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    Lost

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 18th November 2019, 12:44 am


    The thick steel door was slammed shut with strength born out of desperation and immediately the one closing the door rushed over to the dimly lit room and sat in a huddle on the floor in the middle of the room with his other five coworkers. A small lantern had been lit in the middle of their group, the wavering flame bringing out the worst in their terrified expressions as they sought for courage within their group. They were trembling in utmost fear, in total silence as an atmosphere of impending doom shrouded them. Erin Riviera, the leader of the team would occasionally hold her head up and look towards the door, as though it might be breached at any second.

    The silence and the waiting had only been three minutes but for them it was like three years. Three years of excruciating pain as they waited for the inevitable. And then it arrived. The entire facility shook and trembled, the bones of the structure creaking as it resisted the onslaught of blows. Each and every hit against the facility generated a thunderous boom, loud enough to temporarily deafen the researchers hiding within the abandoned research facility. The reckless beating upon the research facility, which had been fortified structurally and magically to withstand such an assault, it finally stopped but not before another avalanche-causing roar from the immense creature.

    With a grunt, the Frost Giant gave up on its hunt and began to move away from the research facility, lumbering away in the snow, leaving huge prints in the snow leading back to the mountains. The researchers finally let out breathes of relief when the terrifying ordeal was over, and the joy of having survived the near-death experience extremely contagious. As they celebrated, Erin began to curiously look around and walked around the room with her hands outstretched, feeling the walls. She walked along the wall of the room until her fingers finally touched upon a large square box mounted on the walls.

    She was going to continue by sense of touch alone when one of her teammates walked up behind her and shone the dim light of the lantern on the wall. Erin turned around to look over her shoulders and gave a grateful smile and nod.

    “Need a light?” Lethyl offered as he kept the lantern above Erin’s shoulders while the latter opened up the square box. It was a circuit box and it housed multiple switches. Randomly flicking a few of them, Erin finally managed to turn on the lights of the room they were in and eventually for the entire research facility. The slow hum of a lacrima-powered generator began to fill the room as the lights switched on.

    Beaming, Erin turned around to look at Lethyl and the rest of the team. “I’m guessing we will be stuck here for some time, until we can get HQ to send someone to extract us from this place. Let’s check around and see what we can salvage to keep us going.”

    “Let’s split up into 3 groups of three. My team will sweep the upper floors, Erin’s will sweep the middle and lower floors while the Brack’s team will take the basement. I think there’s a tunnel leading somewhere. Be careful guys,” Lethyl spoke up, quickly assisting Erin with dividing up the researchers and soon all of them were moving around the abandoned research station.

    [568 words]
    [568 / 12500]


    Last edited by Shane Stern on 22nd November 2019, 6:06 am; edited 1 time in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 18th November 2019, 1:13 am

    “Hello.. You… reached… Ian Goldsli… secretary… Is… this…?” the breaking voice came over the communications device that Serine had been working on for the past few days as it came to life. Despite the quality of the voice on the other hand, all of the researchers whooped in joy and gave each other high fives as they waited expectantly for Serine to make contact with the one on the other end. From what they could hear, it seemed like they had successfully connected with the director of their research facility, Ian Goldslinger. It had been over a week since the team of researchers had been stranded in the frigid plains of Iceberg.

    They had been chased to this abandoned research facility due to an attack by a Frost Giant. However, when they thought they had hit rock bottom, the research team had unexpectedly stumbled upon a finding so monumental that they would go down in history when they finally got word of it to the world. And right now, nothing was more important than contacting their research facility for a rescue team to come pick them up. After their short moment of celebration, the team returned their attention to Serine as she attempted to make contact with their director’s assistant.

    “Hello! Hello!! This is Serine Imagowa from the Iceberg research team! Can you hear us?” Serine couldn’t help but shout into the receiver, unable to contain the anxiousness. To the others it might have been cause of celebration, but Serine knew that losing the connection to Fiore could happen anytime soon without any indication. As she continued to speak loudly into the receiver, the communication device began to emit sounds again. The team were about to make noise again when Serine quickly silenced them with a raised finger as she listened intently to the message that was coming through.

    It was unclear but the engineer could make it out and without hesitation, gave a very concise summary of their situation and how to find them. The line went silent after that and the team waited with bated breath, their hearts in their throats. Three minutes later the line was activated again and soon the team heard what they had wanted the most. The research institute was going to send a rescue team for them. However, in the midst of their celebration and Serine thanking whoever was on the other end of the line, static suddenly cut through the communications. Serine eyed the communication device with a worried look, and before she could calm back down, a deep voice speaking in a foreign language began to speak animatedly.
    Serine quickly cut off the communications line and stared at the device with wide eyes. Their communications had been tapped. When she looked back at the entire team, the team was confused, not instantly understanding what had scared Serine.

    [476 words]
    [1044 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 18th November 2019, 11:57 pm

    Shane sat on a stool as he sipped hot coffee from the screw-on cap of a flask that he held in his left hand. He had seen the same scenery every single morning for the past five days, and as the sun rose from the horizon, he could hear the others pulling open the flaps of their tents. Shane turned around to look at his subordinates, new faces in the Special Ops division that he had dragged away from their HQ in Fiore and specifically brought to Iceberg to train them in the cold. In the beginning, the entire squad had been unable to adapt to the harsh temperatures but with Shane’s strict training, the team slowly got themselves worked up and adapt to the climate.

    The Chess Team had been the best of his projects, a special squad that operated above the members of the Special Operations division in terms of operational efficiency. The team of five soldiers was his first project after he had attained the Captain rank in the Rune Knights and after seeing their achievements first-hand at how they could keep up with the toughest and most complicated of situations and show their capability to reorganize and strategize, Shane was even more confident of his project.

    Especially now that he had been abruptly promoted to General, the position somewhat stifling his operational capacity in the field, he was even more convinced that it was due for another team of super soldiers that would be able to chase after the Chess Team. And after a few months of trials and tests, Shane had personally identified five soldiers from the Special Ops that he believed would be the formation of another team rivalling the Chess Team.

    Coincidentally, a group of Knights from the Engineering Corps required assistance from the more combat-oriented corps while they were out testing new equipment in the field, providing Shane with the proper circumstances to test this new team. The new team was called Team Bravo for now, a placeholder until they could fully establish and prove themselves that they were what Shane was looking for. Then they could name themselves.

    “Good morning, Cap,” the chosen leader of this new team greeted as he walked up from behind Shane. Wearing a pair of reflective shades and having a head of cropped but messy silver hair, the man’s name was Scarecrow. Being quiet most of the time, Scarecrow had the aura of a leader on him that made it when he spoke, people would listen. That and his lightning quick mind that would be able to cook up the riskiest of plans. For a soldier, that trait would have ensured that Scarecrow never made it to a leadership position but for Shane, he had picked up Scarecrow specifically because of this. The man’s uncanny ability to concoct the craziest of plans had gotten him through many of Shane’s trials with an amazingly high success rate and zero casualty. “What do you have planned for us today?”

    “Volkz!” Shane shouted for the team leader of the Engineering Corps, and while waiting for the man to approach, he turned to look at Scarecrow. “Yesterday night, Volkz informed me that they would need to hunt down some monster native to these parts. They needed some materials for their creations. I’ll let him explain what he needs. Ah, there he is.”

