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1

"The separation that is inflicted upon our land today is something that causes many issues with our company's well-being also..."

Raptor stood behind the large podium on which several microphones were attached. Quite a large crowd was gathered in front of the platform on which he stood. Consisting of company workers, associates, and several wandering townsfolk that stopped by to listen, the crowd murmured quietly as Mr. Isthmus began what was recently put forth as an important company announcement.

The sky was painted a mild, blue-grey hue from the overcast cover of ruffled clouds that loomed above. The mountainside breeze brought the occasional chill to the awaiting folk. He continued,

"... as we are all much aware, we are all currently troubled by a certain political issue on which many of us become divided. As a business owner, it is my responsibility to ensure the fair treatment of every customer of Raptorco-"

"What a load of rubbish!" A crowd member shouted, drawing attention to himself, "you're nothin' but a bigoted liar. You 'aven't got no plans to be fair of anyone! We oughta-"

As the rioter continued, two large fellows grabbed him by the shoulders and proceeded to escort him out of the area as he kicked and shouted in protest. The crowd watched as he was dragged out, then slowly turned their attention back to the platform.

"...as I was saying," Raptor continued, "Raptorco has always been a company to provide adequate monster provision for all people of our fine land." Raptor paused for a short moment. "However, it is with regrets I must announce that starting today, Raptorco and associates will no longer be providing service to those who may be classified as rebels, antis, or disloyal to our established system."

Immediately some of the crowd began to stir about furiously. It soon escalated into a full-on riot. The crowd broke out into a mass of shouting, pushing, and brawling, as some began pushing towards the platform in fury. Raptor, without any sort of noticeable emotion, simply made hastily off the stage and into a nearby large SUV-esque vehicle, which he then used to speed away from the crowd before things got nasty.

After leaving the town, he soon made his way up the side of the nearby mountain, covered with a white layer of the coming winter season's icy grip. The heavily modified vehicle had relatively no trouble scaling the alpine terrain for quite some time until it reached a large, decorated steel gate. After the metal barriers creaked open, he made his way a bit further up and into the cobbled pathway of an immense castle. Built on the side near the peak of the colossal mountain, the enormous stone residence stood proudly and firmly upon the rocky land. The fortress was accompanied by several spires and turrets, which stood high in the grey sky.

Raptor parked the vehicle under a large garage opening and made his way into the inner parts of the castle. After strolling down a long hallway, he made his way into a large room. The room was dimly lit, with most of the apparent light coming from a lit fireplace on one wall of the room. In front of the fireplace sat a large sofa chair. All around the other walls of the room were bookshelves. Raptor never had time to read all of the books in the library, but they were part of his generous inheritance and added a nice feel to the room regardless. Having shed his large coat and thick wool hat, he sat in the plush chair. Just as he began relaxing and perhaps almost dozed off, a servant pet, Doris, popped into the room.

"Mr. Isthmus," she said, with some urgency, "your announcement has already made its way all over the news."

He replied, "Eh... don't bother me with them. The public is fickle and they'll settle down eventually."

"I don't think you understand," Doris insisted, "I really must insist you take a look."

"If you insist," Raptor grumbled as he sat up in the chair and grabbed a nearby television remote. He got the TV on, and flipped to the local news channel.

"Raptorco Outrage!" A reporter declared as the headline moved across the screen. "Citizens across the country have been put into a state of chaos which erupted over the owner of the company, Raptor Isthmus's, speech earlier today. The company's leader stated that service would no longer be provided to what they called 'rebels' and 'antis' which, as you may imagine, has made a huge impact on the already large economical tension in recent years. As Raptorco has been known for years now to be the main and essentially un-rivaled business in monster-related affairs, nobody yet knows to whom these citizens will turn for their service. Now to Pam for a discussion with bypassers."

The camera switched over to a quite generic-looking news woman. Next to her stood a tall, dark figure. The man had but one eye, and wore a visor of sorts. Resting on top of his head was a tall, wide brimmed hat. He wore a neckerchief around his neck that seemed to cover some sort of device attached to his head.

"What do you have to say about all of this, Mr..." the reporter hesitated, forgetting his name.

"Mavelus Soflini, ma'am," he stated in a thick drawl. "Honestly ma'am, to be blunt I coun't care less about some big shot money grabber like Raptorco. If they want to cut people like me outta their business, that's just less money in their pockets. In fact, I never wanted anything to do with them monopolizin' bastards."

"Mr. Soflini, I-" the reporter was cut off as Mavelus grabbed the mic.

"Ya hear that, Mr. Isthmus?" he taunted, "You and yer big fat corporate butt can kiss my ass! I bet yer too much of a pussy to come over here and stand up to me, and every one of us 'rebels' face to face. I dare you."

With that, Mavelus dropped the mic on the ground and walked away. At this point Raptor turned off the television. He slowly stood up from his chair, turned around, and looked at Doris.

"Doris, start up the vehicle," he said, "I must go to prove a point."

With that, Doris rushed off to the garage-area, as Raptor re-applied his garments and made his way out.

2

~ Meanwhile in Eastmill ~

"Why would you do that?" a young woman exclaimed as Mavelus walked into the modest home. "I know Raptor is being unreasonable, but threatening him like that was dangerous! You should know of all people!"

Mavelus replied, "Adamant, I understand the risk I've taken and I'm sorry to have involved you in it, but Raptor's bullshit has just gone way too far this time. I'm not afraid to stand up for my own morals, even against him."

"You're so stubborn!" Adamant protested, "We moved here so you could get away from that past, Mavelus. Let's try to keep it that way, please?"

Adamant calms down and moves over closer to Mavelus and puts her hand on his shoulder.

"I know you're angry, dear, but I'll help you get through this, alright?"

Mavelus remained silent. Just as he opened his mouth for a reply, they heard some noises outside. Looking out a nearby window, Mavelus spots a large SUV pulling into the front driveway.

"Speak of the Devil..." Mavelus spat.

Raptor stepped out of the vehicle, and after shedding a thick coat, moved to the front door. He knocked on it firmly several times.

"Mr. Soflini, I must speak to you about something."

"Get outta here, ya slimy dog!" Mavelus retorted. "We don't take to your kind here."

"Mavelus," Raptor stated, "you know it would be best you let me in. Lest I resort to other measures."

Knowing what this meant, and being reminded of Adamant's presence, Mavelus reluctantly opened the door. Raptor stepped inside.

"Is there a place we can speak privately?" Raptor muttered, glancing at Adamant.

"Well-" Mavelus was cut off.

Adamant interrupted, "And what exactly might you two be discussing that is oh-so-secretive?"

Raptor replied, "With all honesty, Mrs. Soflini, it is a matter that I hope you not be troubled. I would openly offer your involvement, but it really must be us alone."

Still slightly offended, Adamant reluctantly moved away into another part of the home. Raptor and Mavelus took seats in the living room.

"I would assume you probably already know what this is about," Raptor remarked.

"Well, actually Isthmus," Mavelus replied, with a slight roll of the eye, "I thought you just came here to ruff me up over the whole news shenanigans, but the way you're talkin' it seems like there's something else goin' on here."

"You are correct," Raptor confirmed. "I came here to do almost the opposite."

"You see," he continued, "obviously you are familiar with the recent policy change. In that way it should also be apparent that we're already going to lose a large number of sales-"

"Don't come blabbing to me about your company, Raptor. You know good and well that's long over," Mavelus interrupted.

"I never said anything about the issue."

"Er- I mean you've made it pretty obvious that this is some kinda big talk that'll get me back with your business. I know what you want. You need someone down-to-earth. Someone the people understand. I'm not an idiot, Raptor, I just kinda sound like one sometimes."

"Well if-"

"The answer is no, and I ain't budgin' on that."

Raptor glances down at the plate of food on the table. On the plate is some slightly stale crackers and a few slices of cheese.

He states, "Hard times here in Eastmill as usual I see. Y'know, I would love to know just why in hell someone even decided to start a farm town here."

Mavelus replies, "Now don't insult me on the snack platter. I'm wasn't exactly ready for company..." he paused, "...but yeah, cash is a little tight down here. Everyone's crops keep gettin' worse every season, but there's nowhere to go! To live anywhere else you gotta sell yer own damn arms and legs!"

Raptor urged, "It doesn't have to be like that, Mavelus! You, your wife, who knows, maybe even children someday? You can't pay for this much longer. Even with the current trouble at hand, you could do so much more. You were once my top guy, Mavelus. Who's to say it can't be that way again?"

"Yer the one that fired me in the first place, ya cheapskate! You lost a little investment on the folks and 'boom!' there goes everything. You're more worried about this than I know, Raptor. No matter how you come off politically all you are is a cheating bastard and a greedy pig! You forget I know where some of that money comes from Raptor, and by that I mean it's not honest business by any stretch."

"Well, it's clear that I'm getting nowhere with you right now. You're having one of your moods."

"MY moods?," Mavelus retorted bitterly, "why I oughta-"

"That won't be necessary. You're right. In all honesty I never needed you in the first place. I'll just leave you to your little dream here. Goodbye."

Almost as suddenly as he had gotten up Raptor moved toward the door and exited.

"...and good riddance..." Mavelus slammed the door behind him.

----

Mavelus returns to the living room and decompresses for a while, until it starts to get dark. While attempting to clear his mind with a little local news, his thoughts keep drifting back to what Raptor had told him. He had a point, no matter how little Mavelus wanted to admit it. Times were getting harder by the month at Eastmill, and there was no way they'd ever support themselves there any long amount of time more. He did know a way to get a quick buck, but he had told himself and Adamant that it wouldn't become a habit again. But there was no choice.

"Hey, Adamant?" Mavelus called.

She replied from another room, "What is it?"

"I'm gonna go get some groceries from the store. You want anything?"

"Why are you going just now?"

"Well, I woulda done it earlier, but I got hung up with Raptor. If I don't go now you won't have anythin for breakfast tomorrow."

"Well, alright. Just remember to get bread this time."

"Gotcha," Mavelus concluded as he hopped up, grabbed his keys and slipped out the door without a moment's notice.

Adamant walks into the room only to find him already gone.

"Hm... not even a hug? Sigh... sometimes I wonder what he's up to..."

3

A beaten pickup truck sputters into a parking spot with generally low accuracy, causing that annoying thing where you can't park next to someone only because they took up like 10% more of a sp- anyway, the Antimatter steps out of the truck and into a local casino.

Inside the place is relatively busy, but not packed. Around several tables are gathered local gamblers hoping to win big, others in front of slot machines, popping in their coins one by one and waiting for them to line up just right. Mavelus takes a seat at a newly started game and pulls up a newspaper and a few beers to pass the time while others show up. The front page only serves as another reminder of Raptor's shenanigans in Valleyforge. After Mavelus has read through a couple pages and already a bit buzzed, the dealer gives the call, Mavelus puts down the newspaper...

...only to see Raptor sitting right across from him. Raptor had already received several disgruntled looks from the locals, but Mavelus glared at him with a higher hostility. Not wanting to start a commotion, Raptor slipped him a note under the table.

"I know you came here to prove me wrong. That you don't need me to prosper.

Well, let's see if that really works out, then. If you manage to win this, I'll

pay the rest of the mortgage on your house, bills, and never bother again. However,

if I win, you have to pack your bags and come to work for my company again."

Now, a sober, un-agitated and clear-minded Mavelus would've immediately said no to this, however, this Mavelus was mad, intoxicated, and already in gambling fever, so in stubborn grudge he muttered to Raptor,

"You got a deal."

And so the game began...

Raptor gave the dealer a side glance and asked, "Deal us a simple round of hold them poker, if you would please."

The dealer at the table silently nodded and began shuffling the deck of cards. Raptor glanced back at Mavelus with the solid thwap of the cards.

"I don't want any funny business, now ya year Raptor?" Mavelus growled. "I know your type. I see any foul moves and the deal's off."

"Very well, Mr. Soflini," Raptor replied as he picked up his cards. Mavelus held his sight on Raptor for a few seconds, then did the same.

Upon picking up his cards, Mavelus surveyed his hand to reveal that he held an ace of clubs and an ace of hearts. He thought to himself "Oh please, I've got this in the bag already! Hello set for life!"

