CHAPTER 9: ROYAL FORCES, PART III
The mission should have been simple…or at least it seemed foolproof. But it all had come down to the bad decision on the part of a single Freedom Fighter. Right now, the Stealth Team and Frances’ bombing squad were now making a run for their lives out of a factory that was about to explode.
Twenty-two…twenty one…twenty…the door was in sight, but there was still the danger of being in range as the thing blew to kingdom come.
The other Freedom Fighter squads weren’t having an easy time either. Right now they were fighting off a squad of Swatbots, Legionnaires and Robians. Though the squads were trained well, they knew which one to knock out and which ones to destroy, they were in a disadvantage in terms of numbers. But that has never stopped them before.
Clove, now the highest in rank with Sally, Geoffrey and Frances absent, led her squad in battle. Her bladed tonfa tore through the metal of the Swatbots…in the staff part were blasters so she could shoot them from a distance as well, and the staff parts were good for knocking the organic soldiers out. Not to mention her strong feetwork made sure she tore through the ranks. “I am not dying here…I must honor her princess…and I have someone to return to…” she thought as she fought.
Nineteen…eightteen…seventeen…sixteen…they were not going to make it…no, that was no way to think, they had to press on.
Rotor knew that being big he was not fast, or a small target to hit. Luckily he had better armor on his body and his big girth to make up for that. Not to mention short-term EMP bombs which knocked out the Robians and cybernetically enhanced Legionnaires and fried the Swatbots’ circuits, leaving them open to be torn apart by sheer strength.
They had passed the door, now to run to a safe distance…ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…Their legs were hurting and their chests burning but no way they would quit now…ignoring the bile-like tastes in their mouths and the aches, they pushed through…four…three…two…one…
The explosion ravaged the building…seeing the massive complex it was hard to believe only three bombs were enough to take it out. Rotor has done good work. But the fiery explosion grew higher, and wider as well as the blast was on the tails of the Freedom Fighters…not to mention the shockwave blew them off balance…it nearly seemed the flames would catch up…
But then a strong gust of wind blew at the flames…it was not normal wind as hints of green energy seemed to envelop these winds…these winds that pushed back the flames and then gently carried Sally’s team out of range. The factory was gone, and they made it out…but what made those winds?
The Freedom Fighters of Clove’s group briefly stopped fighting to witness the explosion and the safe return of their teammates. The Robians, Legionnaires and Swatbots briefly stopped as well to progress what has been going on. By the time they were ready to fight again, Sally’s group rejoined Clove’s, now making the group nearly complete. “Princess Sally, praise the Walkers!” Clove said.
“Sally…everyone…we thought you were blown to Kingdom Come…I wanted to go after you, but Clove talked me out since we otherwise lost more numbers…but I knew you’d make it in one piece.” Rotor cheered.
“Speak for yerself!” Frances said, holding the cut off stump of a tail…which now was scorched at the place where it was cut off due the flames getting awfully close before she got carried out.
Sally pulled out her energy katanas, pointing one at Frances: “You and I will have a big talk later on! But now I need you to help us fend off these troops and get our teams safely home…if you can do that!” Sally was angry, you could hear, but somehow still sounded collected.
“Er…sure princess…” Frances said, sounding half-scared, half-shocked and half-annoyed.
“Those winds…the ones that saved you…I’ve seen those before. They were the same that saved my team when we were ambushed. It is…” Clove noted.
“If yer saying it’s that Cyclone Rider guy, I’m going to hurt ya! It’s a fairy tale, just the shockwave that saved us…there ain’t such a thing as a guy who can shoot wind!” Frances said annoyed.
As soon as she said that something shot from the sky, landed with great force in front of the Freedom Fighters, blowing up even more wind, which splashed up mud and spilled oil from destroyed Swatbots…though no Freedom Fighter was splashed, aside Frances.
“You got to be f***ing kiddin’ me!” she said for the second time that day as she wiped the grime of her.
