Project: AKRA pt 13

(They are down to three people, assaulting the base soon, will they be able to save AKRA?)

 

Raist spread his arms out while he was falling through the sky, seeing the two of them further down through clearings in the clouds of mist close to the bottom of the river.  He enjoyed the quick freedom of the descent when the small cord he was tied on began providing a counter to gravity as he rapidly slowed down, controlling the final length of his descent with a button on his suit.

Spinning around slowly, he lowered himself the final few body lengths to the small rock platform the other two were at.

Agrest took their three cords, pressing them into the wall and triggering their camouflage system, which caused them to fade into the rock color.

“What’s the likelihood of hostile creatures in this water?” Raist asked.

Philira shook her head rapidly.  “No way, this water is too fast.  Even if there are creatures, the water should hide our thermal signature with the outside of our suit being cold.  I’ll wave when I have the system set up on the other side.”

She knelt down, spiked another rod into the ground and dove into the water without waiting for any command from Raist.  Her body moved up and down in a rhythm as the wave started by her head swept through her whole body over and over as she flew across the rapids.  Scouts…good at everything.

“I am glad she is such a good swimmer,” Raist said.

“Yeah, never got good at that style.  Luckily I could pass all my tests doing the side-stroke.”

Raist was spiking his safety system, hooking it up to the line Philira was establishing when Agrest put his hand on his shoulder.

“Something doesn’t feel right.”

Raist didn’t like the pit in his stomach hearing Agrest say that, but evenly responded, “Why, what’s wrong?”

Agrest shook his head.  “I don’t know, can’t explain it.  But call it a Sniper’s intuition.”  Raist was ready to dive into the water having seen Philira’s pink hair emerge from the other side and waved the two of them over when Agrest interrupted him.

“If I don’t make it out alive, can you deliver a letter I have in my room back on the ship?” Agrest asked coldly.  His joking demeanor was totally gone, replaced by a dim realism.  “It’s to that girl we saved last time on Azure 2.  I was always scared to write her back.  But at least let her know that I died, but was thinking about her, okay?”

Raist turned around, and pushed him hard.  “Don’t you dare say that!  What is everyone’s problem?!  We have been through way worse shit than this.  Border-Action 9, the assault on Klattu, being stranded on Kilo?  Come on, Ziko’s arm?  I lost both of mine on Kilo.”  Raist lifted both of his arms as he went on.  “These are bio-synths!  We sustained a few injuries early and everyone is thinking this is the end?”

“Heh.” Agrest pushed Raist’s hand away as his lip rose in a slight grin. “You feel it too, then?”

Raist turned around, mad Agrest had basically gotten him to admit his unease, and dove into the water.  He started swimming with all his might against the harsh current.  Memories of the drownings he sustained during swim ‘training’ came back to him, but only focused his mind as he crashed through the waves and rocks.  He felt a strong pull that was Philira’s line dragging him to the other shore.  He felt his back legs sweep to the right, pulling away from him, and suddenly went spinning into the water as he got trapped in a whirlpool.

Underwater, he tried kicking off a huge rock he was trapped next to, but the whirlpool was too strong.  He stopped struggling and went limp, conserving his oxygen.  His nanites would keep him conscious for a much longer time than even the best breath-holders on Terra were capable of before nanites, but still knew anything could happen.

He protected his head with his arms as he hit the rock over and over with every spin of the water.  Feeling the line on his suit finally tighten, it forcefully ripped him out of the whirlpool and back to the surface.  He turned on his back, took a breath, and continued covering his head as Philira dragged him to the other side.

“Brings back bad memories of water survival school!” he shouted over the din, standing up and shaking the water off his face and hair as he backed away from the spraying mist the river was generating.

“Haha, yeah,” she agreed as she smiled. “Lot of memories is for sure.”

He suddenly remembered that as much as he went through, while he was in tactics and strategy classes, she was probably still out there swimming and running.  He felt bad for even thinking about his hardship; he had no doubt the ‘expendable’ Scouts were trained far more cruelly than the Leaders.  She had swum through those rapids that likely would have killed Raist had he not had assistance.

Agrest was dragged to the shore and Philira hid the line across the river.  Now that this line and the descent line were established, on the return trip all they would need  to do is hook up to it.  The mechanism could pull them across the river, or up the cliff.