Raptor picked up his cards and simply raised an eyebrow. The dealer gave each of them a quick glance and flipped over the first card. It was a queen of diamonds. This was followed by an ace of spades, two of clubs, queen of diamonds, and ten of diamonds. The dealer, seemingly at a painfully slow rate, slipped the final card over to reveal an ace of diamonds.

Mavelus shot up out of his chair. "Yeehah! Beat that, dino boy!" he said as he revealed his two aces, giving him four of a kind. The odds of beating this hand are slim, but nevertheless Raptor simply scoffed at Mavelus, releasing his cards onto the table. Mavelus stopped celebrating for a moment to look at them.

Mavelus began observing the table as his glee turned to outrage, as he discovered Raptor's jack and king of diamonds, giving him a royal flush. 

Mavelus slammed his fists on the table, causing some cards to jostle all over the place. "You cheating bastard! What're the odds that you got the exact setup just in time to win this deal? One in a million, if that!"

Raptor looked up at Mavelus and replied, coldly, "And what does that matter to me?"

"What does it- what does it matter? You fuckin' dummy, you cheated! You lose! Now pay up!"

Out of nowhere, before Mavelus could react, Raptor quickly pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Mavelus.

"First of all, I had no manipulation of the cards whatsoever. It would just seem as though I got lucky. Second of all, if I had won or lost, we still would've come to this little... predicament." Raptor glanced up somewhere behind Mavelus, suddenly smirking.

Mavelus turned around to see where Raptor was looking only to be blinded by a powerful light. He attempts to stand up to flee, but something snapped in his head, and he flops to the ground, unconscious. A bulky Gridmask wearing a black uniform with red highlights steps towards Mavelus's unconscious form, smirking as well. He grabs Mavelus, managing to stuff him into a thick burlap sack.

"Good work as always. We're done here, comrades," Raptor announced as he pushed himself off from the table and stood up. He pulled out a large bag of gold from his coat and dropped it on the card table.

He concisely spoke, "Thank you for your co-operation," to the dealer and turned around, making his way out the now emptied casino, followed by his ensemble. They then piled into a large SUV and drove off into the setting sun.

----

Two figures standing on a hill watch the SUV drive off. One of them, a much more thinner gridmask, sits up. He grabs a radio out of his pocket.

"They have him," he speaks into the radio, quietly. "What's our orders? ...Sit back and watch?! What if they-... Yes sir... Yes sir, my apologies. Yes sir." The figure puts the radio away. "Damnit!! Sit back and watch..."

"We cannot be too hasty," The other figure, a much more larger one, says in a deep baritone. "If we do, we could very easily blow the commander's cover. We must sit back and watch."

"Yeah yeah, I hear you, Horst," the thinner figure says, quietly. Horst slowly nods.

"Of course. Let's return, Rudolph," Horst adds, climbing into the obscured jeep. Rudolph grunts, climbing in with him, before they both drive off.

4

Mavelus groans, quietly, waking up in a pitch black room. Several figures surrounded him, obscured by the blackness around him. He grunts, quickly noticing he was tied to a chair bolted to the floor.

"Oh, good, you're finally awake," Raptor's voice leers out from the darkness. Mavelus immediately starts struggling.

"You lyin' prick!!" Mavelus snarls, struggling.

"Oh, stuff it, Mavelus," Raptor's voice rings out again, as the tall figure draws closer, revealing himself. "I told you I didn't cheat."

"You woulda captured me anyways, ya lyin' cheat!!" Mavelus spits at him. Raptor grunts, drawing his rifle, rearing back, and smashing Mavelus in the side of the head with the butt of the rifle.

"And I said STUFF IT," Raptor snarls, bearing his fangs at him.

"You hit like a bitch," Mavelus growls, simply. Raptor promptly smashes him again, followed by another vicious blow.

"Do you want me to ensure they find your body in a gutter near the Inferno?" Raptor growls, loudly. "I can assure you, I can make that happen."

"What the hell are ya plannin'?!" Mavelus growls. Raptor scoffs.

"Plan? The same thing I have been planning for quite some time," Raptor says, turning away from him and holstering the rifle. "As you know, or at least thought you knew, I have full intent on controlling all of Ludus. What I'm most assured you don't know is HOW I plan on doing so. The answer... May surprise your simple mind."

"Yeah, I think I have a good idea, ya militarizin, monopolizin prick!" Mavelus growls.

"Military? Ha ha!" Raptor laughs. "That's only a part of the plan I have, little little man. Complete monopoly and control over all of Ludus. And believe you me, I'll accomplish it. In the mean time... You are now officially the rank of janitor of Raptorco."

"Like I'd work for you!" Mavelus spits.

"If you try to leave, you'll die," Raptor growls. "If you try to escape, you'll die. If you do anything I don't like? You'll die. Now, I really must be going. Do enjoy your new job." He grabs a remote, flipping a switch. Mavelus cries out as a hole opens in the floor underneath of him, sending him flopping down a large tube. He finally hits the ground, his chair breaking. He finds himself... In a janitor's closet...

"Bastard..." Mavelus growls, angrily.

~ A few days later... ~

Mavelus has been staying at Raptorco, under orders. He hasn't been allowed to return home... He sighs, quietly, sitting down in a small chair in a room. He missed Adamant so badly...

"Mavelus. Break time has commenced. Please stay within Valleyforge Area," His radio suddenly speaks in a monotone voice. Mavelus growls, sitting up. He leaves the building, getting checked out before he goes. He quietly wanders around the city, until coming upon an alleyway.

A figure pokes its head out of the alley, a bit surprised at who it saw. "Eh? EH!? MAVELUS SOFLINI?!" The figure, decidedly male, shouts. He suddenly rushes out towards Mavelus, rearing back and smashing him in the face.

"Who the fuck?!" Mavelus grunts, hardly phased from the blow. He draws his antimatter coltons, aiming them at the figure. It was a somewhat tall, bulky figure. Messy brown hair covered his head. His face had a noticably red, bloody scar running across his left eye vertically. "Gregor?!"

"Gregor?? What's going on??" A strange voice says. A short figure walks out. He had the appearance of a young man... Except for his face, which looked as if he were at least 60 years old. "Eh?? Mavelus??"

"Tox?? What the hell are ya doin with Gregor??" Mavelus grunts. Gregor just growls a bit. Tox shakes his head, smacking Gregor in the back of the head.

"Will you cease?!" Tox growls, angrily. "Ahem... Mavelus. Is that a Raptorco janitor uniform you're wearing?? Are you working with Raptorco again??"

"Hmph," Mavelus grunts, crossing his arms. "Can't talk."

"...Hm, follow us," Tox says, ushering him towards the alleyway.

"WHAT?!" Gregor shouts. "I don't want him around!! You know what he DID to me?!"

"He called you a lazy idiot," Tox says, turning towards Gregor and glaring a bit at him. "Which you are. Now silence."

Mavelus walks by, sneering a bit at Gregor. Gregor growls, angrily, following after him.

5

"So, I can only assume you're not exactly on... Good terms with this job," Tox says, quietly, as they enter a dark room. The room was somewhat scarcely furnished, only a few small chairs and a dirty sofa in the room. A fridge was sitting against the wall, making a quiet humming noise as it worked. A sink and a stove sat together nearby, and somewhat hastily done plumbing ran along the walls behind it. A side room contained a bathroom that was, thankfully, quite well cleansed. Mavelus grunts, flopping down on the dirty sofa. He's sure as hell lived in worse.

"Oh, ya think?" Mavelus grunts, crossing his arms. "No, I'm not. The bigwig motherfucker decided to kidnap me and force me into the job."

"Hm... I see..." Tox says, quietly, rubbing his beard.

"So what's yer story?? Why the hell are ya talkin to me?? Should I even be trustin you??" Mavelus asks, getting a bit defensive.

"Oh, fear not, Mavelus," Tox says, raising a hand. "Raptor fired me."

"He did??" Mavelus asks, curiously. "Huh... I bet Coh didn't take that well.

"He didn't," Tox says, quietly. "In case you're curious, I was relieved of duty for... Apparently poking into somewhere I didn't belong."

"Oh? Do tell, partner," Mavelus says, smirking a bit.

"Mavelus, do you plan on doing what I think you plan on doing?" Tox asks, simply.

"...Maybe," Mavelus says, simply. Tox gives him an unamused frown for a bit, before suddenly grinning.

"But of course," He says. "So... This facility outside of town. Really old place. I had stumbled upon it some time ago. And we found... Something strange. We really don't know, as there was quite the... Annoying sentry in the way."

"Sentry?" Mavelus asks, frowning.

"A guard, mind. Not a sentry weapon," Tox says, quietly. "Anyways, the sentry had... Quickly noticed me. He forcibly removed me, and informed Raptor of the events. Raptor was very displeased, and had fired me. He was even speaking of potentially getting me arrested. But I fled before anything could come of it. The only place I could find was Gregor's place. And despite my... Grievances with Gregor, I saw it fit that I had no choice but to work with him. Well, WITH is a strong word. More like, do everything for him when Waldo isn't around."

"Shut it!" Gregor snarls.

"Bite me," Tox replies, simply. "So... With that in mind, we managed to find the guard times for the sentry. They have a swap every once in a while. I'd say... Every four hours. In the middle of the night, around twelve or so, I can imagine you could sneak in while the swap is going on to find out something for yourself. Possibly something... Dangerous for Raptor."

Mavelus slowly smirks. "Oh, damn right I will. I got a few hours, and it's 10 pm right now."

"Well, you know what to do then!" Tox says, grinning a bit at Mavelus.

"Heheh, good seein ya again Tox," Mavelus says, patting him on the back.

"The feeling is mutual, friend," Tox replies, nodding slowly.

Mavelus nods, sitting back and relaxing. He'd worry about going there some time later. Until then, he had a bit of time to kill...

~ A few hours later... ~

Mavelus grunts, climbing over a hill. He spots what he presumed was the facility over the hill. A large, derelict building, covered with moss and what not from age. It was eerily dark inside... Good thing Mavelus has a flashlight. He notices nobody was at the front door. He quickly walks over, climbing in through a window and falling inside.

He starts to wander around the derelict facility. He soon comes upon a room that was... Not like the others. It actually looked cleaned and well maintained, as if people actually use the place.

"Huh... What the hell are they plannin'??" Mavelus mumbles to himself. He walks over to a table. A carelessly left behind puddle causes him to slip. He lands on the table, grunting as he feels something thin pierce into his neck. He grunts, jerking it out. It was a syringe? His eyes constrict a bit as he realizes... The fluid inside was injected into his neck...

"He... El... Hel..." He hears a voice start to fade into his head.

"Eh?? Who the hell??" Mavelus grunts, looking around.

"You... You can hear me??" The voice suddenly says, sounding clear and surprised.

"Who the hell are ya?!" Mavelus says, backing up and looking around.

"I... I can hear you! I can understand you!!" The voice adds, loudly. "Oh, oh, please, in the corner of the room! Help me!"

Mavelus frowns, looking over and spotting a cage. Inside, was a walker; colored a strange monochrome colored. It had a gel head, with big, beady eyes looking up at him. "Please! Open the cage! I can help you!" It says, sounding distinctively female.

"Uh... Okay... What's yer name??" Mavelus asks.

"The scientists here... They call me "Felina"," She says, quietly, as Mavelus opens the cage. She quickly hops out, landing on his shoulder.

"What the hell are they plannin'?" Mavelus asks, quietly.

"No idea..." She says. "They mumbled something about 'Fusion'... and they've been messing around with these needles everywhere."

"You haven't got pricked with any of 'em have ya??" Mavelus asks.

"Not that I know of... I feel just fine."

"Hm... Alright, if ya say so," Mavelus says, quietly.

"They're planning on torching this factory," Felina says, quietly. "They've taken all their notes out of here."

"Mh... So nothin's gonna be here, I guess," Mavelus says, softly.

"No, sorry," Felina says. "We should get out of here."

"HEY!! WHO'S THERE?!" A deep, angry voice shouts. A tall, imposing figure wearing black armor with red highlights storms into the room. "INTRUDERS!!"

"T-That's the sentry!!" Felina shouts, backing up. The guard doesn't seem to hear her, drawing a weapon and aiming it at Mavelus.

"Oh shit, oh shit oh shit oh shit," Mavelus grunts, rearing down to grab his revolvers.

"S-Scared, scared scared scared..." Felina mutters, her body shaking a bit. She suddenly starts glowing.