    “General Stern,” the tall man called out as he arrived before nodding at Scarecrow.

    “Good morning, Volkz. Regarding what you told me yesterday night, I would trouble you to brief Scarecrow again on what you need. Also, please just call me Cap like everyone else.”

    “Yes sir,” Volkz replied, and then turned his attention to Scarecrow. Shane also wanted to know more about what Volkz needed from Scarecrow’s team but he was approached from the left by another Rune Knight who looked like he had some urgent business to share.

    “Cap, I just received word from HQ. Two weeks ago, a group of researchers from Campione Research Group were stationed here in Iceberg for their research. However, their expedition was only supposed to last a week, and that was supposed to be one week ago. And just last night, Campione received a call from their team. The connection was bad and they couldn’t get anything aside from the location that the call was coming from,” he reported, his eyes constantly observing Shane’s expression while he was speaking. One of the most observant operatives in the team, the soldier codenamed Huntsman was originally from the Engineering Corps who had thought his career as a soldier was over after losing left arm.

    He had then transferred over from the Combat Corps to Engineering, where the soldier had ingeniously created a robotic arm for himself, a far more superior version of what he used to possess. Despite that, it was nothing but a substitute. Given the choice, Huntsman would have wanted his limb back. Aside from being an exceptional soldier during his active days, Huntsman was also gifted in the subject of mechanical engineering as proven by his fully functional mechanical arm. Inevitably it was Link that passed him the dossier for Huntsman and after going through his achievements, the General decided to approach him.

    It had been a very short and decisive discussion, with Huntsman expressing his interest in the program with barely any hesitation. It had been his dream to return to the field and he was eager to take up the offer.

    Shane’s brows furrowed slightly as he listened to Huntsman’s report. “Did you manage to find any information about their research? Didn’t the research facility do anything to recover their researchers during their week of absence? Where did the call come from?”

    “They claimed that the researchers were testing out their theory that since the beginning of our planet, Ethernano is not long found in the atmosphere. They believed that Ethernano was also generated from the planet’s core and as such, there has to be expulsions of it from the core into the atmosphere. Due to the climate of Iceberg, they believe that the released Ethernano could possibly have been caught underneath ice pockets and gradually over the years, slowly hardened and crystallized into pure lacrima. If their theory is true, then they will be extract lacrima filled with magic power far purer than what we currently have in the world,” Huntsman explained. “I’ve read their paper on this subject. There’s nothing to say that they are wrong, and it seems plausible. It would be a startling discovery if they really found something.”

    “And also, a very concerning discovery. I hate to be a wet blanket but imagine if it’s really true. Nations would try to scour every natural habitat that they think could hold such a deposit of lacrima that we might end up destroying our planet. And not to mention, the military applications of it. With stronger and purer lacrima, there would be leaps and bounds in terms of weaponization,” Shane pondered as he gave his opinions. But all that wasn’t his concern yet.

    “Also, Campione said they had been trying to find the researchers but it hadn’t been fruitful because of the terrain and climate. They said that the call had been made from an abandoned research station called the Kirk-Star Lab. It’s roughly 50 kilometres to the west of our current location. Based on the map, there’s a frozen river and a forest that we have to go through to arrive at the Kirk-Star lab,” Huntsman pointed as he procured a map and held it down on the ground in front of Shane, using his fingers to draw an imaginary line.

    “This won’t be easy,” Shane murmured as he looked at the map, specifically the frozen river and the forest. The terrain and climate of Iceberg might be inhospitable to normal humans but monsters of all shapes and sizes roamed the lands. He guessed that the researchers probably encountered something that forced them to abandon their site and escape for their lives.

    “Huntsman, get everyone packing. Two teams. Team Bravo with me, and all EC officers to immediately return to base with Ironbark and Book.”

    “Yes, sir,” Huntsman nodded and ran off towards the bulk of the officers and wasted no time in relaying the General’s orders. Shane stood up from his stool and walked over to Volkz and Scarecrow, the two of them having already suspended their conversation halfway through Huntsman’s explanation. Scarecrow had a wry smile on his face while Volkz was standing with an unease.

    “Are we cutting short the field trip?” Scarecrow laughed mirthlessly, lifting his arms up to cross it in front of his chest.

    “Did something happen, General? I heard you talk about Campione,” Volkz added in as well. A cold wind suddenly blew by and the man hurriedly stuck his hands into his pockets.

    “Word just arrived from HQ. A team of missing researchers resurfaced yesterday with a call to their research facility. They have been missing for over a week, and since we are the closest in the area, HQ has requested us to bring in the team. Assemble Bravo Team. HQ may not have said it, but sending us in means that whatever caused the research team to flee their site to some unknown corner of Iceberg would be too dangerous for the other teams to handle,” Shane spoke frankly to the two Rune Knights in front of him. “Volkz, make sure your team is prepped for departure in one hour. I’ve assigned Ironbark and Book to your team. Bravo Team and I will be going for the missing researchers.”

    “Yes sir,” both Knights replied in the affirmative before moving away towards their respective team members.

    [1622 words]
    [2666 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 19th November 2019, 1:17 am

    With a total of six men, Shane and Bravo Team, all preparations for their rescue mission had been made. Two open-roof, light all-terrain vehicle for one driver and three passengers stood quietly on the white snow while Shane gave the last of his orders to Ironbark and Book. As they nodded and walked off towards the rest of the Engineering Corps Knights, Shane turned around to assess the newly put together team.

    Aloysius Knight, codename Black Knight was at the wheel of one of the vehicles while Scarecrow sat to the side and Hawk occupying the back seat. The man was a former bounty hunter turned Rune Knight and he had hit it off right away with Scarecrow. Both deadly in their own right, Black Knight had a slightly looser outlook on his moral compass and was more readily prepared to kill when forced to. His participation in the team had been via personal recommendation from Scarecrow. When put to the test, Black Knight had performed as well as Scarecrow.

    The other one in their vehicle, who went by the codename Hawk, was from the Engineering Corps as well. With a passion for developing weaponry, Hawk had originally signed up for the Engineering Corps as a way to explore his field of interest. However, with the interest to develop weapons also came the curiosity to actually test them out in battle first-hand. Hawk was a first-rate engineer with his sharp eye for details hence his codename, and at the same time, was a very versatile Rune Knight who could easily adapt to the situation at hand with his vast array of equipment. Like Shane, Hawk was also a Requip magic user.

    The other two men in the vehicle with an empty spot for Shane was Huntsman and Astro. The driver for the second vehicle, Astro, was Huntsman’s pupil, a young and upcoming Rune Knight that had shown great vigor towards his career with the Knights. But vigor wasn’t the only deciding factor for his entry into Bravo Team. Despite his young age, Astro’s combat sense was extremely on point. He was precise and accurate while also random, allowing him to catch his opponents off guard with unexpected maneuvers to take them down. This was Shane’s evaluation of him. He had once asked for Huntsman’s opinion of Astro, and he had said that trying to teach him their logic would severely impact his randomness. The only thing that could be done was to make sure his foundation was good, and to let him make less mistakes.
    Shane had fought him personally, and while victory was inevitable, there had been many times that Astro’s irregular style of fighting had caught him off guard and almost turned the tables on him.