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Project: AKRA pt 12

***

The short cycles of the planet had given way to day as they trudged forward with no resistance, back to walking on the razor grass sawing slowly in the sunlight.  They marched forward with four of them still fully ‘armed’ in the limb sense of the word but at this point met no enemies.

Everyone knew what was coming before they actually rolled onto the bare ground, based on the loud roaring starting to filter through the trees.  Though Leio and Ziko were both reduced in combat efficiency, their squad was still in fairly good fighting capacity.  They made it through the surprise of the night, and still had four people capable of shooting larger weapons.  However, this new challenge they were coming up to was going to prove trying.

“There is no way we are making it across that,” Ziko said.  He knelt down to let Leio off of his shoulders as she sat down on the ground so he could better look over the edge of the cliff.  They stood next to some rocks and a tree, using the light cover as they looked over the shear corner of the massive cliff to the rumbling water hardly visible through the mist below.  On both sides of them the deep gorge was cut through the rock with no easy way down, and the height did not get any less extreme anywhere close that they could hike to make the descent easier.

“The two of them could not hope to swim across that water,” Agrest said, keeping his head turned upwards most of the time for any drones that might come flying over the tree tops.

“I have faith they could, but the risk is too great.”  Raist looked up and down the escarpment they were located on.  “It’d be better if the two of you stayed here to cover our escape.”

From where they were, the tip of the peak was barely visible against the tall trees of the other side of the river.  Their goal was close, but in every way seemed farther with every step they took.

“From here you guys should be able to build a pretty good choke point in the rocks over there.  The three of us are going to do a sprint to the target, and come back.  There is a good chance we will need as much cover fire and a clear path as possible on our way back.”

Agrest pointed to the rocks.  “It’s a good plan, since I’d hate trying to descend and climb back up with things shooting at us.  If you two have this locked down, it should help our escape.”

Raist finished, “Ziko, I am going to need you well-rested because as soon as we get here, we are running back to the extraction zone. I do not want to be in the forest again for another night.  The three of us should be able to handle AKRA, and I know you are strong, but we cannot be slowed even if you are carrying Leio.”

The problem was they had to make it back out of anti-air range to call their shuttle down.  Even if it was capable of firing, with how defended their target was, calling it anywhere close was risking being trapped here.

The group worked for a bit, positioning rocks and checking sight patterns so that the two staying behind would have clear cover fire on the three advancing members, both on the descent, the swim, and the climb before they disappeared into the other side.  Natural rock walls covered their backs, and a few shots through the rocks gave them some gun holes to fight anything that did come from the forest.  The three advancing soldiers dropped all but one weapon here so they could move faster now that the mission had become one of a sprint.

“Goodbye, Raist,” Leio told him as they embraced.  Raist was having to hold her up.  “I hope I see you again.  I really do.”  Her foot was realigned, but the large section of meat missing from her calf was something he tried to not look at.

“I’ll be back soon.”  He gave her butt a light squeeze as he turned away from her.  They spiked their rappel systems into the rock and Agrest and Philira already jumped over the edge.  Raist was preparing to do the same when a strange thought came to him.

‘Look at her one more time; it might be your last.’  He turned to face her, and she did a small wave, smiling at him, the normalcy making him think he was over-thinking again.  He turned back towards the cliff and crouched and launched off.

Project: AKRA pt 11

“It’s okay…I know.  I can get a bio amp replacement if we make it through this.”

“Hey, you guys over there?”  Agrest’s voice shouted.  “Get over here now!”

Ziko pushed himself off the tree, they all grimly watched for a moment as what remained of his arm was quickly chopped and consumed by the blade grass and its acid once the suit’s structural integrity had been broken down.  “I hate this fucking place.” It seemed to be an understatement from Ziko as he watched his arm get eaten by the grass.

The three walked over to Agrest, his huge sniper rifle leaning against the tree.  Raist realized it was Agrest’s shot that killed the diving bird before it killed them.

Leio was sitting on the ground, her knee looked crushed, and everything under it was gone.  Her other ankle was broken, bent back up to her calf.