"Eh?!" Mavelus says, in shock, as she suddenly starts fusing with him. "What the hell?!"

"No! You didn't!!" The sentry shouts, backing up. "You didn't inject yourself with Felina's fusion counterpart!!"

Mavelus grunts, as Felina's body, now a mass of light, surrounds him. His arms get covered with long, sturdy, translucent fluid with ocean-colored highlights. His revolvers seem to glow, growing in his hands. His eyes start to glow vibrantly as well, in the same ocean color as the lines surrounding his body. The transformation soon stops. Mavelus felt even stronger than before...

"AH!! WHAT HAPPENED?!" Felina shouts, fearfully.

"I-I-I dunno!! You just fused with me!!" Mavelus shouts, looking around in stupor. "Argh! No time to worry!! We gotta take this guy down!!"

Mavelus grunts, drawing his revolvers again. He suddenly opens fire. Large, ocean colored blasts slam into the sentry, piercing his armor and killing him nearly instantly. "W-Woah!!" Mavelus shouts, shocked.

"W-Wow... You're really strong!" Felina says.

"I couldn't do this shit before, sweetums. Wow... You're great. Glad I found ya!" Mavelus says, smirking a bit.

"W-Wow! Really?? You like a little walker like me??" Felina asks, sheepishly.

"Yeah, I mean, look what power ya gave me!" He says, grinning. Felina grunts, quickly learning how to defuse herself. She flops down on the floor, smiling up at him. "Heh, come on, we gotta get outta here before anyone else comes snoopin' around."

She nods, happily hopping up on his shoulder again. Mavelus then leaves, starting the long trek back to Gregor's hideout...

6

Mavelus returns, but by the time he does so, Gregor and Tox were asleep. A note on the door said that they'd try to get into contact some other time. Mavelus quickly returns to the Raptorco building to sleep in the dormitories.

~ The next day... ~

Mavelus slowly sneers, as he walks into the workplace. Nobody questioned Felina on his back, as most of the other people there had pets... For some reason... Mavelus didn't think much of it, however, considering most people tended to have pets anyways.

Today was a meeting between the heads of Raptorco. What about, exactly, he had no idea. But he had every intention of crashing that party. With his insane, newfound power, he could snap that bastard Raptor like a twig! He sneers to himself, suddenly kicking the door open on the meeting room.

Raptor jerks out of his seat a bit. "W-What the hell are you doing in here?!" He shouts, narrowing his eyes at him. A figure dressed in a lavish black coat, outfitted with a purple plague doctor mask and orange hairwings also jerks up, in shock.

"E-Eh?! W-W-What's go-going on?!" The figure, named Coherine, shouts.

"Oh, you'd be surprised what I found last night!" Mavelus growls, sneering at him.

"W-What?! YOU were the one who raided that facility?!" Raptor snarls, angrily.

"Damn right! And I found me somethin' mighty fine there!" He growls back, nodding. "Felina, hit it!!"

Felina nods, and quickly fuses together with Mavelus. Raptor quietly calms down, narrowing his eyes as Mavelus suddenly leaps at him. Raptor doesn't flinch...

As a figure suddenly swoops down, slamming into Mavelus and knocking him into a wall. Mavelus grunts, trying to get up, but a powerful beam of energy strikes him, stunning him in place.

"Ahahahaha, I have to admit, I'm impressed!" Raptor says, clapping slowly. "In such a short time span, you've already learned how to fuse with your pet. So it's pretty obvious this little set up won't work. So how about this!" He says, slowly approaching him. The figure who attacked Mavelus lands nearby. Mavelus was shocked; It was Coherine!! And he was fused with a avian-like pet as well! Was this a common occurrence?!

"We'll play a... Different game." Raptor growls, lowering down towards Mavelus' level. "I'm pretty much done with this little facade as well. So here's a new game for you. Cat and mouse. I'm the cat, you're the mouse. And I have all sorts of friends with me as well," He says, sneering. "Do you think you can fight against all of us?? No. You can't. I'll just answer that for you. So I'll be nice enough and give you a head-start!!" He suddenly grabs Mavelus by the throat, surprisingly able to lift him up easily. He carries him to a large window, suddenly smashing it open. "Have fun, Mavelus. Let's see how long you can stay alive." He suddenly rears back and throws Mavelus out the window...

~ Some time later... ~

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE UUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!!!!" A loud voice screams. Mavelus jerks up, unintentionally headbutting Gregor right in the face, and knocking him backwards. "OW!!"

"Wh-What the hell happened?!" Mavelus shouts, looking around. He was back in Gregor's hideout, it seemed.

"We saw you fall out of Raptor's skyscraper," Tox's voice rings out, suddenly. "We brought you here... But unfortunately, we have a feeling Raptor is hunting us down... We need to get out of here, and now."

"Got any ideas??" Mavelus inquires, quickly getting up. He was a little sore, but he'd be better tomorrow.

"Yes," Tox says, slowly nodding. "Despite what you may think, I can easily get Coherine on our side. He could also explain this strange ordeal involving the pet fusions you wrote on the note."

"Right... If ya can convince him," Mavelus grunts.

"I'm almost certain I can," Tox says, nodding determinedly. "But come on, we must hurry."

Mavelus nods, and the three of them quickly charge into a small, dirty garage, where a car sat in wait.

"Wait! Where's Waldo!?" Gregor suddenly shouts.

"He'll be fine," Tox replies, quietly, grabbing the keys. "Mavelus, you drive."

Mavelus nods, catching the keys and quickly firing the small sedan up. He drives through the garage door, smashing through it and charging off down the street. "Where to??" Mavelus asks.

"Just drive. I'll get into contact with Coherine," Tox says, quietly.

"I'm goin ta eastmill," Mavelus grunts.

"W-What?! Why?!" Tox asks, bewildered.

"I'm gettin Adamant!" Mavelus replies, flooring the pedal and speeding off down the street.

~ Meanwhile... ~

Rudolph sat on top of a building. His body could be much more easily seen in the daylight. A thin frame covered by a black army uniform, and matching metal helmet suited him. Wires of dark colors ran into his neck. His cold, blue eyes stare into the binoculars, watching the speeding car drive away. He quickly produces his radio.

"This is Rudolph. Sir, he's heading towards Eastmill. What are my orders?" Rudolph asks. "...Mhm... Roger. Roger that." He quickly puts the radio back away.

The bear of a man standing behind him, in the large, tan-brown coat nods slowly. His black helmet barely contained a messy, unkempt mop of hair. He steps towards Rudolph, his brown combat boots making a thick stepping sound as he does so. His bright green eyes quietly scan his cohort. "What's our orders?" He asks, simply.

"We're gonna follow Mavelus," Rudolph replies, nodding up at him. "The boss is half certain he's headed to Eastmill to grab his sweetheart."

"Hm. Right," Horst says, reaching up and rubbing the stubble of brown hair on his chin. The duo quickly take their leave...

7

The sedan comes to a screeching halt outside of the dinky house that was formerly his residence. A bewildered Adamant steps outside. She seemed as if she hadn't been sleeping too well as of recent.

"What on Ludus is going on?!" She says, frowning as Mavelus quickly gets out of the car. "M-Mavelus!!"

"Hon, we ain't got much time, get in the car!" Mavelus says, quickly ushering her to the sedan.

"W-Wait, what?? What's going on? Why are you in the news??" She asks, struggling a bit.

"I'll explain later!" Mavelus replies, quickly pushing her into the back seat. He quickly jumps back inside, doing a quick burnout with the sedan to make a quick u-turn.

"You know that'll kill the clutch, right?" Tox says, looking fairly unimpressed with the stunt

"Oh stuff it," Mavelus replies. "We ain't got time to be safe."

"Right right right," Tox says, sighing and shaking his head. "So on the way there, I got into contact with Coherine. He managed to set us up a safehouse in southern Valleyforge. That's where we'll go."

"Ya SURE you can trust him, Tox?" Mavelus asks, looking towards him seriously.

"Definitely," Tox replies, flatly. "Just stay calm."

Mavelus just sighs, going quiet for the trip back to Valleyforge. He's soon knocked out of this when he spots what seems to be a military jeep driving towards them. "Uh oh... That ain't good," Mavelus says.

"Floor it!!" Tox says, bracing himself.

Mavelus obliges, flooring the gas and shooting past the jeep. The jeep quickly spins around, driving after them.

"THEY'RE CHASING US! THEY'RE CHASING US!!" Gregor shouts.

"I KNOW, STUFF IT!!" Mavelus shouts right back at him, angrily. "Ah, damnit all! This sedan ain't as good for this dirt road as that jeep is!"

Gregor suddenly screams as a shot rings out. It pierces a back tire, causing the car to start to fishtail. The tire quickly gets ripped off of the wheel itself, which didn't help in the slightest. Another shot quickly pierces the other back tire, and the jeep quickly started to gain on them.

"OH SWEET DEUS ABOVE WE'RE GONNA DIE WE'RE GONNA DIE WE'RE GONNA DIIIEEEE!!" Gregor shouts, before quickly receiving a smack from Adamant. The jeep quickly pulls up to their side. Mavelus attempts to ram it, but it quickly rams them right back, pushing the jeep further away. A big fellow in a brown coat was driving, while a smaller one with a dark gray uniform armed with a rifle was peering out through a hole in the roof, aiming towards the sedan. Another shot rings out, piercing through the sedan's engine.

"Ah, fuck it all..." Mavelus grunts, as the sedan quickly starts to slow down as a result. "Alright... I saw two guys. We're gonna have ta fight em off."

"Two military-trained guys!" Tox adds, simply. "Rgh, and we only have two people who can actually fight. I'm not really much of a fighter..."

"Shit," Mavelus says, shaking his head.

"GET OUT OF THE CAR!" A voice shouts from the jeep. "KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!"

"Mavelus, please, don't do it! All you'll do is get yourself killed!" Adamant pleads, desperately.

"COME ON, MAVELUS! YOU AND YOUR ENTOURAGE ARE COMING WITH US!" The voice shouts again.

Mavelus sighs, quietly climbing out of the jeep. Everyone else soon follows, keeping their hands up. The thinner figure approaches Mavelus, keeping his rifle trained on him. He quickly reaches down and takes away Mavelus' coltons, before lowering the rifle.

"Into the jeep," He says, simply, pointing to it. Mavelus quietly climbs inside, along with the others. The soldier nods, quickly producing his radio. "Boss? Change of plans. We had to capture Mavelus directly. Yes. Yes, I know. Right. I'll bring him right to you, sir. Yes sir." He puts the radio away. "Alright, Horst, let's get back to the base." Horst slowly nods, and Rudolph quickly climbs back into the jeep.

"Horst?" Mavelus says, frowning.

"That's the big guy. He's Horst Waltz. I'm Rudolph Grenze," Rudolph says, quietly. "Now I already know what you're thinking. No. We are not your enemy."

"Eh??" Gregor says, frowning. "Why'd you capture us then??"

"To give Raptor a show," Rudolph says, simply. "He's watching all of us as we speak."

"Mh... So what does yer boss want with us?" Mavelus asks, quietly.

"Tell me, Mavelus, do you recall those strange fax papers you keep getting?" Rudolph suddenly asks, ignoring the question.

"Uh... Yeah... Why?" Mavelus replies, frowning a bit. A bunch of strange fax papers constantly sent by an unknown, untraceable call. It detailed all sorts of strange events, seemingly within Raptorco. Mostly stuff like base locations and meetings, but there was an odd thing or two here and there, such as a "potential plan involving the monsters". Mavelus kept them, but didn't think too much of it, thinking it was just some nut... Kind of like him.

"Those were from our boss," Rudolph replies, simply.

"What?? Who's yer boss, then??" Mavelus asks, sounding a bit bewildered.

"Zogenand Silt," Rudolph answers, quietly.

"Owner of that PMC in that prick Raptor's pocket?" Mavelus asks, tilting his head a bit. "Why the hell is he helpin' me? He's havin' enough fun stepping on poor people's shoes, ain't he??"

Rudolph immediately gives Mavelus an angry glare. "Do NOT talk about the commander that way!" Rudolph growls. "He's a hell of a lot more respectable than THAT."

"Then explain, a year ago, during the riots in Eastmill, why the hell did his soldiers suddenly gun all those peaceful protesters down?" Mavelus grunts, simply. "That ain't somethin a respectable commander would do."