    Shane hopped into the back seat of the second vehicle and with the tacit understanding between all of them, a nod of his head sufficed. The engines of the two vehicles roared with power, and within seconds, they had hit full speed, racing across the frozen tundra. Icy wind whipped across their faces, forcing them to put on masks so that they could watch their surroundings unobstructed. Each of them was armed, their heads constantly swiveling left, right and back as they travelled. Despite his earlier concerns about the dangers of traversing the frozen river and the forest of pines, their luck held up and they easily crossed the two landmarks.

    Their arrival at the Kirk-Star Lab took them only one hour. However, when they finally arrived, Shane had noticed a vehicle parked behind the lab. From what he could see, it was camouflaged against the tundra’s colors and didn’t look like what a team of researchers would be using to get around. A sense of apprehension swelled.

    “Hawk, head around back and check that vehicle. Huntsman, you and Astro go up and approach from the roof. See if there’s any topside exit that we need to know of. Scarecrow, Black Knight, on me,” Shane instructed with haste. Again, with a nod from all of them, they dispersed to take on their respective tasks. Moving behind Shane, Scarecrow and Black Knight had prepared their weapons. Scarecrow, was very similar to Rook, in terms of his choice of weapons. Despite his smaller frame, he had his fingers wrapped around the grip of a high-caliber, low-ammo per magazine pistol. He supplemented it with another pistol in his left hand, a quicker firearm that could shoot in bursts at a rapid speed. Black Knight wasn’t even less subtle. He carried on him two sawed-off twin-barrel shotguns on his back, as though swords. One was already in his right hand, while a smoke bomb was held in his left.

    Empty-handed but combat-ready, Shane led the trio and walked up to the large metal doors of the laboratory. As they approached the building, the large dents in the all-metal building hadn’t been missed by any of them, regardless of where each team member was. That further confirmed Shane’s theory that something fierce had forced the researchers to abandon their research site and seek protection in this seemingly impenetrable fortress of a lab. Three loud bangs on the door quickly got him the attention he needed and Shane stepped back while waiting for the door to open. A slot opened up in the door and a pair of frightened eyes looked out from them.

    Before Shane could even identify themselves, the doors had already been unlocked and opened. A man with a well-trimmed beard and mustache welcomed them, inviting them to enter. While Shane’s entrance had been treated indifferently, watching the other two men entering with weapons seemed to unnerve their host. Scarecrow and Black Knight lowered their raised firearms but still had their grip tight around their weapons.

    “We are from the Rune Knights. I trust you are the missing researchers? We just got word of your circumstances this morning, and we have rushed here almost immediately,” Shane introduced himself. “My name is Captain Stern and these are my team members, Scarecrow and Black Knight.”

    The moment Shane had introduced them, Hawk’s voice came to them through their earpiece. “Cap, I’ve taken a look at the vehicle. They’ve done a great job covering up the identity of the vehicle, but they can’t do anything about its nature. Everything about it indicates that it’s used by some form of military.”

    The voice stopped there, and was replaced by the sudden wrenching of metal. Then Hawk’s voice resumed. “Definitely military. Got a shit load of weapons in here, team.”

    Despite the news, the trio within the building kept up their indifferent appearances. None of them even exchanged a glance, acting as though they hadn’t heard Hawk. The only indication that they could send back to their team member outside was a series of three throaty coughs from Scarecrow as they resumed walking further into the laboratory under the lead of the man who had opened the doors for them. Behind his pair of amber-tinted glasses, Black Knight’s eyes were roving about as he walked, scanning the inside of the building for any potential traps.

    “Thank you for making this effort, Captain. My name is Lethyl, I’m the co-leader of our group. The other members are currently resting in their rooms, but you can speak to Erin,” the man identifying himself as Lethyl said as he brought them to a table with a female seated stiffly. An equally stiff smile appeared on her face, and Erin stood up from her seat, offering a hand to Shane. Shane had just about raised his hand to return the hand shake when all of a sudden, from the roof of the laboratory, a four-stories high building, a body smashed through thick glass and was thrown right down with a sickening crash.

    [1298 words]
    [3964 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 19th November 2019, 7:22 pm

    With just their physical strength alone, Huntsman and Astro had scaled the side of the building, their glove hands finding gaps in the metal wall with ease. It took them some time but the two Rune Knights managed to climb up the building without making any noise. And fortunately, they hadn’t. The mentor-mentee duo had received Hawk’s notification mid-climb, and they were quite sure that there would be sentries at the top of the building. And with their vehicles making loud revving noises as they approached the laboratory, the sentries that had been positioned at the top of the building had definitely noticed their arrival.

    Huntsman poked his head slightly above the edge of the roof and gave a sweeping glance at the flat roof. The design wasn’t advantageous in the snowy weather of Iceberg, but Huntsman deduced that it must have been because of the myriad antennas that were erected on the roof. An extremely tall and thick one that resembled the main mast of a ship was built in the center of the roof, with some other smaller ones surrounding it. The cluster of antennas were rather spread out, providing Huntsman and Astro cover. It so happened that despite having taken note of their arrival, the sentries parked on the top of the roof were too preoccupied with Hawk on the side of the building. Not knowing when they would encounter such an opportunity again, Huntsman signed to Astro to climb over the edge with haste. The moment they were on the roof, the two of them moved stealthily and rapidly moved around the antennas. Huntsman took the left and Astro took the right, each taking a glance to the side to see which side the sentries were on.

    Three sentries stood over the ledge; their weapons pointed down towards Hawk. Behind them, between the ledge and the antennas was a wide length of glass acting as a skyline. It was the same on their side, two long and wide strips of glass to let in natural light into the building.
    Their rapid-fire way of speaking, a language foreign to the two Knights indicated that they were communicating with someone, but there was also a tinge of frustration in their voices. It was probably their superior not giving them an answer yet, preoccupied with Cap’s presence. It was disconcerting how so much had been up to luck, which was the only thing that kept them from shooting down straight at Hawk. Astro attempted to grab his pistol, while Huntsman pulled out a combat knife from his waist. Sure, they had magic but sometimes old-fashioned weapons were the most effective one. Especially in the hands of trained soldiers like them.

    The two Rune Knights slid out of the shadows of the antennas with fierce efficiency. The sentries were completely caught off guard. Huntsman had lunged at two of them, using his mechanical arm to hold down one of them by the neck while he kicked the other one in the middle of his back and directly off the roof. That was for Hawk to handle, Huntsman thought. The sound of the scuffle from the roof had pulled Hawk’s attention as he looked upwards and he hastily leapt back when a human-shaped object vaulted off the roof. His hand flew to his handgun behind his waist while he kept his left hand extended in front of him as he approached the object that had turned out to be a real human.

    Dressed in military uniform with white camouflage, the soldier that had fallen down the entirety of four floors suddenly sprang up from the snow which had softened his fall considerably. And it wasn’t just any wild attack. With a sword in hand, the soldier threw himself on Hawk but the latter wasn’t so easily overpowered. Stepping to the side slightly, Hawk launched his left foot forward to catch the soldier in his side. Just as the soldier fell to the ground from the light kick, his knees just touching the snow, Hawk had already rushed right up to send a more powerful kick to the soldier’s stomach with his left foot again, slamming him against the wall. A quick aim with the handgun’s iron sights ended with a silenced shot.

    Hawk took a look at the roof again but he couldn’t see anything else. Time for another report to the boss.