“What are you going to do with me?” she asked, looking straight at Raist.  He felt his stomach drop a bit with the implication of one entirely real option he could take to save the rest of the group time.  This was a woman he was intimate with, yet the mission was now at risk of being compromised due to both her legs.

“What happened?” he asked, trying to buy some time to think this through.

“The ankle was from the fall, and this,” she pointed to her missing calf and the crushed knee, “was from that bastard over there.”  She indicated a large dead beast.  “Heh, damn.  I’ve never seen such a hostile fauna before.”  She leaned back while they crouched down to inspect her damage.  Even with her mutilated legs, she still was amazingly lusty, along with a slight independence still obvious in her countenance.  “No wonder they put their fortress here.  Secure the skies, and let the planet take care of the ground.”

Raist could feel everyone waiting for him to decide what they were going to do with the obvious change in plans the injuries and the planet presented to them.  Maybe they were especially waiting to wonder if he would leave Leio, or kill her.  The latter might be humane.

He stood up.  “We are not leaving anyone behind.”  He looked to Ziko before continuing, “I am taking you off Assault-role.  It’s too dangerous to not have a combat-able person not firing, so because of your injury you are the one who will carry her.  Leio, you are staying on the Sweep.  The rest of us are changing our weapon configuration.  Agrest, switch to your Silvershot for faster shots, I’m moving down to the ‘Saw and Leio you go with whatever you can shoot while still staying on Ziko.  Z, you can either go weaponless or take a one-hander.”

“And me?” Philira asked.

“Stay with the Plaz-Shot.  It is obvious to us now most of the fighting is going to be close range.  I need Agrest and Leio to be on drone watch out.  We are not that far in raw distance to our target so we are going to press on.  I do not think resting is a wise decision.”

He walked over to Leio. “You know what we have to do right?” he asked.

“Of course, get it done already.”

They dragged her to an area devoid of the grass where it looked shot up from the battle.  He handed her the handle of the SSAW with its softer grip, pressing it towards her mouth, she opened it and bit down on the handle.

“Hold her,” he commanded.  Philira and Agrest knelt down and held her body and arms down.

“Heh,” she muttered out of her jammed mouth, turning her head towards the sky.  “Never…get used…to this.”

Raist knelt down by her foot, grabbing the misplaced foot, and, without waiting for any okay or any delay, pulled downward and backward.  Immediately her leg started flailing while the other two struggled to hold her down, letting out a painful ‘guuuaaaaa!’ through her gritting mouth.  It was clear she was trying to maintain control despite the massive pain and compared to a scream most would have let out, her moan was fairly benign.

He continued pulling back until it was straight, and pushed it softly back into the semi-correct position.  He held her foot still for a moment while she stopped moving; she spit the gun handle out.  “I’m okay…”

All three of them let her go as she sat there.  “Should be walk-able in about a cycle.  I feel my nanites reforming the bone already.” It was quiet for a moment before she continued. “Well, stop staring at me already!  As much as you guys like to do it, let’s get this going.”  He reluctantly managed a smile at her pride hiding her shame of slowing the group down.

She lifted an arm up and Raist grabbed it, hauling her body over his shoulder then transferring her to Ziko where she sat on his shoulders.  She used her one leg to wrap under his shoulder to his back and was using her hips to hold onto his head.

“Not pretty, but it will work.  Z, can you still function?” Raist asked, handing him a pistol for his one remaining arm.  The chemicals in them and their advanced nanites could keep them functioning at conditions worse than this, but still wanted to make sure.

“You mean with that hot ass wild woman riding him all night?” Agrest joked.

“I think his head is facing the wrong direction for anything wild,” Leio said, giving Ziko a tight squeeze.

“Damn Raist, no wonder you like her.  I can tell she’s probably into bondage,” Agrest responded.

“Don’t make me squeeze his head off.”

“Why would you punish me for your two perverted minds?” Ziko said while he practiced moving around a bit with Leio on his shoulders.

“I think he’d like that.” Agrest added, “Either getting his head squeezed off, or your ‘punishment’ that is.”

At least their spirits…and chemicals… were still high enough to joke.  Raist looked at the Spreading Squad Assault Weapon he was holding in his hands, its neon blue lines pulsing an incredible power just waiting to be unleashed.  He was practicing drawing his knife out of the SSAW Philira had hidden in it in the event of a surprise.  Raist was glad their spirits were still good for now though.  He knew how bad missions could get.