"He didn't give those orders!" Rudolph shouts. "We don't know who the hell gave those orders! I wasn't there when it happened, but the troops who did it never showed back up to base after that."

"Hm... So ya think another PMC is out there?" Mavelus suddenly asks.

"That's a very distinct possibility," Rudolph grunts, quietly. "There's no way in hell Zogenand would order such a large scale massacre. He always attempts to find the peaceful solution to problems."

"Nothin' I know about, unfortunately," Mavelus says, quietly.

"Either way," Rudolph says, simply. He suddenly turns towards the group. "When we get there, first thing's first, you're going straight to the boss himself. Don't do anything stupid or disrespectful. Got me??"

"Yeah yeah," Mavelus says, rolling his eyes.

"That's "Yes sir!" to you," Rudolph replies, simply.

"You're a lieutenant. You're hardly anything to say "Yes Sir" to," Tox suddenly says. Rudolph just sputters a bit.

"C-Can it!" He quickly manages to spit out. "I'll have you know I'm one of Zogenand's most trusted soldiers!"

"Uh huh, then why aren't ya a higher rank??" Mavelus asks, simply.

"By choice!" He spits out.

"Then what'd ya do that was 'so special'?" Mavelus asks, rolling his eyes a bit. Rudolph turns towards them, glaring a bit and suddenly grabbing his collar, pulling it downwards. Everyone quickly flinches at the sight of metallic wires running to and from his neck. "W-What the hell?!" Mavelus quickly shouts, backing up.

"Six years ago," Rudolph grunts, simply. "Ever heard of 'Eye of the Storm'?"

"Uh... Faintly. Heard they were a buncha wackos who attacked Raptorco repeatedly," Mavelus says, simply.

"Six years ago, we raided their main base," Rudolph says, simply. "They were a threat not only to Raptorco, but to citizen security itself. We attacked their underground base and managed to cripple the group for good. But in our combat, we had damaged a large boiler overlooking a railway. Zogenand didn't notice the boiler, and was standing next to it. I rushed to his aid, pushing him out of the way before the boiler exploded and threw me right over the edge. I'm amazed I didn't die. I nearly did. My whole body was completely shattered from not only the explosion, but the fall itself. Zogenand paid money out of his own pocket to save my life, in return for me saving his. I swore my life to him that day, and I have every intention on holding true to that swear."

"Huh... Wow..." Mavelus says, stupefied.

"Got any more questions?" Rudolph asks, gruffly.

"Uh... No sir..." Mavelus says, quietly. Rudolph nods, quietly. And so, they make their way to the base, which turned out to be located deep within the Snowfield area...

8

~ A few hours later... ~

It was getting fairly dark by the time they finally arrived at the snow-covered base, located deep within the snowfield series. The base was set up near the west side of the Frozen Lake. It was quite the formidable base, being particularly large. Thick gray walls surrounded the base, with multiple "KEEP OUT" signs dotted around the perimeter. Large towers with searchlights overlooked the landscape surrounding the base. One soon locks onto the jeep Mavelus and company were in, but soon diverts away. The jeep pulls up to the large, metal gate, which slowly opens. The car drives into a large parking lot outside of the base, before finally stopping.

"Alright, out you go," Rudolph says, climbing out of the car. The group start pouring out of the car, quickly starting to shiver due to their lack of appropriate attire. Rudolph and Horst don't seem fazed in the slightest by the cold, simply leading them inside.

"G-G-Geez, ya sta-stay in this sh-shithole??" Mavlus asks, teeth chattering. Rudolph gives him an annoyed glare.

"This 'shithole' is our primary HQ, and the largest in the country," Rudolph replies, coldly.

"W-W-Why do ya stay in s-such a cold a-ass place?" Mavelus then adds.

"Because it's out of the way. Nobody hardly comes here," Rudolph replies, simply. "It's warmer inside. So quit being a baby and move."

The group quickly start filing into the base, which was thankfully much warmer. The walls were made of thick, gray stone, seemingly quite well preserved. The duo leads the group through a semi large portion of the base, letting them see all sorts of sights, such as a firing range, a large mess hall, and some officer areas. Before long, they head back outside towards the center of the base, finding a semi large house located smack dab in the middle of the base.

"Here he is," Rudolph says, flatly. "In you go."

The group slowly head into the large house. The walls were made of similar stone to the rest of the base, though colored brown instead of gray. The floor was made from seemingly expensive, thick wood. The house was rather lavishly furnished, with a few bedrooms and restrooms, and a large dining hall.

"Wow, he lives good life, don't he?" Mavelus asks, looking around the large house.

"Hm, quite," Tox adds, softly. "This looks like something you'd see Raptor live in..."

The group finally heads into a large office near the back of the house. A fireplace sat behind a small desk, behind which a tall figure stood. He had to have been at least as tall as Horst, though he possessed a much more lithe frame compared to his cohort. Wearing a bright yellow officer uniform outfitted with multiple badges and medals. The figure stood facing away from them. A white officer cap sat atop his gray-haired head. His arms were behind his back, and he was seemingly staring out of a window. He slowly turns to the group, revealing his face. A thick, statuesque face met the group's stares, covered with a thick, white beard. He slowly nods.

"I see they finally arrive," He says, his voice a thick baritone. Rudolph and Horst both salute him.

"Yes, commander, we brought them right here," Rudolph adds. "Unfortunate circumstances involving Raptor forced us to take action sooner."

"Yes, yes, I'm aware. At ease," The commander says, simply. He steps from behind the desk, approaching the group. "Mavelus Soflini. We finally meet in person."

"U-Uh... Yes sir," Mavelus stutters, nervously. The commander smiles at him.

"Come now, no need to be bashful," He says, extending a hand towards Mavelus. "Zogenand Silt."

"Y-Ya already know my name, eheh," Mavelus says, accepting the handshake and returning it firmly.

"I'm Toxicrebound Marttel, sir," Tox says, softly. "That sulking figure over there is Gregor. The lady friend of Mavelus' is Adamant Ensan Soflini. And that pet is... Uh... Actually, I never really did catch her name."

"F-Felina," Felina says, softly, to which nobody reacts except for Mavelus.

"U-Uh, her name is Felina," Mavelus speaks for her, nodding.

"Hm... Felina? Interesting... She was a lab-grown pet, wasn't she?" Zogenand says, inspecting her quietly while the timid walker simply shrinks away from him.

"I dunno, was she?" Mavelus asks, curiously.

"That's what I read from the reports," Zogenand says, nodding a bit. "Hm... Either way. I would love to continue this, but, Raptor is demanding bodies."

"E-Eh??" Mavelus says, backing up nervously.

"Relax, relax, you're going to be just fine," Zogenand says, raising his arms a bit. "We need to give Raptor a show to make him think you, and the rest of you, are dead."

"Uh... R-Right... How so?" Tox asks, sighing a bit with relief.

"Come, we don't have much time. Word's already gotten out that you're here," Zogenand says, quickly starting to make his way out. "He'll be here within the hour. We're going to set up a fake firing range."

"Uh... Do ya got decoys?" Mavelus asks, following after him.

"No. But we do have rubber bullets and packets of fake blood," Zogenand replies, simply. "So... This is going to hurt. Quite a bit. But we have to do this to give Raptor fake bodies. Make SURE you play dead after you get shot. Understood??"

"Yes sir," Everyone quickly adds. Zogenand nods, slowly.

"Then let's go," He says.

9

The group was tied up and blindfolded against a wall. A large wall of soldiers sat in front of them, all armed with rifles. Raptor soon makes his entrance, solemnly approaching the firing squad. He gives an evil smirk.

"Hmhmh, I had a feeling you would capture him easily," He says, coldly, while stepping towards Zogenand.

"But of course," Zogenand says, simply. "I've caught worse than a redneck Antimatter and his entourage."

"Good. Quite honestly, I should have brought a camera," Raptor says, slowly turning back towards the execution. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

"Mhm... Yeah..." Zogenand says, quietly, turning back towards the execution himself.

A tall officer wearing a black uniform with red highlights approaches the firing squad. A thick pair of blue sunglasses covered his dark eyes. He slowly raises his arm.

"READY!" He shouts, loudly. "FIRE!"

The firing squad opens fire.

Mavelus grits his teeth as the rubber bullets start pounding into them. Thankfully the darkness of the night obscured the rubber bullets landing in the snow in front of the range. He could feel the packets of fake blood burst open as the bullets connected, drenching their white-uniforms with the stuff. They all quickly go limp.

"CEASE!" The officer shouts, raising an arm. "That's a wrap!"

"Hmhmhmhm," Raptor chuckles to himself. "What of the pet Mavelus had?"

"Escaped into the woods," Zogenand says. "We have a team searching for it, but the darkness combined with the woods surrounding the base is making that... Difficult."

"Well, find her," Raptor growls. "That pet is worth far more than you'd expect!"

"Of course," Zogenand says, quietly.

"I'm taking my leave," Raptor grunts, turning and starting to walk away. By this point, the soldiers had started to drag the "bodies" away, towards the forest. Among the soldiers in the firing squad was Rudolph, obviously.

"Just keep quiet..." He whispers to Mavelus, grunting with the effort of dragging his heavy body. "Damn, you're a heavy one..."

Meanwhile, the officer who gave the order to fire approaches Zogenand.

"Hmph. About time we wiped those blights out," He grunts, simply, as he approaches.

"Relax, Grunmar," Zogenand replies, calmly. "Escort Raptor back to his castle."

"Yes, yes, of course," Grunmar grumbles, following after Raptor. Zogenand sighs, looking towards the sight. He doesn't notice Grunmar look back towards him, eyeing him for a second, before walking off.

Back in the woods, Rudolph and the soldiers soon stop dragging the bodies. "Alright, wait for the boss," Rudolph says, to which the other soldiers quietly nod. A few minutes later, Zogenand's voice comes from Rudolph's radio.

"He's gone," Zogenand says, flatly. Rudolph nods.

"Alright, fellas, get up," Rudolph says. Mavelus and the others grunt, getting up.

"That... Really... Hurt..." Gregor says, taking off his blindfold. Unfortunately, the soldier firing at him had struck him... Quite a few times in the face, leaving painful welts on him.

"Yeah yeah, get over it," Rudolph says, grunting a bit. "Alright. Head back to base. You'll be staying in the boss' house. Don't muss it up!"

"Eh? Why the great hospitality?" Mavelus asks, curiously.

"Raptor doesn't go in there, at all," Rudolph says. "Only rarely. And when he does, he just heads into the dining hall. So he's simple to avoid."

"Hm... Got it," Mavelus says, nodding slowly.

The group slowly returns to the base...

~ Some time later... ~

Mavelus grunts as he and the others march towards Zogenand's office.

"This is a bad idea," Tox says, as they walk.

"Don't care," Mavelus says, in a cold, quiet tone.

"A VERY bad idea," Adamant adds, quietly.

"Can't deny," Mavelus replies, flatly.

"Then why are you doing it??" Adamant asks, frowning at him.

"Because I'm takin that fatcat motherfucker down," Mavelus growls, coldly.

The group quickly barges into the office. Zogenand frowns a bit at the group as they make a quick entrance.

"I'm sorry, I enjoy talking to you, but not you barging into my office," Zogenand says, sounding slightly vexed.

"I'm takin that prick Raptor down," Mavelus grunts, getting straight to the point. Zogenand sighs.

"Somehow I had a feeling you'd bring that up..." He mumbles. "So I suppose talking you down is out of the question."

"Damn right," Mavelus replies, flatly.

"So tell me, how do you plan on doing this?" Zogenand then asks, looking back towards him.

"We have a military base, don't we?" Mavelus asks.

"That's technically allied with Raptor," Zogenand replies, frowning back at him. "You know I hate Raptor as well, but we can't just betray and open fire on him."

"Why not?" Mavelus asks.

"Wh... Why not?? I don't know, Mavelus, does that sound like a tactful decision to you??" Zogenand asks, sounding bewildered.

"I dunno," He says.

"No! It isn't!" Zogenand says, shaking his head. "Use your head. All that'll do is draw attention to all of us!"

"What can he do?" Mavelus asks.

"You've heard about that other PMC he might have, haven't you??" Zogenand asks.

"That's... Partially true," Mavelus says. "It's just a rumor."

"A rumor we can't take any chances on," Tox adds, suddenly. "If he does, they could really screw us up if we're not planned for them."