The heroes got a good look at the savior. He wore a black bodysuit with silver lines on the sides. He had red gloves and boots, and wore green armored parts around his chest and head, with red bug-eyed visors and a scarf for the heroic look. Sally spoke to the hero. “You…you saved us…thank you. I don’t know who you are, but you are clearly an ally…will you help us fight Robotnik’s forces and become a Freedom Fighter?”
The Cyclone Rider was silent for a few moments. “I will help those who are needed, but I can’t join your team. My reasons are my own…” his voice was deep, yet was soft and calm. “But I would gladly assist you in your endeavor.” He said as he readied himself.
“Good enough for me.” Sally said as she and the other Freedom Fighters readied themselves. The enemy had finally been able to let the appearance of the weird wind-shooting hero sink in as they were ready to resume their attempts at bloodshed. “Freedom Fighters, Go!” The heroes charged forward at the evil forces.
Sally had her twin katanas ready. She rushed forwards at some Swatbots, who were ready to fire, but Sally was quicker and sliced their weapons in half and then the Swats themselves. Two Legionnaires pulled out blade weapons, but Sally parried their blows, quickly disarmed them and knocked them out with a few well placed kicks, gracefully and efficiently. A few Robians closed in on her, ready to pounce. She let out a sad sigh, feeling bad for the victims in the metal shells, but placed Nicole on one of her blades, as Nicole sparked with electrical energy, channeled through the sword and at the Robians, knocking them out.
Clove sliced the Swats with the bladed parts of her tonfa. Several Legionnaires appeared and started firing at her, however Clove was quick enough to jump aside, pushing buttons on the hilts of her blades to let them shoot blasts of energy to disarm the Legionnaires, then close in and knock them down with the staff portions of her tonfa. Several Legionnaires came in and she pushed another button on the blades of her tonfa, electrifying them to knock the Robians out.
Rotor ran at the Swatbots, his arms in front of him so the armored parts could block the incoming shot of their weaponry. As he was close enough he scooped the Swatbots up, tossed them in the air and then grabbed them out of the air and smashed them down hard, as they fell apart into bits. He then grabbed one of his last EMP charges, tossed it with great accuracy at some troops of the enemy, knocking them all down.
Hershey fought with her segmented whip-sword hybrid; using it to lash at long distances at the foes. She knew perfectly how to swing it, knowing when the bladed parts will slice through Swatbots or weapons, or when the wirey part hits and knocked out a Robian or Legionnaire. Hershey however felt something barely miss her cheek, as she lost one of her whiskers.
Frances was fighting ferociously, as she now was driven by anger, swinging around her cleaver-like blade intending to slice everything in her path, not caring about her fellow teammates. Hershey had to react quickly as she had to pull a Robian out of the way before Frances sliced it. Soon after that she barely missed Private Jinx while trying to slice a Swatbot, the bat girl replying: “Hey, are you crazy?”
Cyclone Rider stepped in and blew Frances of her feet with a wind gust as he took over from her and started blowing strong gusts of wind around. He could either make them concussive to knock out Robians or razor sharp to slice through Swats, and he clearly did it with more care and precision then Francis. One Swat got close enough however, but even then the Rider showed some great combat skill without wind, as he toppled the robot with a strong kick.
The heroes could keep up the battle for a while, but they were not going to wait to wear down the superior numbers of Robotnik’s army or wait until they summon reinforcements. They only needed proper regrouping. They did what they came to do and that would be enough. “Enough fighting, evasive manouver alpha!” Sally said. The Stealth team pulled out some smokebombs to cover their escapes.
However, the Cyclone Rider also helped out a bit. “Allow me…” he said as he blew up a gust to blow up a lot of dust to help the smokescreen get bigger. Robotnik’s forces didn’t found a single Freedom Fighter left after the smoke cleared. The Robians and Swatbots acted on their programming and left to continue duties elsewhere, the Legionnaires in tow, whimpering on how they are so getting roboticized for their failure.
The heroes had made it back into the forest, on familiar terrain. They panted all heavily due to the heavy physical activities of the last few hours, but they would live. They noticed the Cyclone Rider was gone by now. Though he had helped them out, he was an odd guy. Though she didn’t know where he was, he knew where she was, as he overlooked the Freedom Fighters from a treetop, hidden from view. He was satisfied they wre safe and he was part of the reason. He groaned a bit as he grabbed his aching leg, but then he gently flew off on a gust of wind, to reappear whenever he was needed.