    “Cap, sentries were placed at the top of the building. Huntsman or Astro kicked one off the roof and I’ve already taken care of that. Definitely foreign military. No visual on how many there are actually. Huntsman, Astro? Updates?”

    Meanwhile on top of the roof, the two Rune Knights had also dispatched of their opponents with relative ease. With his mechanical arm pressed down over his opponent’s throat, Huntsman merely grabbed the top of the soldier’s head and broke his neck with a very abrupt jerk of his hands. The body immediately went limp and he released his target. At the same time, Astro had ended his fight as well but it wasn’t the ending that Huntsman would have wanted. His opponent had put up more of a fight, pulling a curved knife out of nowhere and began slashing, forcing Astro to parry with his handgun.

    After a few close but successful exchanges, Astro finally found an opening and grabbed the man by his collar and without thinking threw the man over his shoulder to slam him into the ground. But the young Rune Knight had misjudged the direction. Instead of slamming the soldier into the metal floor, he had accidentally thrown the soldier onto the skyline instead and with a deafening crash of glass breaking, the soldier fell right through the hole in the roof, straight down the central shaft of the laboratory. For better or worse, the laboratory was constructed in a way that it was hollow in the middle with all the necessary facilities hugging the wall of the building. Catwalks connected each side of the building, creating a network of crisscrossing walkways. And it so happened that this poor soldier plunged straight down to the bottom, completely missing any walkway that would cut short his fall.

    [1032 words]
    [4996 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 20th November 2019, 12:58 am

    “Sorry about that. Roof cleared!” Huntsman’s voice erupted over their communications devices just as the body crashed to the ground. Without any attempt to feign surprise or even check their comrade’s condition, the man and woman who had identified themselves as Lethyl and Erin instantly eased into their attacks. Sparkling, dark energy resembling cosmos magic were fired from Erin’s hands. Shane took the attack in full with the shield that suddenly appeared in his left hand, which he had Requipped as soon as he heard the breaking glass above. Lethyl had already rushed past Shane, his hands turning into glistening blades, aiming for the necks of Scarecrow and Black Knight.

    With equally precise timing, five more soldiers stormed out from the upper levels and began leaping down from the walkways. With Patriot in hand, Shane immediately conjured a shield around all of them, protecting them from the magic projectiles that rained on them. With the cover from the shield, Scarecrow and Black Knight were still hellbent on using their weaponry instead of using their magic. It was as if they were trying to prove a point, that even without magic, the Rune Knights were still a force to be reckoned with, especially against another military organization.

    “Don’t kill them! Leave some alive for interrogation!” Shane ordered the moment the fight began.

    Black Knight slid his second twin-barrel shotgun from the holster on his back and the former bounty hunter pulled out all the stops. Not that he could do anything less with the shotguns in hand. The former bounty hunter turned Rune Knight dropped low and slid below Lethyl’s reach and aimed for the other five soldiers that had dropped down from above instead, while leaving Scarecrow to deal with Lethyl. With an assist from his magic, causing a mild explosion behind him directly, Black Knight slid forward on his knees and broke into the formation of the enemy soldiers.

    Taking on five at the same time was a stretch for him given the current situation but he knew back up was arriving. He straightened himself the moment the impetus from his slide ended and slammed the barrel of his shotgun in his right hand sideways into an enemy’s face and throwing him to the ground before extending his left hand and shooting another fellow point blank in the face. In the chaos, the remaining three soldiers turned their fire on Black Knight but before they could even shoot, a circular shield flew through the air, bouncing off each of their bodies as they were slammed backwards by the blow and just missing Black Knight’s. The one thrown to the ground caught Black Knight’s right leg, but the latter merely stomped down hard on his face with his left foot and without mercy, pulled the trigger on him.

    Shane, on the other hand, was having an easy time with his opponent. After defending against the energy blast from earlier with his shield, he had jerked his arm forward, smashing the shield into Erin’s face and while she was dazed, he had punched her in the gut with the edge of his shield, throwing her across the room and knocking her out before throwing his shield to cover for Black Knight.

    For Scarecrow and Lethyl, the two had been engaging in a melee battle, with the Rune Knight parrying blow after blow from his fierce enemy with a combat knife and his handgun. It was a high-end battle, unlike what the others had encountered, forcing him to use something called Gun-fu, where the fighter combines fighting in close combat while finding opportunities to fire off shots. The way Scarecrow fought was unlike Black Knight who preferred a wilder style. Instead, his was calculated. While making precise blocks and evasions, the Bravo Team leader’s eyes was darting back and forth for openings in Lethyl’s moves and when he finally found one, he bit onto it and refused to let go.

    That was how Lethyl had been dropped, having overextended himself during one of his rapid slashes and allowed Scarecrow to latch onto it. The moment the bladed right arm shot forward, Scarecrow stepped to the side once and unhurriedly slashed upwards with his combat knife across the enemy’s armpit. He then swept the man off his feet with a well-placed kick, and by the time he hit the ground, Scarecrow had already put the barrel of his massive handgun to his chest and pressed twice on the trigger.

    Huntsman and Astro dropped down from the hole in the roof, one after another, with Huntsman using his gravity magic to let them land safely. The instant they touched the ground, mentor and mentee lunged at the three soldiers that had been slammed aside by Shane’s shield throw. Huntsman fought in a very straightforward way. If he was to be compared to Black Knight who could only be characterized as wild, then Huntsman was fierce. Without any trace of hesitation, the metal-armed soldier charged forward with his armored gauntlet and a combat knife. The combat knife left his grip fairly quickly though, thrown at the third soldier and stabbing into his shoulder with a yelp of pain from the guy.

    With his metal left arm and his armored gauntlet on his right, Huntsman destroyed his opponent with a series of well-timed punches going for where it hurt the most and ending it with a flipping axe kick. His enemy crumpled to the ground, unconscious. On Astro’s end, he was coordinating well with his mentor as well. When the knife from Huntsman had struck the soldier’s shoulder, Astro had pulled his out as well and with a reverse grip, stabbed the man in his thigh with a backhand and left the knife in place when he turned his attention back to his own opponent.

    The first blow that Astro dealt was a headbutt, creating a second impact for the soldier when his head snapped back and smashed into the wall Astro was holding him against. His every move contained elements of brawling in the street. First was a horizontal elbow strike against the soldier’s temple to further disorient him, a tight slap to the face on the other side then pulling his head down to meet a knee strike. And the finisher? The young Rune Knight grabbed the dizzy soldier’s uniform by the chest and waist and swung him over his head, smashing him headfirst into the ground loudly.

    Just then, the door to the building was suddenly slammed open but by the time they turned their heads around to look, a series of loud sounds that resembled that of a cannon blast echoed within the building, and two men dressed in the same uniform were thrown into the laboratory’s foyer. Sprawled on the ground on their fronts, the uniforms on their back were completely scorched and black smoke came off them. Walking in from the door was the last member of Bravo Team yet to enter the building, hoisting a cannon in his hands. Smoke still streamed out from the muzzle.

    “Sneaky bastards,” Hawk commented, releasing one hand’s hold on the cannon and used the other hand to swing the cannon around to his back, held in place by a strap, before closing the large doors of the laboratory behind him.