"Then what're we gonna do??" Mavelus asks, sounding vexed.

"Ever heard of guerrilla warfare?" Zogenand asks.

"Eh?"

"Small groups of forces attacking the ankles of bigger foes to deal damage to them," Zogenand explains, simply. "There are ways to do this. While finding out information about our enemy forces."

"I see... How can we do it?" Mavelus asks, grinning a bit.

"I know the location of several of Raptorco's... Buildings," Zogenand says, nodding slowly. "We send a small group of unmakred soldiers after them. We take them down, weaken them, and learn about more of their forces. Once we gauge their threat, we can worry about larger scale operations."

"Heh... Sounds good," Mavelus says, nodding approvingly.

"But not tonight," He says. "Right now, we need to work out plans. You all go get some rest."

"Yes sir," Mavelus says, nodding. They turn and leave. Zogenand sighs, leaning back in his chair and grinning a bit. Finally... An opportunity... And with them, he could easily avoid the blame for the attacks. And finally a chance to damage this corrupt business... He slowly sighs, sitting up. He'd have to get ready... Tomorrow was going to be a big day.

10

~ The next morning... ~

Mavelus, with Felina on his shoulder, quickly makes his way to Zogenand's office. The others stayed back, most of them getting ready for whatever it was Zogenand had planned. Mavelus quietly pushes his way into the lavishly decorated office. Zogenand, clearly expecting him, turns towards him.

"Good morning. Sleep well?" He asks, simply.

"Hardly," Mavelus replies, flatly. "The excitement kept me awake." Zogenand just shakes his head.

"Typical..." He mumbles. "Anyways, we have a means of starting this little "rebellion" off slowly. Pull up the projector."

A nearby officer nods, quickly flipping the switch on a projector nearby. The image of a map of what seemed to be the landscape near the desert quickly pops into view.

"Located near the oasis is a small lab," Zogenand proceeds, grabbing a small metal pointer and tapping the projected image with it. The projector flips, showing an overhead picture of what seemed to be a building. "Located approximately seven miles to the north of the oasis. The inner workings of this lab are unknown. Spies have taken note that several trucks, similar in marking to our own, have been spotted leaving and exiting the area. I never gave the order for trucks to even be situated in that lab."

"Proof of another PMC, obviously," Mavelus adds, sitting back in his chair.

"As if there were any doubt," Zogenand replies. "Anyways, we're going to send a small guerrilla unit to the lab. Which, of course, includes you. Your mission is to investigate this lab, see what you can find, and gauge enemy forces."

"And burn the lab down, I assume," Mavelus says, simply.

"No," Zogenand snaps, turning towards him. "We need the lab to stay afloat. Burning it down will just raise undue attention."

"And a guerrilla unit suddenly storming in, stealin stuff, and leaving won't?" Mavelus adds.

"At the very least, we won't seem like terrorists by doing that," Zogenand adds. "Speaking of which, obviously, don't engage any civilians you see. Don't deal undue collateral damage. Do not-"

"We get it, Z," Mavelus adds. "We're just goin in there to get information and get out."

"Exactly," Zogenand says, nodding. "Even if you don't engage enemies to begin with, that's fine."

"So basically we should only send about one or two people," Mavelus adds. "Reduce chances of being spotted. Wait... Wouldn't a better idea be send two of your guys there and go check it out?? If they do somethin aggressive, that's awful suspicious."

"Possibly..." Zogenand says, quietly. "We should do that, actually. I'll get Rudolph and Horst on the job."

"Hm. Right..." Mavelus mumbles, softly.

"You'll get your chance, Mavelus. But we have to play this smart," Zogenand says, nodding slowly.

"If ya say so..." Mavelus says.

"Right. In a little bit I'll send the two there," Zogenand says. "This meeting is dismissed."

~ Some time later... ~

"I don't like this," Rudolph mumbles, as they drive towards the base. "Something seems inherently wrong with this. Jeeps marked with our tags, even though the commander never gave any orders to be there??"

"Hm. Something does seem amiss," Horst replies, quietly, staring straight ahead. "We'll get to the bottom of it either way."

~ At the lab... ~

"I see two of his goons coming this way," A cold voice says. A figure was observing the jeep driving towards them. "What are our orders?"

"Deal with them," A familiar voice says, coldly. "You find out how."

"Yes sir," The figure replies, hanging up.

The jeep comes to a stop in front of the lab. Rudolph and Horst both climb out, stepping towards the facility. Rudolph held a warrant in his hand, given to him by Zogenand himself. Two soldiers dressed in similar uniforms to Zogenand's troops guarded the front doorway. Rudolph immediately steps towards them.

"Zogenand's orders, let us in," Rudolph says.

"Zogenand's orders, nobody comes in without authorization," A soldier replies. Rudolph coldly raises the warrant.

"Zogenand's orders, let us in," Rudolph repeats, coldly. The soldiers look at each other, before quietly stepping aside. The duo quickly head inside, not noticing one of the soldiers quickly grabbing a radio.

"They're in," He says, quietly.

"I'm on my way. Hold them up," The voice on the other side replies, coldly. The soldier nods. Both of them turn towards the doorway, opening it and raising their weapons. Horst immediately whips towards them, his own weapon drawn.

"Drop your weapon!" Horst orders, gruffly.

"We have the advantage," A soldier says, coldly. The two look around, finding soldiers standing all around them, armed and brandishing their rifles.

"What's the meaning of this?! These are ZOGENAND'S orders!!" Rudolph shouts, narrowing his eyes at them.

"Zogenand isn't our boss," A soldier says, coldly.

"What?! Who is?!" Rudolph replies, backing up.

"I am," A cold voice says, right behind them. Horst suddenly lets out a grunt as a vicious blow hits him in the back of the head. Rudolph turns towards the figure, brandishing his rifle, but the figure grabs the rifle, ripping it out of Rudolph's grip before smashing him in the side of the head with it, knocking him flat. Horst growls, trying to get up, but the figure quickly delivers another blow, knocking Horst out cold. The figure, dressed in familiar black garbs, quietly nods, pulling his radio. "They're detained."

"Keep them there, and eliminate them shortly," The voice on the other side says.

"What of Zogenand?" The voice adds.

"Zogenand will fall in line," The other voice replies, flatly. "Good work as usual, Grunmar. Return to my castle at once."

"Of course, sir," Grunmar says, putting the radio in his pocket.

~ Outside... ~

Mavelus, who had managed to hide in the back of the jeep, quietly peers out. Just as he thought, those soldiers had taken Rudolph and Horst captive... He quickly ducks, as another, solid-black jeep drives away from the base, suddenly.

"...W-What do we do?" Felina, who was hiding with Mavelus, asks suddenly.

"We're gonna save Horst and Rudolph, obviously," Mavelus adds. "These bastards aren't with Z, just like we thought..."

"B-But... We can't do that by ourselves!" Felina mumbles, fearfully.

"I don't appreciate that kinda negativity," Mavelus replies, simply. "Come on."

He drops out of the truck, already brandishing his coltons. Felina quickly fuses with him, and Mavelus opens fire, taking out the two door guards. He quickly kicks in the doorway, knocking away another guard who was unlucky to be in his way. Seems Felina also boosted his physical strength a bit. Wonderful.

"Intruder!!" A soldier says, backing up.

"He's here for the prisoners!" Another shouts, before Mavelus opens fire and drops him. He quickly starts rushing into a back room, avoiding shots from nearby guards as he goes. He grunts, keeping his revolvers brandished as he kneels near the door. His head jerks up as he hears muffled grunting from nearby. He jerks around.

Rudolph was tied to a nearby chair, his mouth covered up. Horst sat next to him, only he was absolutely covered in rope, for obvious reasons. Mavelus grins a bit.

"Oh, well there you two are," He says, stepping towards Rudolph. Rudolph was shaking in the chair, shaking his head vigorously at Mavelus for some reason. "Eh? What??"

A figure suddenly jerks up from behind Horst, rearing back and smashing Mavelus in the head with the butt of his rifle. Mavelus staggers back, sputtering a bit.

"Oh, what, that's the best ya got??" Mavelus grunts, suddenly opening fire and dropping the soldier. "Prick."

He quickly makes his way to Rudolph, untying him and letting him free.

"Man... I won't even ask how you got here," Rudolph says, shaking his head. "Just like we suspected... These aren't the commander's troops..."

"Yeah, well, we'll bring that up with Z when we get back," Mavelus says. "Untie the big man and let's get outta here!" Mavelus notices something sitting on a table nearby. Some files... Mavelus grabs them, sticking them in a pack he had with him. Horst grunts, suddenly breaking the remaining ropes after Rudolph unties him.

"They're in here!" A voice shouts.

"We got company!" Mavelus grunts, drawing his revolvers again.

A beeping noise could be heard. The door suddenly blows open in a small explosion. Horst almost immediately opens fire with his own minigun, tearing down the troops as they come charging in. Rudolph sat nearby, picking off any stragglers that managed to make it through the hail of bullets. Before long, things go quiet once again. Rudolph breaths a sigh of relief, before taking note of a few of the dead soldiers.

"Man... Look at these uniforms," Rudolph says, suddenly, pointing them out. Most of them wore the same uniforms as Zogenand's troops, but others wore a pitched black uniform, completely unlike the other. "I've never seen the commander's soldiers wear THAT."

"Hm... That one who took us down... You saw him, right?" Horst inquires, suddenly.

"No, sadly," Rudolph says. "I just barely got a look at him. He knocked me out before I could get a better look. I know he wore a black uniform like these guys, though. He said he was their commander..."

"Maybe these files'll have somethin'," Mavelus says, quietly. "We need to get outta here before more guys show up."

Rudolph nods, and they quickly escape to their jeep, driving away from the desert base...

11

~ Some time later... ~

The jeep pulls up, coming to a screeching halt rather awkwardly outside of the base. Several guards frown at the sight, until Mavelus climbs out, revealing himself and the others. They quickly push past the guards.

"Wow... Talk about bad parking," A guard quips, looking back towards the jeep and how it was awkwardly sitting in the middle of the driveway.

~ Meanwhile... ~

Mavelus pushes his way into the central office, startling the others inside.

"Mavelus?! Where in mother Ludus did you go??" Tox asks, surprised.

"Hitched a ride with Horst and Rudolph," Mavelus replies, simply.

"W-What? Why??" Adamant asks, looking worried. "You had us worried sick!"

"Sorry, sweetie," Mavelus replies. "My hunch was dead on right, though. Them bastards ain't with Z at all. Rudolph and Horst nearly bit the bullet."

"Yeah," Rudolph confirms, nodding. "If it weren't for Mavelus, we wouldn't be here right now. We need to speak with the commander either way."

The others nod, quickly getting up and making their way into Zogenand's office. Zogenand frowns as they quickly pile in.

"I assume things went poorly," He says, not missing a beat.

"Damn right," Mavelus grunts, nodding. "Them bastards nearly killed the two of em. If it weren't for me stowing away in their jeep, they probably would've."

"Hm... I feared that," Zogenand grunts, sitting up. "Alright. While you were gone, I had Gregor do some work." Mavelus stares at him, incredulously.

"Gregor? Doing work?" He asks, dumbfounded. Zogenand rolls his eyes a bit.

"Yes," He replies, flatly. "He's actually quite a talented hacker. He managed to work his way into a database of Raptorco and learn about four large bases, and their commanders." Mavelus quietly crosses his arms.

"Not your bases, I'm guessin'," Mavelus adds, quietly.

"You think?" Zogenand says, stepping towards the projector. "Gather around. We've got no choice but to attack these bases. Obviously, we won't be launching large scale attacks. Rather, we'll be sending a group in to investigate each base and assassinate the commanders."

"Right. Who're these pricks we're killing?" Rudolph asks, quietly, sitting down.

Zogenand simply activates the projector.

The Information - Four Verdant Horsemen

The Four Verdant Horsemen is the seeming name for a group of commanders Gregor managed to dig up. Whoever their commanders are, besides Raptor, is unknown. Each one of them is a bad bunch, and each one is guarding a specific base. We'll talk of each commander in the briefing for their respective base. We're letting you choose which base you want to attack. Each base is listed below.