“Okay, is everyone accounted for?” Sally asked.
“Not everyone…one didn’t make it because someone couldn’t be bothered to leave the Deforestizer for what it was.” One of the stealth team members said angrily as everyone stared at Frances.
“What?” she asked, like they didn’t know what they were talking about.
“Where are Geoffrey and Iggy?” Hershey asked, not having seen the skunk and the other stealth team member since they had left the factory.
“Over here!” Geoffrey said as he and the other stealth team member, a bird Mobian named Iggy limped onto the scene. “We got out of the factory and into the forest as soon as we could. I wish we could have fought…Iggy fainted halfway, but we got better. Thanks for worrying, though, Hershey.”
“You’re welcome…” Hershey said as she turned around, hiding her blush.
“Now we’re sure the rest of us are all safe…I need to have a word with you, missy!” Sally said, fuming with anger and pointing at Frances. “You had one job…carry the soldiers out! But you acted on your own and as a result, our mission got way more difficult then it needed to be and because of your actions, one of our stealth team members got killed!”
“Hey…it was a good idea…a Deforestizer for our own use…it’s a shame about Dirk but…I acted in our best interests.” Frances said.
“You idiot! Nicole was already hacking the systems, she was already downloading schematics instead of taking seat behind an unfinished and uncontrollable death machine. We would have gotten what we wanted anyway, so you should have done your job keeping an eye on those knocked out guards. They escaped and attacked us because of you!” Sally said, giving a huge reason-you-suck speech.
“Mistakes happen, death happens, everyone knows the risks!” Frances said, refusing to admit her mistakes.
“We risk our lives, but we do our best keeping everyone alive. We do not make unnecessary sacrifices. We do not risk our own so we can glorify ourselves or make ourselves look better. I really appreciated what you’ve done in the past, you are a great warrior and tactician, but your own ego and pride has become more and more of a liability…I’m demoting you, as of now, Clove is the Commander of the Ground Forces! And you are out of the Freedom Fighters until you’ve learned to work as part of a team again!”
“You can’t be serious, I’ve been a soldier far longer then you! I was a rookie in the great war, I have contributed to the Freedom Fighters’ cause!” Frances yelled back.
“The wrong you commited cannot be righted by your past efforts. Try explaining to Dirk’s fiancée that he is not going go come home and marry her…his blood is on your hands. My word is final!” she said. “Now get in line!” she screamed.
Frances nearly turned red in anger, but gave up. She was still outranked despite all and was forced to fall in line. At this point she couldn’t say anything to change the Princess’ mind in no way, and she realize it. She mumbled under her breath. “Congrats Clove Cervideas, you are the new Commander.” Sally said.
“But I’ve been Squad commander for a few months, I don’t deserve this promotion…can’t you make Rotor the new Commander instead?” Clove said, flustered.
“I don’t care for leadership roles, I am a brawler and tech support, not a leader.” Rotor assured her.
“You took charge in my absence, and you are strong and wise. I believe I’ve made the right choice.” Sally assured her.
“Oh gosh…wait until my little sis’ hears about this.” Clove said, flustered.
“She will…because right now we go home and rest up, we make the changes in rank official, inform a widow and court martial Frances…let’s go everyone!”. And with that, everyone returned home for now.
Elsewhere, someone was less happy. He was eyeing the Foreman of the factory and some of his Legionnaires. “So let me get this straigth…The Freedom Fighters destroyed my factory. Not disable it, totally destroyed it alongside my new Deforestizer…on your watch?”
“Y-y-yes sir, but I swear, I really tried my best and…” the Foreman said.
“You said when I put you in charge you could handle it. But clearly you didn’t. You set expectations, but didn’t live up to them. You know that Mobianity nowadays is a privilige, not a right…and you lost that right. I’m sorry Foreman…but you knew it was coming. Roboticize him and his entire crew! That way it may be an improvement.”