Project: AKRA pt 10

Raist took a prone position in the clearing Ziko had cut through the forest with his CSW, while the two close range fighters fought back-to-back against the horde, standing right above Raist.

He was taking careful burst shots, squeezing a few rounds, gauging whether the creature needed more rounds to die, then either delivering, or moving on to a new target.  The counter on the side of the rifle shot down rapidly.

He squeezed the final 30 into some creature hopping between the trees and as he rolled to his side to put a new magazine of 1,000 in.  The magazine was in, and his hand was going to the ‘accept’ toggle when he saw a huge bird diving out of the sky right at their group.

“Up…!” he started, but it was too slow.  Its mouth peeled open to reveal a tri-maw opening ready to consume one of them.  The creature was closing on them when its large neck was separated from its body, liquid exploding out the backside as its head crashed to the ground not far from them, its body gliding into another dead creature.

“What?”

Raist toggled the rifle back on, and saw a line of white tracers clearing the sides of part of the trees.  He knew that weapon anywhere: it was Leio’s Sweep Rifle, but she was aiming horizontally.  What killed the bird?

“It’s Agrest and Leio!” Philira shouted, another of her clips dumping out of her Plaz-Shot and hitting Raist in the head as she reloaded with robotic speed.

He didn’t need to tell the two he was with to not hit them, and he hoped the other two knew they were here.

Beasts continued advancing on them until all of them mysteriously stopped, turning and running as fast as they could.  Death had not scared them before, so it was definitely something different.

“Phi?”  Raist asked.

“Something’s coming…top of the trees.”

The strange silence had returned to the forest, though a few wounded screams still pierced the night.  Raist hated killing animals, and hearing their moans as they were sawed apart by the grass hurt his soul.

“Drone!”  Philira shouted, grabbing Ziko and diving to the shot-up ground.  Above them a large floating disk hovered over the scene of their battle.

“Shoot it!  Shoot it!” she yelled.

Raist was the only one of the three with the longer-range weapon and brought it to bear, and though he was giving it rapid bursts of ten sonic rounds that were undoubtedly flying straight through its hull, its size would not easily be brought down.  The two he was with were each rapidly reaching for their longer-range weapons as a firing arm extended above the disk.

A loud whoosh reached them long after the rocket did, rending the ground apart as they were flung through the air.  Raist crashed into one of the trees between two of the razor edges and escaped serious damage.  He switched his weapon to packet mode, morphing the small rounds into larger slugs designed to pierce before blowing apart inside their target.

He aimed at the disk that was readying another rocket and started shooting, catching the white tracers of the Sweep Rifle also on target of the drone.  The thin, fast spray of the Sweep rounds, and Raist’s exploding slugs were pounding away at the machine.  It tilted to one side for a moment, but righted itself.  Raist was sure it was going to fire again until its core exploded and it crashed somewhere into the trees above them.

He was breathing hard, his mind in combat mode, looking around everywhere for the next thing to kill, and with nothing moving for a long time he gradually began to come off his combat high.

Something was hurting his core and looking down, he saw a mat of the spiky grass imbedded into his chest after being propelled by the rocket.  He pulled each out; feeling the distant pain of sucking out the semi-vacuum each projectile had created in his body.

He pushed himself out of the slight cove of his tree and staggered to the clearing.  “Who is alive?”

“We are, but Ziko is hurt,” Philira’s voice had an edge he never heard before in it.

Raist ran over and saw Ziko slumped next to a tree almost exactly like where Raist had been blasted.  The difference was he was moved slightly to one side, right into its sharp edge.

“Zi…ko?” Raist asked nervously.

“Yo, I’m alive, but shit…these plants are even worse than the creatures.”

Ziko’s words made it seem like he was okay, but Raist realized Ziko’s left arm had been cut cleanly off right by the shoulder.  His nanites and suit sealed what was left of the arm to prevent any bleed off; it actually looked like he had a stub arm his entire life with how clean it was.  The fact he could talk clearly was a result of their advanced training, and very tailored drugs to block pain and maintain combat efficiency.

“Your ar—” Philira started, Raist grabbed her and shook his head no.