The Briefing - Prison of Death

The first location is a large prison, located to the south of the western mountain ranges, we've learned of a large scale death prison. The prison is most likely used by Raptor and his PMC to capture any "undesirables" and torture them to elimination. The prison is incredibly large. The weather in the southern region of the mountain is quite terrible, with constant storms and monsoons. Attacking it will be quite difficult due to poor visibility. The commander of this base is one Hayden "Wolf Jaw" Fritz. He's a big, burly bastard, and has a bad temper to boot. Take him out and shut this hell hole down. Also find any intelligence regarding Raptor's plans, if possible.

The Briefing - Officer Suite

An officer camp located on the frozen lake has been discovered. Although not high on the priorities of military weapons or threat, this base will most likely contain large amounts of valuable information regarding Raptor's plans. It's a somewhat small base, but most likely well guarded. The commander in charge of this base is Boris Marakov. He's a yellow-bellied coward, so expect him to pull dirty tricks if you face him. Assassinate him and gather as much intel as possible.

The Briefing - Underground Weapons Plant

This one was a tough one to dig up. An underground weapons facility, located to the south of Eastmill, has been discovered via Gregor's hacking. What they're developing is unknown, but it's not likely to be good for us. The exact size of the base, and what you may face is unknown. The commander is one Alek Varon, younger of the two Varon brothers. Be cautious, he's probably armed with some crazy gadgets within this base. Take him down, and shut down the weapons plant while trying to gather any information you can.

The Briefing - VIP Executions

We've learned of another, small scale execution camp located within the large castle in the snowfield area. This castle is BIG, and we mean it. The castle will most likely be heavily guarded. Saving the people sent there to be executed will most likely prove to be valuable for us; They might possibly know of some plans within Raptorco. The commander of this horrible operation is Garen Varon, the older of the two Varon brothers. According to the hacked database, he's a respected general within the PMC owned by Raptor, and he's second only to whoever their mysterious "commander" is. Your mission is to attack the castle, put a stop to the executions, and eliminate the general. We do have plenty of time; According to a file hacked by Gregor, the execution will happen in a week. We have enough time for you to handle all these other missions before taking on the castle, if you so choose.

Afterword

"Those are your four locations," Zogenand says, quietly. "You need to move out soon. Sorry to throw you into this so soon, but we need to put a stop to these bases now before they bite us in the rear later. Choose your attack target."

12

"Hm. The officer's suite, I see," Zogenand says, quietly, nodding a bit.

"Knowin's half the battle," Mavelus says. "We need all the info we can get on these bastards. Oh, by the by, we found this at that desert base." Mavelus grabs the file out of his coat, putting it on the table.

"Hm... I see..." Zogenand says, grabbing the file and looking it over. "We'll look at this while you're gone. Alright. You're leaving within the hour. You, Horst, and Rudolph are going to attack the Officer's Suite." The three of them nod, Horst and Rudolph giving a salute. Zogenand salutes the three of them. They then prepare, and depart after saying some goodbyes.

~ One long trip later... ~

The group arrives at the frozen lake, parking their jeep outside of the lake. The three had swapped to white camouflage uniforms to conceal themselves rather easily. Felina had stayed behind, because she was a bit too scared of getting shot at the moment. Mavelus was going to train with her later. But in the meantime...

"Ain't it kinda a bad idea to put a base on a lake?" Mavelus asks, looking towards the titular frozen lake.

"This lake is pretty much seven or so feet of solid ice," Rudolph explains, quietly, grabbing his gear. "That base isn't going anywhere... Until we're done with it, anyways. And don't worry about falling through the lake. Try not to fall on your ass though."

Mavelus scoffs a bit, nodding and walking onto the lake. Gentle snow fell on the three of them as they trek across the lake.

"So... You two look awful close," Mavelus comments, quietly, glancing towards them.

"Yep," Rudolph replies, simply. "Best of friends."

"Huh," Mavelus says. "Any particular happenin' that made it that way, or just for show?"

"Heh. Well, we met about seven or so years ago," Rudolph explains, as they walk. "Horst had been in the army for a few years now, and I was a new recruit. Two of us got put together in a small unit. Four guys, pretty much. Me, him, a softspoken guy, and a yappy bastard. I made friends with all of them except... Horst. Horst was awful quiet with all of us to start off with. Hardly cracked a smile at anything. Then something... Big happened."

"Mind if I ask?" Mavelus adds, quietly. Rudolph sighs.

"It was about a year after I joined. The four of us were sent to raid a terrorist power plant. We got to the end, and the boss of that base just... Shot himself. His bullet struck a power node, and everything went to shit. We tried to escape, but a crashing elevator suddenly struck down. Horst and the yappy guy got knocked back, badly. The yappy guy got the worst of it... Lost an arm to that incident. Me and the other remaining guy grabbed the both of them. Yeah, I had to carry Horst out of that base. Everything was falling apart around us. Shit was exploding. It was like one of those stupid action movies. But we got out. And damn, Horst, you and I are good friends but there's no way in hell I'm ever carrying you out like that again!" Horst just chuckles a bit at that, staying quiet. "Anyways, yeah, the two of us got those two guys out of there. Yappy guy survived but was discharged honorably afterwards. Got a big, fancy medal with it, too. The quiet guy left a bit afterwards, leaving just me and him. Yeah... After that, the two of us got a lot closer. Now we're like two peas in a pod." Rudolph finishes, grinning a bit. "We make a great team, too."

"I can imagine. Big guy takes the flak and causes ruckus, little guy snipes anyone giving him a hard time," Mavelus says, nodding a bit.

"Pretty much," Rudolph says, nodding a bit. "Never lost a raid yet. We're the star raid unit of the commander's operations."

"Yeah... Hope I don't throw ya off or anything," Mavelus says.

"Nah, you'll be alright. Hell, you saved the two of us," Rudolph says, grinning a bit. "Horst could use a bit of help."

"The enemy base is in sight," Horst suddenly says, flatly. Rudolph frowns, looking towards the lake and frowning. A rather medium sized base was coming into view from the white sheet of falling snow in front of them.

"Ah... Right," Rudolph grunts, nodding a bit. "So, we get in there, get intel, and kill this Boris bastard."

"Pretty much," Mavelus adds, quickly drawing his revolvers.

~ A little bit later... ~

The base comes into view from the sheet of snow. It was a somewhat small base, seemingly made out of brown stone. It only seemed to be about two floors at the most. The place seemed lavishly designed, somewhat fitting considering who apparently lived in it.

"Right... Think there'll be much resistance?" Mavelus asks, popping his neck. He then dons an identity obscuring ski mask.

"Not sure. This is an officer's suite. We can expect guards, but it won't be too populated," Rudolph says, quietly. "Alright. You two start heading towards the base. I'm going to sit back and snipe any patrolling bastards I see."

Horst and Mavelus nod, starting to head towards the base while Rudolph lowers down onto his gut, aiming through his rifle scope.

Mavelus and Horst quickly press up against a wall. Thankfully there were no guards situated on the wall above them, allowing them to sneak there across the frozen lake. Horst pressed up against a wall, quickly grabbing his radio.

"Who do you see?" he asks, quickly.

"See a bastard moving towards you. Hold up," Rudolph replies through the radio. A cry of pain comes from around the corner, as well as a thud onto the ice. "Goodnight. Okay, move."

Horst and Mavelus quietly sneak around the corner, past the dead guard. Rudolph, meanwhile, tries to move to a better location. He soon sets up shop facing the corner Horst and Mavelus just turned, and quickly lowers down to aim again.

"I see a bastard on the roof above you. Looks like he heard his pal. One sec," Rudolph says into the radio, aiming again and firing a shot and knocking the alert guard off of the wall.

A door smashes open nearby, and an officer alongside two armed guards storm out. The officer had his pistol drawn, aiming it around him.

"Looks like that got someone's attention. Hold up," Rudolph says, aiming towards the officer. "I'll drop the flatcap. You kill the two guards."

Horst nods, slowly, keeping his gun ready. The officer lets out a gag as a bullet pierces his throat, dropping to the ground. Horst jerks around the other corner, opening fire and dropping the surprised guards easily.

"Got 'em," Horst says into the radio.

"Right, I'm on my way," Rudolph says. They both spot him quickly sprint up towards the base. "We don't have much time. They'll throw an alarm soon enough."

Horst nods. "Then shall we 'crash the party' as the kids say?" he asks, simply. Rudolph grins at him.

"After you," Rudolph says. Horst nods, smashing the door open easily. It was a somewhat empty foyer, containing a single, now-shocked guard. He backs up, grabbing a radio.

"S-Sound the alarm! Sound the-" the guard shouts, barely getting the first sentence out before Horst delivers a vicious fist to his face, sending him flying across the room and into the door.

"Let's rock," Mavelus says, drawing his revolvers. The two storm inside...

~ Meanwhile...~

Zogenand quietly sits at his desk, grabbing the file that Mavelus had stolen from the desert lab. He quietly thumbs through it, frowning a bit at the info he was reading. Tox and Adamant quietly enter as well.

"Interesting..." he quietly mumbles, reading through it. "Apparently according to this, Raptor's been investing quite a bit of money into this little pet fusion project of theirs."

"Hm... Why would he care so much about this?" Tox asks, quietly pinching his beard. "This just seems to be some power increasing measure for those who fuse. I mean, just look at Mavelus."

"I have no idea. Apparently, Raptor is also highly interested in that upside down pyramid..." Zogenand adds, quietly. "This is quite strange. Unfortunately, much of it is blocked out and can't be read. Let's hope our little information gathering sessions help quite a bit."

"Hm," Tox grunts, nodding quietly. Adamant just looks away, letting out a quiet, dejected sigh.

"Is something wrong, ma'am?" Zogenand asks, looking towards her.

"It's just... I'm worried about Mavelus..." she mumbles, sighing softly. Zogenand slowly nods.

"I can't lie and say these jobs will be simple... But your husband does seem like a competent fighter," Zogenand says, quietly. "And not only that, he's with two of my best men. I have faith in them. And you should too, ma'am."

Adamant nods, quietly, looking back towards him. "Yes... You're right. Thank you, sir," She says, softly.

"Not a problem," Zogenand replies, offering a gentle smile. "I know how worrying family members out in war can be. I've heard quite an earful about it from my wife and daughter. They worry about me all the time. But I always swear to them both, I'll always come back. I've got enough fight in me to last years to come."

Adamant smiles a bit. "A family, huh?" She asks. Zogenand slowly nods.

"Yes ma'am," he replies. "They live a good ways off, near the border of the snowfield territory. A wife and a daughter of age twenty nine."

Tox slowly nods. "I've heard a bit about that," he says, quietly. Zogenand sighs.

"I put them before anything else," he says. "Well... Try to... If work doesn't get in the way."

"Hm... Perfectly understandable," Tox says, nodding a bit at him. "This job is quite... Time consuming, I assume."

"Quite frankly, Mr. Marttel, you have no clue," Zogenand says, sighing and rubbing his own head. Tox slowly nods.

"I can't say I do," Tox says.

"HEY!!" a voice suddenly shouts, as the door suddenly slams open and makes the others all jump up. Gregor was standing there, looking confused. "What??"

"DO YOU MIND?!" Tox shouts, angrily, narrowing his eyes at him. "You babbling imbecile!!"

"What?!" Gregor says, narrowing his eyes a bit. "I was digging some stuff up and found something!!"

"ENOUGH," Zogenand says, slamming his hands down on the desk and silencing them both. "Gregor. What did you find?"

"It... Seems to be, uh, a prisoner list... Dunno where..." Gregor mumbles, dropping some paper on the desk.

"Thank you," Zogenand says, taking the paper. "You're dismissed." Gregor turns tail and runs out quickly. He shakes his head. "Children..." He grumbles, starting to read through the paper.

~ Back at the base... ~

A guard goes flying through a wooden door. An officer jumps back, right as a burly figure charges in, and delivers a powerful blow to the officer's face and sending him flying across the large room. Several other guards quickly stand up, lowering into fighting stances as the burly figure, revealed to be Horst, slowly sits up, popping his neck at the group.

Mavelus rushes inside as well, drawing his two Anti-Matter Coltons and opening fire on a particularly large group of guards, gunning them down. A smaller group quickly approaches Horst and Rudolph. Horst effortlessly beats down some guards as they charge at him, sending them flying through desks and chairs easily. A guard manages to grab a chair and smash it over Horst's head. Horst was hardly fazed by the blow as the chair breaks over his head. He grabs the guard by the throat, lifting him up and turining him so he was holding him like a stick. He then starts beating the other guards with the screaming guard in his hand.