    [1217 words]
    [6213 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 21st November 2019, 2:23 am

    “Cap, I think you better listen to what they say,” Black Knight said as he led a male and female from the group of researchers that were currently huddling together in a separate room. After taking down the group of soldiers in the laboratory, Shane had immediately ordered for Black Knight and Astro to turn the entire research lab over and check if the researchers were still alive. Scarecrow and Hawk was instructed to interrogate the surviving members of the enemy team and try to get the purpose behind their attacks on the lab. Huntsman was performing a check on the dead soldiers to see if he could identify them, in case the interrogation didn’t go smoothly.

    Shane was sitting in the main chamber of the lab, right under the network of walkways that connected the rooms on each side of the building. The man was in contact with Ironbark, checking up on the condition of the other Rune Knights sent back to base. It was a much-needed positive answer from Ironbark, who was an hour away from arriving back at HQ. The moment he put down his iLac, Black Knight had came over with his ominous sentence. Shane stood up to shake the hands of the two researchers.

    “Professor Erin and Professor Lethyl, I suppose?” Shane spoke up first with a grin. The two researchers were startled, no doubt their nerves still highly strung after what they had just gone through. They then looked at each other and gave a nervous chuckle. The female researcher pulled out a scrunchy from her pocket and pulled back her long brown hair in a ponytail before sitting herself down at the table. Lethyl took a seat behind her.

    “See if Scarecrow and Hawk needs any help, Black Knight,” Shane suggested, his subordinate nodding once and then walking away to check on his teammates. Back at the table, Shane turned his attention back to the two researchers.

    “General Stern,” Erin began to say first but Shane cut her off.

    “Please, Shane or Cap. Please continue. I believe you were about to tell me what you guys are doing here.”

    “Yes, Cap. Two weeks ago, our entire team set up camp on Iceberg. We were here to prove our theory, that over the millennia, in the same way that gas pockets could formed deep underground, Ethernano was also formed underground. We believe that everywhere on Earthland where nature flourishes, there would be an abundance of such Ethernano, and most likely, there could be pockets of Ethernano trapped beneath the surface. And in time, the trapped Ethernano would be compressed into lacrima. Purer that any man could have produced. But before we could make much progress, our camp was attacked by a Frost Giant. We had a team of mages protecting us, but they couldn’t do anything against the Frost Giant. It was by their sacrifice that we managed to escape.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that. But I still need to know. If you haven’t stumbled upon the lacrima deposits that you mentioned, then why were there still enemy troops that were sent after you? To even occupy this laboratory,” Shane pursued, the answer he sought still not presented. At this, Erin looked towards Lethyl and they shared a nod again. This time it was Lethyl who spoke up.

    “After escaping to this abandoned laboratory, we thought we were safe. In the second day of exploring this place, we found a pathway. It was a natural pathway, not man-made. It was in the basement and when we followed that pathway to the end, we stumbled upon something that was more outstanding than our original goal.”

    At this point, the professor decided to take a break. Shane rolled his eyes at the attempt at suspense but he kept quiet, waiting for the professor to continue.

    “We found the body of a large ice dragon below this entire facility. It was dead when we found it,” another unknown voice popped up, belonging to a female. “My name is Serine Imogawa. I was the one who had repaired the communications device and transmitted our message back to HQ.”

    “Nice to meet you, Serine,” Shane said simply. “Please continue. You guys still haven’t given me what I really need to know yet.”

    When Serine took her seat at the table, Lethyl was scowling at her for ruining the big finish to his story but Shane and Serine couldn’t care less.

    “I see. So I guess, in a bid to contact civilization, you broadcasted it on a public channel. And somehow, someone was tapping into the channel and they heard your announcement. Am I correct?” Shane concluded the whole thing. He was surprised at the discovery of a dead dragon, but he kept it masked. The three researchers nodded at the same time in response to Shane’s conclusion. “You may return to your teammates. I’ll need some time to talk about this to my subordinates and plan accordingly for what to expect next.”

    [833 words]
    [7046 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 21st November 2019, 3:10 am

    The team of six sat at the table, all of them lost in their own thoughts. All six had their brows knitted tight, after listening to Shane’s summary of the situation with the researchers. For the Bravo Team, this was their first time being exposed to a mission of such scale.

    “So any findings on the identity of the soldiers?” Shane was the first to break the silence. He looked towards Scarecrow, Hawk and Huntsman. Scarecrow lifted his head and nodded.

    “Bosco military. These guys are from Bosco. They probably caught the broadcast on their devices and immediately sent a group here. Time-wise, were already late by eight hours when we finally got our orders from HQ,” Scarecrow replied.

    “Cap, I don’t think this group is the last of them. We need to evacuate this place as soon as possible,” Hawk added his bit to the conversation.

    “Yes. Hawk, Huntsman, bring a few members from the researchers and check out the dragon remains. Double confirm if there’s anything worth bringing back to Fiore. I’m not keen on leaving it here for another group to stumble upon it again, so it’s either we are bringing it back with us and let the Field Marshall and Director decide what to do with it or we make sure no one finds it again after we leave. Black Knight, Astro, you will act as our sentry. Make sure you keep an eye out, in case we have new enemies approaching. Scarecrow, contact Link. Give him a sitrep.”

    The sounds of the chairs being pushed across the floor echoed in the almost empty lab, as all five members of the Bravo Team received their orders and got up from their seats. When they were all gone, Shane was the only one left behind and he began to ponder over what to do next.

    When the team members were all at their tasks, Shane walked over to the surviving members of the Bosco soldiers. There were only two of them left, and when they saw Shane approach, the two of them spat at the ground, where Shane would have stepped if he wanted to move forward.

    “There’s no point interrogating us any more, Rune Knight. We would rather die than spill any more secrets. Knowing our identity is good enough for you!” the one on the left, tied down to a chair, spat out. His accent was very distinct, and his eyes glared at Shane with a burning desire to just off him if he had the chance. The other man was tied with his arms open, each arm tied to a table leg by his wrist. His legs were completely bound as well, two sticks used to secure his legs so that he wouldn’t be able to bend his legs and try to struggle.

    “What does Bosco want with the dragon remains?” Shane acted as though he hadn’t heard the soldier’s words. A combat knife appeared in his hand, and the soldier scoffed at the small weapon. Shane merely smiled at the soldier’s ignorance. He continuously tossed the knife into the air and successfully catch it by the hilt each time, playing a dangerous juggling game. When none of them wanted to reply, Shane just stopped catching the knife. The combat knife stabbed through the left thigh of the Bosco soldier tied to the chair. In defiance, the soldier gritted his teeth and kept himself from shouting in pain out of sheer willpower.

    “Tough guy,” Shane commented tiredly before pulling the knife out of the wound, causing the soldier to hiss instead of shouting out. Again the Rune Knight played with his knife. This time, both of the soldiers’ eyes followed the movement of the blade as it rose and fell non-stop. “We’ll try this again. What does Bosco want with the dead dragon?”

    Two seconds later and without a reply, Shane again ‘failed’ to catch the knife. The knife stabbed into the same thigh, this time one inch to the right of the first wound. The soldier couldn’t not cry out in pain this time. He panted through the pain but the fires in his eyes were still not extinguished. Shane shrugged. He had two captives after all. Let’s try with the other one.

    Standing over the one tied to the table, Shane once again started playing with the knife. After five seconds, Shane caught the knife with a powerful swipe of his hand and made to throw the knife at the soldier. A cowardly shout issued from the soldier’s mouth and he had his eyes shut in anticipation of the knife stab, but after one second of not feeling anything, the man slowly opened his eyes and looked at Shane apprehensively.