Project: AKRA pt 5

They are doing an orbital insertion down to the planet…here we go!

 

At this distance the descent suit did not block out the visual yet, and each prepared differently for what was coming.  For Raist he was always struck by the strange sensation of his appreciation of beauty in nature, even as his job was often to kill without remorse.  There was just something in the divine perfection of how color and motion came together.  He sounded stupid when he talked about it, so he tended to keep that part of his thoughts to himself.  It was easier to joke or swear than to be philosophical, or far easier to talk about banging Philira than wonder about reality with those around him.

All five of them had small micro tethers that kept them connected for the duration of the drop, and within the tether was an advanced processor that regulated each motion of their descent suits to keep it descending evenly and without problems.  With no warning the visual went black as spheres enclosed each of them, protecting them as they first hit the atmosphere and to prevent them from catching fire.

He hated this part the most, as nanites were blocking out the sound ever since he launched out of the ship, and now the black provided no distraction for his mind.  It was the questions that bothered him the most.  It was never doubt because he didn’t have any.  More like if his life could have been different, if it should have been different.  Unlike a lot of classes like Scouts, he had choices many of them never did.  With choices came responsibility, and the weights of deaths were weighing on him even if he did not overtly show it.

Did he think too much about things?  His previous Scout, Laiun, told him as much.

He knew above him the descent suit would have streamers deployed to slow their velocity, whipping violently based on the speed they were coming in with.  He knew underneath him the landscapes might now start to be visible, but all that was around him right now was darkness.

Light filled the void as the surrounding sphere melted away above and beyond him.  The planet had changed a lot since he last saw it from space: he could see clouds, the green/purple of plants, even mountains in the distance.  The melting of the sphere reformed into parachutes that variously reformed themselves with the synchronization orders of the rest to ensure the perfect descent of the team onto the planet.

Get through one jungle, a river, more jungle, and then the base of the mountain.  Sounds simple in premise.  Not too far to cross at all.  That mountain didn’t look too far away; he could get there by a single planet cycle.  This was going to be the easiest ‘hard’ mission they ever took.  He could ‘retire’ pretty quick, as he was burning out as a result of the destruction he caused.

That was before something went wrong with their descent system and Ziko suddenly fell out of the pentagon formation.  The rest of them went crashing into the strange upper-story plant life that ripped their advanced suits apart as if they were paper.

As Raist went tumbling to the dark forest floor, his only thought was that he had never felt this much pain this early in a mission before.  He had never lost someone before it even started.

“Ziko!”  He screamed before his head impacted something hard and he blacked out, still falling farther down.

Project: AKRA pt 3

This is a new story I am serializing right now, it is about a group of super elite soldiers sent in to recover ‘AKRA’ from a very hostile planet.  The team is getting ready right now.

 

“I told you guys everything that was said to me,” Raist answered.  “This has the feel of something way beyond what we normally take on.  Most of the time things turn out to only have minor consequences, but just the way the courier was talking, and the price it paid for equipment had the feeling that this was very serious.” Raist opened his eyes and looked right at Ziko then Agrest, hoping to calm his old friend’s worries.  He felt kind of bad leaving out some of the things, like that he was sure the courier was actually a girl, maybe a Scout given the hair color.

“What the hell is an AKRA anyway?”  Ziko stood up, turning in synch with the computerized commands of the machine to change its neutralization pattern.

“Has to be either a robot or comp unit,” Leio guessed as she pulled her arms down and ran her hands through her bright orange hair, shaking it gracefully as it waved down her shoulders.  “‘Data recovery?’ Come on, what else could it be?”

“I’m with you, but those were my words I had said to it,” Raist making sure that distinction was there.  “It was never explicitly stated other than when it said ‘data processing unit’.  The only thing we know for sure is that it has a recovery chip implanted in its system that we will be able to track it down with.”  He pointed over to where his clothes were, and a handheld scanner configured to the tracking chip slowly pulsed, showing that AKRA lay down on the hostile planet below.

Ziko’s question repeated itself in Raist’s mind: what was AKRA, and why was this feeling only getting worse?