Rudolph, meanwhile, dodges a blow from another guard, swiftly jerking around his blows before suddenly drawing a knife and jamming it into his aggressor's chest, dropping him. He quickly rears back and throws it, sinking the blade into another guard's head as he tries to grab a gun. Another guard draws a pistol, and Rudolph quickly rushes, dodging a shot before ripping the pistol out of his hand and shoving him back, before shooting him with it. He quickly turns it on another group of soldiers who rush inside, gunning them down before they had a chance to attack the preoccupied Horst.

Mavelus sort of sat back in the brawl, meanwhile, occasionally taking shots at enemies who rushed inside. He wasn't exactly the strongest physically. He could take abuse like no one else, but his physical strength was... Lacking. So naturally a guard quickly closes in on him. Mavelus skillfully blocks the blows, rearing back and smacking the guard repeatedly with his coltons, managing to stagger him back far enough for him to shoot down.

Horst grunts, popping his neck as a whole legion of guards lay beat down in front of him. A guard suddenly jumps on his back, drawing a knife and attempting to tear at his throat with it. Horst grabs the guard's hand, crushing it in his grip before slinging him off of him and holding him in place. He beats him down viciously, before grabbing him by the chest, rearing back, and slam dunking him into a garbage can. He then quietly wipes his hands clean.

"Easy pickings, eh?" Rudolph says, looking around at the carnage. Horst quietly nods.

"Of course," he says, nodding slowly. "Shall we progress?"

"Mmhm," Mavelus grunts, quietly stepping ahead into a different, important looking room. "I'll go on ahead. Y'all handle findin' info and whatnot." The others quietly nod, as Mavelus steps into an office.

"W-Who the hell are you?!" a voice snarls, backing up. It was a tall officer wearing a dark green uniform with an officer's cap. Thick, black, burly eyebrows covered maroon colored eyes, narrowed, trying to look intimidating but only looking... Terrified.

"So, yer this Boris bastard I'm supposed ta kill, huh?" Mavelus asks, ignoring his questions and drawing his coltons.

"K-Kill me?!" Boris shouts, backing up and drawing a pistol of his own. "To hell with that!! GUARDS!!"

"They're all in la-la land now, ya fuckin' wimp,' Mavelus grunts. Boris quickly takes a few shots, narrowly missing Mavelus as he rushes off and dives down a trap hole. "Rgh, fuckin' wimp!!" Mavelus charges after him, soon finding himself in a large maze made up of walls of boxes and crates. "Oh... Fun times..."

Mavelus keeps his revolvers drawn, quietly stalking the hallways as he hunts for Boris. He could hear rushed footsteps all around him, as if Boris was trying to find something... He spots something green turn a corner. Mavelus charges after him, soon rounding the corner and opening fire.

Boris cries out as a shot hits his back, but he doesn't stop running, soon managing to find a small pod in the wall. He jumps inside, right as Mavelus turns the corner. Mavelus opens fire, but the shots bounce completely off the pod. It flies into the ceiling, smashing through it and flying far into the sky.

"Bastard!" Mavelus spits, bitterly. He grunts, turning around and trying to find a way out. He finds a ladder nearby and climbs out, soon running into Horst and Rudolph. "He got away."

"Damn..." Rudolph grunts. "We found a good bit of files in his office, though. We failed to kill him, but overall, I'd say this was... Relatively successful."

"Then let's get the hell outta here," Mavelus says, nodding quietly. The three leave the building, lighting it on fire as they go...

~ Later... ~

The three enter Zogenand's office. Adamant quickly rushes towards Mavelus, grabbing him in a tight hug, which he returns. Rudolph and Horst step towards Zogenand.

"Boris escaped," Rudolph says, grimly. "But, we managed to obtain some important looking files." He sets them down on the table. Zogenand slowly nods.

"Understood," he says, nodding. "Go get some rest. We'll decide where to go tomorrow."

"Yes sir!" Horst and Rudolph both say, before turning and leaving. Zogenand grunts, sitting back in his chair.

"Mavelus, did everything go well?" Tox asks, looking towards him. Mavelus just grins at him while Adamant still held him tightly.

"More or less, yeah," He says, nodding. "Them two, though, they're damn good fighters."

"Best of my unit," Zogenand says, nodding. "Proud of those two."

"I'll say," Mavelus says. "That big bastard beat up guards, with another guard."

"Just another day," Zogenand says, nodding approvingly. "Right... Mavelus, since you're here, I'll let you decide where your group will attack tomorrow."

"Will the others mind?" Mavelus asks, worriedly. Zogenand just shakes his head.

"No worries," He says. "Those two'll just go with the flow. They always do."

"Right..." Mavelus says, pondering it a bit. After some thought...

"I see..." Zogenand says. "The prison. Alright. Get some rest. First thing tomorrow, you're going there."

"Yessir," Mavelus says, turning and leaving.

 

13

~ The next morning... ~

The trio quickly make their way into Zogenand's office. Mavelus quickly gets his goodbyes out of the way.

"Alright. Your next attack target has been decided," Zogenand says, looking towards the group. "Your next location is going to be the prison."

"Wonderful. We'll make sure to get some rain gear," Rudolph replies, quietly nodding. "It's gonna be a long trip. We better go now."

"Godspeed, gentlemen," Zogenand says, giving them a salute. The trio return it before leaving. Mavelus looks towards Felina, frowning a bit at her.

"Y'know, ya'd probably help me out quite a bit if ya actually came with us," Mavelus says to her. She just looks a bit ashamed at that.

"I know, I know..." She replies, a touch sheepishly. "Do you... Want me to?"

"Yeah. Practical trainin' and all," Mavelus says, nodding at her. She quietly hops onto his shoulder, and he turns and walks off to catch up with the others. Rudolph looks towards him as he catches up.

"Oh, she's coming along now?" Rudolph inquires, looking towards the shy little Walker.

"Yup," Mavelus replies, bluntly. "Got a problem with that?"

"Er... A bit," He says, nodding. "What can she do?"

"Heh. You'll see, no worries," Mavelus replies, smirking a tad. Rudolph just frowns a bit.

"I'll take your word for it," He says, before facing forwards again. The group quickly pile into a jeep before setting off to the east...

~ A bit later... ~

Mavelus frowns as he spots clouds overhead. It wasn't long after that rain started pounding the windshield.

"Glad we got a hardtop," Rudolph comments as they drive. "It's gonna be rain, rain, rain from here."

"Rain rain go the fuck away," Mavelus grunts, quietly.

"Tch, no kidding. Makes traveling through the mountain range a bitch," Rudolph says, quietly. "Thanks to the colliding climate, not helped by the massive fuck-off mountain in the way."

Mavelus nods, quietly. He frowns a bit at Felina, who just stared at the rain curiously. "What, have ya never seen rain before?" He asks, curiously.

"Me? Oh... No, I haven't," She says, softly. "I was lab grown, remember."

"Ah... That's right," Mavelus says, nodding a bit. "Well it ain't as nice as it looks. Ya ever been washed?" She quietly nods. "Imagine that, but not as strong. And it never stops. Only... It'll get a lot stronger as we get closer to the place."

"Oh... Doesn't sound pleasant..." Felina says, her body drooping a bit.

"Eh... It ain't that bad if yer used to bein' wet," Mavelus says, petting her on the head.

Rudolph just sighs a bit, sitting back and grabbing a newspaper out of the door holder. He sighs, flipping it open as Horst drove the jeep. The headline read "Octopodian pirate continues to plague Raptorco. City!". Rudolph just dryly laughs at the article.

~ A few hours later... ~

Felina just frowns a bit at the literal downpour that was striking their jeep as they drove up the west side of the mountain towards the valley. "Wow..." She comments.

"Told ya it was gonna get worse," He says, nodding a bit. "The rain'll offer cover for us, at least."

"Mhm. We're gonna need all the help we can get," Rudolph adds, sitting up. "This place is gonna be a lot more heavily guarded than that officer's suite was."

"Eh. Nothin' we can't handle," Mavelus says, nodding and grinning a touch arrogantly.

"Mhm. Don't get cocky," Rudolph grunts, as the jeep comes to a halt just at the tip of a hill. "All that'll do is get you shot."

"Yeah yeah..." Mavelus grunts. "Alrighty, Felina, ya ready?"

"I... I suppose..." She mumbles, fearfully, as Mavelus opens the door to the thick wall of rain outside. "W... Wow..."

"Mhm. Glad we got a coat for ya," Mavelus says, grabbing a small cover and wrapping it around her as he gets into thick rain gear himself. The prison soon came into view; It was a massive, grey structure, having several floors to it. Several large watch towers overlooked the damp environment, bright floodlights meticulously scanning the environment.

"Geez... Sniping's gonna be a bitch in this..." Rudolph comments. "At least visibility is poor for the enemy as well. That's the one benefit to this. But regardless, long range sniping just flat out won't work..."

"So we're goin' the sneaky sneaky route?" Mavelus asks.

"Either that or we get shot to death," Rudolph says, rather bluntly. "So... Yeah... Gonna go ahead and say we are."

Mavelus nods. "Ya'll are better at that than I am. So, I'll follow yer lead," He says. The two nod, bearing down and heading towards the prison. Mavelus quickly follows their lead.

~ Meanwhile... ~

Zogenand sighs, quietly sitting back down at his table as he begins to read the files Mavelus retrieved from the Officer's Suite. Tox and Adamant were also in the room. He frowns a bit at the report. It appeared to have been a letter written from someone to Boris Marakov, the officer in charge of that suite.

"To Officer Boris-

The tests regarding the cell culture from the site have proven to be quite... Mixed. On the one hand, subjects gain quite advanced physical abilities when the cells are allowed to fester in their bodies. On the other, their mind degenerates to a very poor level, and they prove to be out of control. All tests so far have ended in failure, and every single subject has gone insane.

Growing the cells, however, appears to be quite simple. The cells naturally expand and develop, even without a host body. They're a bit like cancer in that regard... Which is quite fascinating. We have no fear of running out of cells to test with anytime soon.

Please inform the commander of these results once you have the time. I will see if I can reduce the dosage, and possibly growth of the cells, in order to reduce physical and mental mutations in the subjects. I feel we're onto something... A breakthrough is bound to happen soon.

Also, subjects themselves, however, are growing... Limited. Have Hayden send some more prisoners to test these on. I'm not talking to that psychopath, sorry.

~Chief Scientist Alek Varon"

"Hm... Alek Varon..." Zogenand inquires. "So that underground weapons plant also doubles as a lab... And they're experimenting with some bizarre cell culture..."

"Cell culture?" Tox questions, curiously. "What kind of cell culture?"

"The letter didn't go into too much detail," Zogenand replies, sighing. "It's a bit like cancer in that it grows quite rapidly, apparently. And the results on people exposed to these cells are quite... Horrifying."

"That's awful... They're experimenting on real people??" Adamant asks, shuddering a bit and worriedly putting a hand over her mouth.

"Unfortunately so," Zogenand says, quietly. "They're using prisoners from Hayden's prison as test subjects. Hopefully our little group can put an end to that prison soon enough..."

"Hm... I fear if Mavelus hadn't have gotten out of his employment, Raptor would, no doubt, have tested those cells on him as well..." Tox adds, coldly.

"He has to be stopped..." Zogenand says. "This has gotten too far out of hand..."

~ Elsewhere... ~

Horst easily smashes the door open leading into the main hallways of the large prison. An alarm almost immediately goes off, as several dozen dark-cladded guards quickly charge down a hallway towards them. Horst pops his neck, grabbing his minigun.

~ Yet somewhere else.. ~

A figure observes the security feed in a dark room. His angry, bloodshot green eyes constrict, as he snorts and snarls angrily.

~ Returning to the action...

Horst stands over the group of fallen soldiers, clutching his smoking M50. He pops his neck, as Rudolph and Mavelus draw close as well.

The prison had... Quite earned it's name. The walls were a dirty, grimy gray color, and were covered in cracks and holes. Screams could be heard from certain parts of the prison, and some cells flat out had corpses of starved prisoners inside of them. Horst and Rudolph were... Rather startlingly calm about the whole ordeal.

"Right. First things first, we need to find a way to disable the cell blocks," Rudolph says. "Nothing better to fuck up a prison than a good riot, right?"

