane?
Who will be rescued first? Mason or Seawolf?
Find out on the next episode of The Great VSP/WASTE Saga, Part III.
Mason and Codebreaker stepped through the door of Broker's Fortress. Immediately beyond the door was a single room of no importance. Codebreaker hacked into the lock codes for the front door and sealed it with the maximum security locks. The two then searched the entire room and found absolutely NOTHING. No doors, windows, turrets, traps, or anything. The room seemed completely barren. What was worse was that the door's lock panel had been completely fried by CB's hacking. They were stuck. The Mason shouted. "Hey, CB! Look over here, I think I found something!' Codebreaker ran towards Mason, who was in a little niche in the back of the room. Inside was a faint distortion in the time-space fabric. It had a slight blue tinge. "Hey Mason... have you ever played Chrono Trigger?" "No...why?" "Because... I think this is a Time Gate. Got a piece of the Crossover handy? I could really use something from that game." Mason just happened to have a tiny Crossover Palmtop with him. Since the battery had limited power and took forever to charge, it was only to be used in emergencies. Codebreaker turned on the palmtop and activated the Crossover. A small blue rod about 5 inches long appeared out of thin air. Affixed to the top was a six-pointed star pattern of red rods, about an inch long each. Codebreaker picked it up as the palmtop's batteries died. "This... is the Gate Key. It will allow us to open Time Gates," he said. Then he walked over to the distortion and held up the Gate Key. The distortion grew for a few minutes, and then ripped apart into a good-sized hole. "After you," said Codebreaker. Mason dived in, and CB followed suit. They zoomed through the Time Gate for a little while before emerging in what appeared to be the throne room of a medieval castle. The entire room suddenly became pitch-black as the Gate closed behind them. They heard some chanting coming from up ahead. "Neuga, Neuba, Zieber, Zome..." said a sinister-sounding voice, and several ghostly flames appeared, illuminating the path. "Now the chosen time has come..." said the voice, as more flames appeared. CB and Mason ran on down the path. "Exchange this world for..." continued the voice, and the flames shot up around a circular pattern on the floor. It was a six-pointed blue star, adorned with many small, intricate designs. Standing in the middle was a man. He had flowing purple hair, a blue cape, and brown gloves. He was about six feet tall. His arms were extended to either side. He was facing a statue of a six-armed demon. A small fire burned in each of its hands. "Um, excuse me... sir? We seem to be lost and-" CB cut Mason off as the figure turned around. From the front, he looked even more evil. He had a long, pointed nose, red eyes, and pale skin. At his waist was a sharp-looking scythe, not unlike the one Zeratul carried. He was wearing a brown leather vest, brown boots, and a purple shirt and pants. "Yes?" the man inquired. "Uh, hello, Magus. I am Codebreaker and my friend here is named Mason Wheeler. We were wondering if you could help us?"
"No," said Magus. "In fact, I think I'll just kill you instead." And Magus drew his scythe. He muttered an incantation. Then he pointed at Mason and grinned. Mason was engulfed in an explosion of Dark Magic, leaving him gasping for breath on the floor. Codebreaker, knowing exactly what to do, grabbed the palmtop from Mason's belt.
Meanwhile Magus had begun to cast another spell. Since the battery still wasn't quite recharged, he worked quickly. After a few seconds a large dangerous-looking sword appeared in front of Codebreaker. The name "Melchior" was engraved on the handle. Codebreaker took it. "With this sword, the Masamune, I shalt slayeth Magus and restoreth thine honor..." he said, quoting a line from Chrono Trigger. And with that he hit Magus as hard as he could.
Magus went down immediately. "Wh...what have you done... with the Masamune...?" He gasped.
Mason got to his feet. Suddenly an enormous distortion appeared. It then left as quickly as it had come. "Oh no...bad timing...don't wake up on me now!" gasped Magus.
"Oh yeah, that's right! I forgot, you were summoning Lavos so that you could kill him and avenge the destruction of the Kingdom of Zeal where you grew up. And you were going to try and get your sister Schala back too," said Codebreaker.
"What...do you know about that?" asked Magus, getting up on his knees slowly."
"I'll explain later. In the meantime, HANG ON!" yelled CB, as the distortion reappeared. Magus, CB, and Mason barely had time to grab a hold of each other's hands before the distortion ripped apart into an enormous Gate, swallowing up all three of them.
Where does the enormous Time Gate lead?
Will Magus assist CB and Mason?
How DOES CB know everything about Chrono Trigger?
Find out next time, in the Great VSP/WASTE Saga!