    “I’ll talk…. I only know bits and pieces of it. There was some word of the dragon being used to power some sort of new weapon that we just developed. That’s really all that I know!” the man wailed as he struggled futilely. His comrade could only sigh, his shoulders drooping as he resigned himself to his fate. He had taken two stabs to his thigh for naught. However, at that very moment, a very loud explosion rocked the entire research facility.

    “Damn it!” Shane cursed in a low voice before running out of the room.

    [884 words]
    [7930 / 12500]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Super Soldier
    Posts : 789
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 623,530

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Plus Ultra
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    Lost Empty Re: Lost

    Post by Shane Stern 21st November 2019, 10:05 pm

    As he ran out of the room, the door to the laboratory was blasted in at that same time. A massive cloud of snow and dust blew into the room, temporarily giving the Rune Knight some form of cover as he ran across the foyer. Black Knight and Astro was supposed to inform them if they were any approaching enemies but so far there had been no updates. With natural light from the outside filtering into the building from the destroyed entrance, Shane could see that there was an unusually high number of silhouettes hidden within the cloud. Without sufficient backup and information on who they were facing, he could only take the most logical course of action. Retreat.

    “Scarecrow, can you hear me?” Shane called through the communications device lodged in his ear but what he got was static. He immediately suspected that the enemy had brought something to disrupt their communications. That was probably the reason why Astro and Black Knight hadn’t cued them about the arrival of their enemies. Trusting his team members to do what’s right, Shane bounded up to the second floor with a powerful leap, grabbing the railings on the walkway and vaulting himself over with a loud clang as his boots stamped down on the metal.

    The attacks were instantaneous, all of their offensive zeroed in on where the sound had originated from when the enemies swarmed into the ground floor. A dark ball of energy slammed right into the end of the walkway, causing the entire walkway to shake. When Shane turned around to look at it, the dark energy hadn’t dispersed and was instead eating away at the metal. Another ball of flames, hit the walkway again, this time right below where he stood. The force of the attack coupled with the destroyed end of the walkway lifted the whole walkway into the air, bending it at the other end. Cursing, Shane rode the walkway until it was lifted 45 degrees up into the air before jumping off it to the other end, rolling on the ground as a few more blasts of magical attacks struck the circling corridors from below.

    Quickly the man dashed forward in a half-crouch and entered the first room he reached. He quickly slammed the door behind him, and when Shane took a look at the contents of the room, he sighed. Three pairs of eyes looked back him with fear. They were the researchers who had been injured when the Bosco soldiers had invaded the place, and now they were trapped in here with Shane against the overwhelming assault. But hiding out here wasn’t a good choice. Not when he still had men out there.

    Opening the door slightly, the attacks had already stopped but Shane could hear the heavy footfall of the men occupying the entire area. The echoes within the building prevented him from accurately counting how many men there were from their footsteps but that wasn’t stopping him. Patriot appeared on his back out of nowhere and he put it on, strapping it around his left wrist. Without a single word to the desperate researchers, Shane moved as stealthily as he could and exited the room. There was at least five men on each floor, so that was fifteen men on the upper floors with at least another ten on the ground floor.

    “Gotta love the odds,” Shane whispered to himself. Readying himself, the General of the Spec Ops division moved swiftly on his feet. An enemy appeared right in his view as he exited a room he had just checked. The enemy soldier instantly trained his clenched fists towards Shane, allowing the latter to glance at a particular device strapped to both his wrists. But there was no hesitation in his actions. Punching forth with his left hand, using the edge of the shield to supplement the strength of his punch, Shane got the soldier to double over and he grabbed the man roughly by the back of the neck.

    With barely any signs of exertion, the soldier was lifted and thrown back into the room he had just came out from. Shane followed after the soldier and before the latter could even crawl back up, he had slammed the shield into the soldier’s chest while using the force of the punch to slam into the wall as well for a double hit. He didn’t even wait for the enemy to drop to the ground, before exiting the room. He was on the prowl again, looking for another target. After four more attacks on the enemy soldiers, none the wiser to where they had come form, Shane was already on the fourth floor. He hadn’t methodically been clearing floor after floor. Instead, whenever he found a chance, he would leap from floor to floor to take out the enemy.

    However, the enemy wasn’t dumb. With more and more losing contact, the commander of the enemy forces realized what was happening.

    “General Shane Stern!” the commander called out from the ground floor, a well-built man wearing the same combat suit as the other enemy soldiers. Like the others, he too had the same device at his wrists. By then, Shane had already deduced that those were magic equipment, designed to assist in the enemy forces to accumulate and enhance their magic powers in the form of energy blasts of varying elements. He had taken one from the soldiers he had beaten up, knowing that it would be worth studying by the Engineering Corps when he returned to HQ.

    The sudden declaration of his name stopped Shane in his tracks, right as he was about to land the final blow on an enemy soldier. He had caught the soldier by his collar and was about to clock him with a punch when he was called, stopping his punch. With a glare, still holding the soldier in the air and walking to the railings, Shane looked down at the one who had called him out so arrogantly. Sneering, Shane held the soldier over the railing and threatened to drop him.

    “You wouldn’t want to do that,” the commander said with a wide grin, as he clicked his fingers. From under the walkways, two enemy soldiers brought out two men that was very familiar to Shane. It was Black Knight and Astro. Even from above, Shane could see that the two of them had been roughed up slightly but it wasn’t enough to subdue them. When the two looked up at him, their intent clearly reflected in their eyes, Shane wasn’t disappointed at all. This was a tactical maneuver in the face of overwhelming numbers.

    “Drop my man and I will drop yours, General. Why don’t you come down so we can talk?” the commander called out again. At his words, the two soldiers holding down Black Knight and Astro raised a clenched fist each and pointed it at their backs. Shane could see clearly the magic energy charging up their weapons on their wrist.

    “Fine,” Shane finally said, but instead of releasing the soldier he had captured, Shane jumped off the railings together with him, prompting the soldier to scream as they fell. The Rune Knight General landed heavily with a crouch but appeared unfazed by the height. The moment he touched the ground, Shane tossed the soldier aside before stepping up to face the commander.

    “You got me. Let’s talk,” Shane spat out as he looked at the commander. The two of them were equally built and of the same height. “Who are you?”

    “My name is Commander Flyke, and we are ARGUS. We are a shadow group directly under the Magic Council’s rule, and unfortunately for you, we need the bones of the dragon you and your team found.”

    “For a shadow group, you are very forthright with your identities.”

    “You don’t have to worry about it. No one is leaving this place, and no one will know that we were even here, General.”

    As he spoke, Shane began to notice that there was movement from the third floor. Originally thinking that it was the enemy soldiers, a second fleeting glance told him that it was Scarecrow. When the lab had been attacked, Scarecrow had hidden himself as well to gauge the situation.

    By himself, he had taken down three men but Commander Flyke had attributed it to Shane’s kill count so he had gone undiscovered. He had noticed the same thing the General had seen when Black Knight and Astro was brought out as hostages. When he saw Shane jump down to meet to speak to the commander of the enemy forces, Scarecrow had started to plan his counterattack.
    “How did you know about our location?”