"Mhm. Wonder if they got a big security room or somethin' like that?" Mavelus inquires. "Alright, Felina, hit it."

Felina nods, and the two of them quickly fuse together. Horst and Rudolph stare at him, a bit shocked. They didn't exactly get a good look at him while he was saving them back at that desert lab, but here... They could see him quite clearly. "Wow... This is what Raptor's working on?" Rudolph says. "Geez, no wonder..."

Mavelus nods, grinning a bit. "Pretty great, ain't it?" He says, a bit proudly. "And I don't even think this is the most it can do!"

"Don't get full of yourself," Rudolph says, simply. "Let's move."

He frowns as he hears his radio buzz suddenly. He grabs it. "Yes, commander?" He says into it.

"Gregor managed to hack the floorplan of the building," Zogenand's voice comes out of the radio. "There are multiple security rooms within the prison. The biggest one is located on the top floor. Release the ones on the other floors to open up the path onwards."

"Roger," Rudolph says, nodding as he puts the radio away. "Alright, we need to find this floor's security room!"

The trio quickly charge down a hallway, gunning down a few more soldiers as they move. The prisoners, at this point, notice the group, and they start banging on the bars of their cells while begging to be let out. They quickly spot a large room at the end of a hall, labeled "Security". Horst smashes the door open, sending a guard flying away from it.

Several more guards flip tables over, setting up cover. Mavelus pops his neck, drawing his Coltons and suddenly firing out a red, firey blast that explodes powerfully. The blast catches the guards, lighting them all aflame The guards run flailing and screaming out of cover as the vicious flames devour them whole.

"Damn, you could do that??" Rudolph asks, feeling a mixture of shock and mild mortification.

"Not... Like that, no..." Mavelus mumbles. He quickly shakes his head. "C-Come on, let's flip that switch!"

Rudolph nods, flipping the switch overlooking a bunch of monitors. Immediately, the cell doors flip open, and prisoners come pouring out. Some of them grab the weapons from fallen guards, opening fire on other guards as they poured out from upstairs. Rudolph grins as he steps out.

"Hell, we might not even have to burn this place down when we're done," He says. "These guys have it covered."

"Let's just get goin'," Mavelus says, quickly running to the stairs leading to the second floor. Several guards were running towards another stairway to the second floor, leaving their backs wide open to an attack from Mavelus and the others. More guards quickly join the battle, and Mavelus grunts and ducks behind some cover. He draws his revolvers, suddenly firing a large blue spark of energy. It slams into a soldier, generating a frosty explosion which freezes most of the guards in place. Horst quickly grabs and tosses a grenade, which shatters them all like glass.

The second security room wasn't much farther away, and the gang quickly takes it over and releases the prisoners on the second floor.

"Alright, fellas, I'm gonna lead the charge outta the prison," Mavelus says. "You two can handle the last security room, right?"

Horst and Rudolph nod, and Mavelus tips his hat before rushing off after the prisoners. Horst and Rudolph head to the top floor. There were very few guards, most likely because they were too busy dealing with the massive riot going on. The security room was down a hallway, surrounded on either side by cells. Horst and Rudolph head towards it.

The door suddenly smashes open.

A tall fellow, about as tall as Horst himself, storms out of the door. He wore green chest armor, and similarly colored pants. He wore dark black boots, and a green officer's cap covering his bald head. He had a bony, angry face, with a pronounced jawline and thick, green eyes currently filled with rage.

"You think you can FFFUCK with me?!" He shouts, his voice echoing through the halls. "You think you can FUCK with the prison of HAYDEN WOLF JAW FRITZ?! I'LL BITE YOUR HEADS OFF AND EAT YOUR HEARTS!!"

Rudolph steps back, desperately fumbling for his rifle as Hayden suddenly charges down the hall at ridiculous speed. Hayden delivers a powerful blow to Rudolph with his fist, forcing him to drop his rifle as he goes flying down the hallway. Horst quickly jumps in and manages to give him several powerful punches, before Hayden viciously headbutts him and forces him back before Hayden pushes the offense himself. He manages to overpower Horst, punching him to the ground.

Rudolph suddenly jumps on Hayden's back, starting to pound away on the top of his head as Hayden snarls angrily and jerks around to throw him off. Horst groans, managing to get to his feet as Hayden manages to grab Rudolph. He viciously punches his face repeatedly, before rearing back and slamming him into the ground.

"Ohoh, you're about to have a really bad day..." Horst growls, suddenly. Hayden looks up, suddenly getting a powerful fist to the face that sends him staggering backwards. Horst doesn't relent, giving powerful blow after blow as he manages to push Hayden into a corner. Horst suddenly rears back, and uppercuts Hayden, sending him flying through the ceiling and onto the roof of the prison.

Mavelus suddenly arrives on the scene. Horst doesn't say a word, pointing towards Rudolph. Mavelus quickly nods and grabs him, managing to drag him to safety. Horst nods, before quickly climbing through the hole and into the rain above. Hayden growls angrily, managing to get to his feet. He immediately charges towards Horst again, as Horst quickly throws his arms up to block several powerful punches. He manages to shoulder slam Hayden away, countering with a powerful fist right to Hayden's mouth. Hayden snarls angrily as he jerks back, suddenly spitting several broken teeth onto the ground. He lets out a furious shout, charging at Horst again. Horst simply punches him as he gets close, punching his mouth again. He follows it up with powerful blow after blow, each one knocking the green-clad lunatic's teeth out of his big mouth. He manages to push Hayden to the edge of the roof. He delivers a powerful blow, and with the last of Hayden's teeth gone, so too was him, right over the rooftop. It was a relatively long fall, and Hayden screamed the whole way.

Horst pants, slowly stepping towards a stairway nearby. He manages to limp downstairs, where he met a conscious Rudolph and Mavelus.

"Damn... Horst, are you alright?" Rudolph manages to ask. Horst was covered in bruises from Hayden's vicious assault.

"I'm fine," Horst replies, simply, as he steps past them. "We need to return."

"Right to the point as usual..." Rudolph mumbles, grunting as he limps after Horst. Mavelus helps them both back to the jeep, as fires began to light up within the prison. That place would be destroyed by the end of the day...

None of them notice a figure standing on a cliff nearby, watching Horst diligently as they soon leave...

~ A while later... ~

Mavelus walks into Zogenand's office, quickly grabbing Adamant and giving her a kiss. He sighs, looking towards Zogenand.

"Where are the others?" Zogenand asks, frowning a bit.

"Restin'," Mavelus replies. "Long day. Last bastard put up quite a fight compared to the yellow-belly from the officer's suite."

"Hm... Yeah. I bet Hayden was a real handful," Zogenand says, nodding quietly. "Alright then. We recently learned of something new in regards to the Underground Weapons Center. That place is also conducting inhumane experiments regarding a strange cell culture. We don't know the specifics of the cells themselves, but the results of the experiments are... Quite terrifying..."

"Hm... Got it," Mavelus says, nodding.

"It's a good thing you liberated that prison," Zogenand adds. "The center was using the prisoners as test subjects for the experiments. Without them, things are going to go poorly for the enemy. Good work."

"Righty-O," Mavelus adds, grinning. "And I gotta say, bein' with Felina is provin' to have quite a lotta benefits."

"I can imagine," Zogenand says, turning towards him and smiling. "Alright then. Time to choose your next attack target..."

"The weapons center. Ya mentioned there were crazy tests goin' on down there. That makes that place a lot more dangerous than we first thought," Mavelus says, nodding.

"Hm. Alright, then," Zogenand says. "Be careful down there. Who knows what you'll find..."

Mavelus nods, and turns to head to bed himself.

Sub-Chapter 1

Horst was laying flat on his bunk bed, staring up at the ceiling above him. The bruises and scuffs on his body still pulsed a dull, reverberating pain, even up to when he fell asleep. Hopefully, they would cease their pain by tomorrow's mission... Knowing his own luck, they wouldn't. And things would only get better as he slowly fell into slumber...

----

A door to a small, homely shack is pushed open by a panting, wheezing gridmask. The gridmask looked about twenty years old, but even for such a young age, his body was thick and burly, like a shaved bear. Sweat glistened and dripped from his flushed, red face. He panted powerfully in exhaustion, as he sulked into the room. A burly, older gridmask who looked even larger than the younger steps in behind him. He looked a tad exhausted, but not nearly as bad as the younger one before him.

He himself was built similarly to his son, but... More so. If the younger gridmask looked like a shaved bear, than this one looked like a shaved grizzly bear. Tall and burly, practically towering over the younger gridmask. His face looked like it was chiseled out of stone, and he had a constant cold, commanding look to him. A graying beard covered his face as well, well trimmed and groomed. His cold, green eyes narrowed at the younger gridmask as the latter pants, loudly, and the older one twists his face in annoyance.

"Quit your panting!" the older one barks, sounding akin to a drill sergeant. The younger one straightens up immediately, his breathing reducing to a quiet, hushed pant. "You sound like a fat walker climbing the eastern hills! Wipe that sweat off your brow, Horst!"

The younger gridmask quickly complies, taking the sleeve of his wet coat and rubbing it across his forehead, wiping the sweat of a daily routine from his head. The older gridmask nods in approval, his face softening slightly.

"Your mother has breakfast ready," he says, his voice still bearing a slight, cold edge. "Get to the kitchen and eat before it gets cold."

"Y-Yes, sir..." Horst mumbles, softly.

"I can't hear you!" the older gridmask shouts, his voice quickly raising to his drill sergeant tone.

"Y-Yes sir, Sergei sir!!" Horst quickly manages to cry out, straightening his posture as he salutes the older gridmask. Sergei nods in approval, as Horst quickly turns and flees.

It was just another day in the small, cold shack out in the middle of the snowy plains... Horst got up at four o'clock, sharp. He and his father would go out into the billowing snow, training and hiking through the hills and blizzards with determination. They would not come back until seven AM, and not a minute before that. Then the two would eat their breakfast in relative silence with Horst's mother, a woman of a thin frame named Ludmilla. Then, at eight o'clock, they would go downstairs into the basement for more training.

----

Horst grunts and pants as he lifts a two hundred pound barbell above him. His father, laying on a nearby bench, lifted probably twice that, and nearly effortlessly. Ludmilla acted as Horst's spotter, making sure the boy wouldn't drop the barbell onto his chest from exhaustion. Finally, after an hour of training, Sergei called it quits and the two put their weights aside.

"You did good today, boy," Sergei says, nodding at the tired Horst.

"T-Thank you, sir..." Horst pants, managing a salute.

"I think it's time we bumped you up to two-fifty," Sergei adds, not flinching at Horst's bewildered reaction.

"W-What?! B-But sir-" Horst starts, but Sergei silences him.

"Don't throw your 'buts' at me!" Sergei snaps. "What are you?! Some kind of spineless wimp?! What's your name, boy?!"

"H-Horst Waltz..." Horst says, weakly.

"I can't hear you!!" Sergei shouts, loudly.

"Horst Waltz!!" Horst shouts, straightening again as Sergei gives him a cold glare.

"Damn right! Don't sully your family name with that spineless crap!! Now, you WILL be pumping 250s tomorrow! Do I make myself clear?!" Sergei shouts.

"Yes sir!" Horst shouts.

"Good!" Sergei says, nodding in approval. The three of them look towards upstairs as they hear a knocking on the front door. "Go answer it!"

"Yes sir!" Horst says, quickly turning and retreating upstairs. He opens the door...

A tall, lithe male with a thick, statuesque face and a white beard stood at the door. He was dressed in a thick, yellow coat as he silently stares the boy over.

"Hello, Horst," the gridmask says, nodding at him.

"H-Hello, Zogenand, sir..." Horst says, stepping aside and letting him in...

----

Horst sits up with a start, nearly hitting his head on the top bunk. He pants, feeling cold sweat drip down his head as he jerks to a window. The night sky was in full force, with the two moons shining their soft light on the snowy white landscape outside.

"Mmh... Horst... You alright?" a tired voice says above him. Rudolph's head lowers down to the side of the bed, upside down, as he looks at his friend tiredly.

"Yes, Rudolph... I'm fine..." Horst mumbles, quietly, laying back down. "You should get to sleep..."

"Hm... Alright, pal..." Rudolph yawns, pulling back up to the top bunk. Horst just lets out a shaky sigh, closing his eyes again...

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