The Legionnaires were dragged off kicking and screaming by a bunch of Swatbots as they would be turned into mindless drones. Snively huffed. “You should have roboticized them all from the start, would have saved us all trouble. Why keep organics around at all?”
“Maybe…But in their organic states, Mobians have creative thinking, some instincts…which they lose when they become a Robian. Also makes them less boring. I would greatly benefit from great minds, and I hate reducing them. These bunch are no loss, since their minds were not that great. But let’s say if the likes of you were to become mindless drones…waste of your intellect and creativity.” Robotnik replied.
“Is that why I am still fully Overlander right now?” Snively asked his uncle.
“Make of it as you will, nephew of mine.” Robotnik said. “Anyways, the only way for a Robian to keep its personality but still have the programmed loyalty is manually fine-tuning them. But that takes too long. That’s why my new and improved Roboticizer’s production takes priority.”
“If said project is complete…what will become of me?” Snively gulped.
“It will all be up to you, Snively…” Robotnik said with an evil grin. Snively still didn’t know what would happen, but he dreads the day that he’ll find out.
Frances walked through the corridors of HQ in a foul mood. “After all I’ve done for the Royal Army and Freedom Fighters, this is my thanks! That royal brat she thinks she can put me out of commission…Just wait…I’ll show her and everyone…” she thought to herself. Until she bumped in Antoine, who was pushing around his food cart.
“Whoa, careful. You nearly made me spill ze soup.” Antoine said.
“Out of my sight weenie, I’m already in a bad mood as it is!” she groaned.
“Very well. But still I need to make sure everyone eez well fed.” Antoine said as he handed her a bowl of soup.
“What is this gunk?” she asked as she looked at the soup inside the bowl.
“Terapod tail soup.” Antoine said.
Frances fumed harder then the hot soup. The mention of tail soup, right after the last mission ravaged her tail and would take months to regrow still made her touchy. “Are you making fun of me?”
“Moi? I didn’t know anything about the mission since I was ‘too scared to leave the comfort of my kitchen’. How would I know about your tail up until now?” Antoine asked mockingly as he walked off, whistling, pushing his soup cart.
Frances fumed even harder and in anger crushed the bowl of soup in her hand…then learned that was not a good idea as shards of the broken bowl has embedded in her hands and boiling hot soup burnt her hands as she screamed out in pain.
Antoine was out of range of Frances as he grabbed his leg in pain. “Ouch.” He groaned.
“Hello Antoine!” Muttski greeted happily as he and Rotor both came onto the scene to greet him.
“Hey Twan!” Rotor said, happily greeting his friend again. “Mission was a success…though Frances’ blundering has made things complicated. We lost Dirk because of it. Good news is Frances is no longer commander though, Clove is now.”
“Vraiment?” Antoine said happily. “Well, we should throw a small party for her zhen. I can make a cake…Zhen something for ze funeral as well.” Antoine then grabbed his leg in pain.
“What’s up, Twan?” Rotor asked.
“Bumped my leg into something as I was cooking…eet eez nothing.” Antoine said.
“I hurt my leg as well…I made another boom earlier and this time something and this time I got a little more then getting sooth on me.” Muttski said. He was also limping slightly. “But it will go over in a few days or so. We’re still up for the movie night? I got a movie, and no it is not Jipponese this time.”
“We are. I will first give everyone zheir soup and then I’ll come.” Antoine said.
“Great, see you later, Twan!” Rotor said as he and Muttski let thier pal get to work.
Sally was in her office, making some notes on pieces of paper, and pinning them on a board behind her. Most of it were recent information. Documents on arranging a funeral for one of their own, a paper with the date for Frances’ trial, a list of possible recruits that could fill in some gaps in the ranks, and even a rough sketch of the Cyclone Rider whom saved her and her team. “If you are real…then the speedster, the flyer and the pyrokinetic may be real as well…” she said hopefully.
Outside of the forest, four Mobians came into view as they walked to the top of the hill and saw the fern of countless trees in front. Sonic smiled as he told his friends: “The Great Forest…the closest thing to home I will return to for now…and the Freedom Fighters are here…we made it guys!”
TO BE CONTINUED