    “ARGUS prides itself on our intelligence. Do you think that as an extension of the Magic Council, we wouldn’t have planted spies in the Rune Knight? Granted, none of my moles were brought along for this mission, but news spread fast, General.”

    “If I ever return to the HQ, I will personally purge every last one of your moles,” Shane spoke through gritted teeth, angered that the integrity of the Rune Knights had been compromised by the very same Magic Council they were serving loyally. It seems that when he returned, there truly was cleaning to do.

    “You won’t. Once we secure the dragon, we will stage an avalanche. General Shane Stern and his team of Rune Knights, buried under the snow and frozen to death. What a tragedy,” Flyke said with a sneer.

    “Not if I have anything to say about it, asshole,” a voice shouted from above. Every single pair of eyes below looked upwards, but only three men were smiling when they heard it. Scarecrow stood on one of the walkways and his hands were outstretched, palms open. Several items were already dropping down when they realized what he had done. Smoke and light burst into existence the moment the grenades dropped to the ground and it was chaos. With the silhouette of Flyke still in front of him, Shane lunged forward with a front kick at his target.

    But the kick never connected. From the smoke, he could see that his kick had been stopped by a raised knee and then like a snake striking, a straight punch flew for his face. The Rune Knight General blocked the punch with a raised elbow, then extending his bent arm forward to backhand punch the ARGUS commander but it had been a trade. Shane’s backhanded punch had caught Flyke in the chest and in exchange, Shane took a punch to the gut. It had been a losing trade for him as he stepped back from the punch, where he could see the dying sparks of lightning lingering where he had been hit.

    While the Rune Knight General and ARGUS Commander were fighting things out, Black Knight and Astro had easily destroyed their restraints and joined the battle. The report of his shotgun shots could be heard repeatedly, followed by the anguished screams of the victim. Black Knight was incredibly efficient with his chosen firearm despite the limited range he could fire and requiring to constantly reload. But when in action, all of his actions flowed together smoothly, allowing him to take down his opponents with ease. It was a skill honed during his years as a bounty hunter who specialized in using non-magical means to take down dark mages, and even as a Rune Knight, he still kept it up.

    Comparatively, Astro’s base was in his street fighting skills. Magic-wise, he wielded the ice element and he would often incorporate brawling tactics into his Ice Make magic. Even at the moment, he was fighting in his typical brawler style supplemented with his magic, using bricks made out of ice and even unconventional tactics like blinding his opponents with a face full of ice crystals. His randomness also added an unexpected twist to the way he fought. Two ARGUS soldiers found out the hard way.

    In their fight, even under the cover of the smoke and light flashes that Scarecrow had provided, Astro still saw fit to burst his two opponents with a storm of ice crystals. The moment it obstructed their vision, they saw the Rune Knight charging straight through and began his offensive. The one on the left was the first to be hit, taking a brick of ice straight to the side of his head while the other soldier doubled over with a punch enhanced by a gauntlet of ice. Astro attacked non-stop with his weird but effective spells, and within seconds the two soldiers had been beaten down.

    From above the catwalk, Scarecrow had popped on a pair of thermal glasses and was pacing back and forth along the walkway. His right hand held his Desert Eagle high-caliber pistol while his left hand held another pistol similar to the Desert Eagle but with a much longer barrel. While his right hand fired non-stop, using around four to five hits to take down an enemy, the gun in his left hand only fired when he needed to diffuse any enemy attack. The soldiers on the higher levels were frustrated by the turn of events. Whenever they shot forth a blast of energy from their fists, Scarecrow would undoubtedly fire a black bullet from his left gun. Upon contact, the bullet would expand into a dark orb and consume the energy blast entirely before winking out of existence.

    While the soldiers struggled against his Rune Knights, Shane was fighting toe to toe against Flyke. He was indeed capable to be the commander, making him one of the few opponents to be able to keep up with Shane in melee combat. Compared to the rest, their fight appeared to be on the normal end of the spectrum but their moves were high-end. The distance between the two of them were very close, keeping attacks tight and requiring high reaction speed to evade.
    The intense fight only slowed down for a while when Shane managed to get in a palm thrust, using Hosenka Smash to blow the commander away from him. Flyke took the attack but he had managed to block it with his own palm, and stumbled away a few steps. Lightning was coursing through his limbs as he fought. After taking the attack, it wasn’t like him to slow down and the commander stepped forward a quick series of attacks. Leaping slightly into the air, Flyke smashed his right elbow downwards, followed by another elbow strike from the side with his left elbow before coiling his arms and releasing a close-ranged double punch into Shane’s chest.

    When the first elbow strike came, Shane had countered against it with a push from his left palm and then held up his right arm to absorb the second elbow strike. The double punch had come as a surprise, pushing him back but it was an opening. Catching the outstretched arms after his double-fisted punch, Shane clasped down on the wrists and immediately moved forward, crushing into Flyke with his shoulder with all of his weight behind him. It was a tackle and by right he should have knocked Flyke away, but Shane kept one of the wrists firmly in his grasp.
    He continued with Hargeon Smash, a supercharged uppercut that knocked Flyke into the air. The commander took it to his jaw in full, lifted into the air from the attack. But the man, lithe despite his size, flipped himself in air and without warning, sent a blast of lightning into Shane. The Rune Knight was thrown to the ground from the sudden attack, and before he could get up, Flyke was already on the ground and his hands around his throat. Lightning talons formed around his fingers and Flyke slashed twice across Shane’s chest, drawing blood.

    Enraged, Shane stretched his left arm towards Flyke’s neck and punched upwards with his right fist, once more throwing his opponent into the air. Flames rolled along his arms, much to Flyke’s surprise, and joining his fists together, Shane released a jet of black flames towards Flyke. An explosion of black flames blew the smoke away as it hit Flyke in the air, throwing him further up into the air and smashing into the bottom of a walkway before dropping to the ground. It had been a very surprising attack, completely messing with Flyke’s rhythm.

    He had thought his lightning elemental powers would give him the upper hand in the battle, but he hadn’t known that Shane hid the power of a god slayer. Shane had caught him completely off guard. Still reeling from the attack, Flyke was helpless to respond as a bullet him hit in the shoulder, courtesy of Scarecrow from above. The commander was forced to roll when a blast from Black Knight’s shotgun hit where he had last been. When he finally stood back up, a brick of ice even flew in his direction and hit the side of his head, but before he could pull himself back together, Shane had arrived.

    With a roar, the General had flew forward with a lunging knee strike, smashing into Flyke from the side. The impact tossed him in the other direction like a ragdoll but that wasn’t the end of Shane’s attacks. The Rune Knight bent his elbow back and magic energy began to accumulate around his fist. Black flames were layered atop the magic energy and when Shane finally let loose a punch, the accumulated combination of energy and flames rushed forward in the form of a fist, beautifully crushing Flyke against the wall. As the attack hit, the entire building shuddered.

    All of the enemy soldiers stopped upon the defeat of their commander, with the three Bravo Team members holding back their attacks as well. Coincidentally Huntsman and Hawk appeared from the basement and joined the fray, creating an encirclement around the remaining soldiers on the ground floor. All of the ones fighting for the higher floors had been shot by Scarecrow and were either bleeding out or killed.

    “Round them up, team,” came the General’s orders and the team replied in affirmation. Within ten minutes all of the ARGUS members had been tied down, with the Bravo Team members standing over them, weapons pointed at them. Commander Flyke was restrained as well, held at gun point by Shane as he contemplated what to do with them. Silence filled the entire building after the raucous battle.

    “Just kill me and be done with it,” Flyke spat out, as he looked at Shane resentfully. He had never failed in his mission so far, pulling off all sorts of impossible stunts for the Magic Council and their shadowy agenda. And right now, he couldn’t believe that he had been defeated by the Rune Knights, which in his eyes, were merely pretenders in uniforms, nothing but a puppet to the Magic Council.

    “Believe me, I would like that option very much as well. But your value lies in you being alive,” Shane retorted sharply.

    “Then you will be very disappointed,” Flyke spoke with a strong conviction in his voice. “Praise the Magic Council!”

    His subordinates echoed their commander’s call and immediately after, all of them moved something in their mouth and bit on it. Shane was wide-eyed at this and tried to stop Flyke from biting down on the pill but he was too late. It was a fast-acting poison that targeted the victim’s blood stream extremely swift. By the time Shane had reached Flyke, the man was already visibly quaking in his bonds, foam pouring out of his mouth. Even in death, his expression was resentful for his defeat. Shane shook his head, disappointed that he had lost too great a lead to be used against the Magic Council.

    The other five Rune Knights had also been flustered when their captives killed themselves but it wasn’t something new to them.

    “Cap, what do we do now?” Scarecrow stepped closer to Shane as he asked.

    “Call for transport. Astro, freeze the dragon below. Huntsman, Hawk, rig this place to blow. I don’t want anyone to ever discover this place and the dead dragon below this place.”

    However, after giving his orders, the first to reply wasn’t his subordinates but the researchers instead. Erin instantly ran up to him and confronted him.

    “You can’t do that, General! This discovery is a great deal for us! It would allow our fellow researchers to learn more about the dragons and find more uses for dragons as materials!”

    “This dragon was the source of all these problems, professor. It was your thoughtless broadcast that attracted all of these hostile forces. Think about your injured team mates, think about the dangers that my men had to endure. I don’t care about what benefits the dragon would bring. I only know that dangerous people are waiting to get their hands on it. And honestly, I don’t trust Campione about handling this dead dragon as well,” Shane replied in a cool and calm voice, indicating that there was no more room for discussion.

    Erin stuttered for a bit and looked to open her mouth to continue speaking but Shane silenced her with a glare.

    “If you guys know what’s good for you, you would keep your mouths shut about everything that happened today,” Shane concluded before turning around to walk out of the building. Bravo Team would take care of the rest.

    When the airship that Scarecrow had called for finally arrived in front of the Kirk-Star Lab, they herded the unwilling researchers into it. Shane had instructed to bring Flyke’s body back to HQ as well, so they could perform a post-mortem surgery to find out more about this shadow group. Lastly, the six Rune Knights watched as Huntsman activated all of the explosives strategically placed within the building. A massive yet muffled explosion took place in the basement of the laboratory and as the foundation of the building was destroyed, the laboratory cracked and collapsed on itself.

    What was left was ruins, and within a day or two, Shane knew that it would be completely covered by snow. The climate of Iceberg would see to it. On the way back to HQ, the six Rune Knights were completely silent as were the researchers who could only look through the windows with despair. It was a startling discovery that they wouldn’t give up, but after considering the risks and reluctantly understanding it, they had unwillingly gone along with Shane’s plan.

    During the flight back to HQ, Shane was constantly replaying everything that had happened during the mission. About the enemy soldiers from Bosco, about the shadow group working under the Magic Council. He was going to report it to Serilda and Mythal for sure, as he thought back to the other mission that Serilda had personally assigned him to undertake. There were too many things that were connected in this web of conspiracy. Shane lifted his head to look at the Bravo Team.

    Each and every member of the team had performed admirably during this job, and through this assessment, Shane had realized that one thing allowed them to stand out in comparison to the Chess Team. While the Chess Team possessed overwhelming firepower, essentially harnessing the power of an army with just five members, all of the abilities that the Bravo Team combined made them a very formidable team against mages. Their dependence on magical equipment may be higher than the Chess Team, but their expertise and handling of the weapons had painted them as a very different type of beast. With two tactical teams at hand, Shane had a feeling that they would soon play a very big part in the coming storm.

    It had barely been two days after they had returned from the chaotic mission in Iceberg, Shane compiling all the information he could to present it to the Field Marshall and Director. As the General found himself multi-tasking between his daily paperwork and trying to complete the report as quickly as possible, a knock on the door got his attention. Turning to look at the door, it was Link carrying a folder with a very grim expression on his face. Sighing, Shane leaned back into his chair as Link took a seat opposite him and pushed the folder to Shane across the table and opening it for him.

    “Remember the missing researchers that you rescued?” Link said as he took out the photos of each researcher. Shane nodded as he looked at the photographs then lifted his head to look at Link.

    “What’s with them?”

    “All dead. Official reports say that they caught a very rare strain of virus during their week-long disappearance in Iceberg. The virus was activated when they returned to the warm weather of Fiore, thus inducing a heart attack in all of them when the virus attacked their hearts,” Link explained somberly. Shane frowned at this revelation and fixed a steely glance on one of his most trusted subordinates.

    “Tell me you don’t believe this.”

    “In fact, no. The Bravo Team managed to obtain blood samples from them and had our guys check it out. There was no virus. Instead, we managed to highlight a certain chemical in their body. It was this chemical that induced the heart attacks in all of them. I don’t yet what this chemical mix is, but from the looks of it, it’s very much custom-made. A new type of poison,” Link further explained as he leaned back into his own chair.

    “During the encounter with ARGUS, they mentioned that they had spies planted in the Rune Knights. And I believe it’s the same person that informed them of our location, as well as the identity of the researchers.”


    “You are saying that it’s one of Bravo Team?” Link sat up straight when he heard of Shane’s accusation but Shane quickly held up both hands to calm him down.

    “No. I’m very confident where their loyalties lie. However, don’t forget that there were other Rune Knights that had known about where we were going,” Shane answered with a flash of worry in his eyes. For him to believe what Flyke had said and then suspect the integrity of his own coworkers was a painful decision to make, but Shane wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

    “Ironbark… and Book…?” Link hesitated as he pointed out the names. Shane merely nodded his head.

    “I’m also hoping that it’s just that bastard toying with me, trying to sow doubt but we can’t dismiss the coincidence.”

    “So, what do you want me to do?”

    “How’s the Alpha Team that you are bringing together?” Shane asked all of a sudden. His efforts hadn’t stopped at just creating Bravo and Chess. With Bravo being an incisive force and Chess supplying firepower, Shane had discussed with Link and the two had agreed that creating a team that focused on intelligence would be helpful. Especially with the long-reaching arms of a hidden group interfering.

    “I’m not sure if they are ready…”

    “Let them try. Ironbark and Book are veteran Rune Knights, so it will make it all the more challenging for the team. Treat it as an assessment,” Shane said with a dry smile. When Link nodded after a few seconds of hesitation, the man arranged the photographs that he had just spread out over Shane’s desk and inserted them into the folder before putting it to one side of Shane’s desk. He know that the man would need it for his briefing to the Field Marshall and Director.

    [4601 words]
    [Total WC: 12531 / 12500]


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      Current date/time is 9th December 2023, 10:48 pm