***

“I recommend Level-2 survival supplies,” Raist spoke to the four silver-suited figures in front of him.  They were near deployment, grabbing the last of their gear in the armory before their descent.  The suits they had equipped were capable of a high tech camouflage as well as defensive in terms of ballistic attack.  Further, they carried extra medical nanites to synch with each soldier to provide advanced healing and drugs during combat.

“Studying the terrain, I would recommend at least three,” Agrest suggested.

“Go with at least one extra med pack as well,” Leio added.

Raist nodded, deferring to their specialties and around them everyone made necessary changes.

Once their suits were activated, the near-invisibility they provided would blend them in completely to their environment.  Each of them tested their nano-camouflage in turn, rendering each of their various differences in appearance such as the boldness of the two women’s natural hair colors, Agrest’s taller frame, and Ziko’s muscular body all unobservable.  There was only a vague shimmer of light where they were standing.

The technology involved a complex set of data transmission of accurately replicating the light pattern of objects behind the person. By projecting them on the multi-layer crystalline suit in the front, it created something as near invisibility as was visually possible.  It was a perfect invisibility as it used what was behind to person to relay to the front, making it applicable in any environment or any angle

“Expecting this mission will be a siege, or an extraction?”  Agrest asked, but he had already loaded many supplies; he knew how often the role of the Sniper meant he would be in hostile territory far longer than anyone expected.

If anyone was watching the room, they would be disturbed by the supplies and weapons floating in air like ghosts before they disappeared as they were pocketed or filed away in a cloaked backpack.

“We are running it as an extraction, but the terrain is extremely hostile, as I hope you guys had studied.  I am not over estimating this at all.”  Raist’s second statement was unnecessary to his crew. They all knew him well: he was not the type to exaggerate danger, at least before they went into it.  That fact actually put a bit of caution into their minds.

“The combat drones we have sent have been shot down at about halfway to planet-side,” Leio said, decloaking as she pulled up a holo of their target and the visualization of the effective kill zone around it.  Her tight combat suit left her still looking very attractive, perhaps more so with the way it hung tight to her legs and butt.  “Their air defenses are extremely solid, and even our low flying drones were killed when they approached horizontally.”

“From what I have seen, the forest looks extremely dense,” said Philira.  The voice came from a barely-visible ghost holding a Plaz-Shot Scattergun.  Only her tone was any clue as to whom had said the statement.  “I see why you chose this path.  Even if they knew we were in there, there would be no way to locate us for termination.”  ‘Termination’…only a Scout would so distantly comment on their likely death that way.

Proud Infinity – end

Well here is the long awaited end of the story, please leave likes and comments!

 

My mind was still trying to comprehend everything when she started laughing, “I thought it was really funny about your white blood cell thought.  In a way, that kind of more accurately describes me.  I was ‘born’ to combat this problem, and now that it’s over, so is my purpose.  It may be hard for you to comprehend, but I am far more ‘white blood celled’ as you phrased it than you.”

“Why are you a girl though?  There are way too many aliens out there for me to believe that the universe’s form would be a Solarian.”

She laughed a long time at that.  “Hardly.  I was simply created in the form that the reactive element would find most pleasing.  As you are a heterosexual Solarian, this form seems sufficient, did it not?”

I started laughing.  “Wow, I remember you saying something like that a million times ago it seems.  No, you are perfect, but that’s what you were created to be, right?  Created in such a way I would find you impossibly intriguing, all to ensure I interacted with the element to stop the fracture.  So I don’t get it, I still am confused about two things.  You actually did stop those bullets in that battle right?  But how?”

“As you know, I am actually a physical element in true physical reality, but to make it so I appear to multiple people is hard.  But did I in any way change the reality of what those soldiers thought might be happening?  To them, they would never know where a spray of rounds ends up, so because you did not die, they simply would think they had missed, all at the cost of my energy of maintaining a physical body.”

I continued, “The other is you sometimes used the plural when we talked about this succeeding, and it was always like ‘it will happen, We won’t allow it to fail’ kind of thing.  It almost sounds like you have done this before?  Or is that some sort of ‘we are all connected thing’? ”

“No, to your first, yes to your second.  I am simply stating the connection We all have with everything.  I was created solely for this fracture.  I still have the knowledge of the universe though, for I am a major part of it.  I think I had told you before that the fracture would be created endlessly until it was fixed.  I had complete confidence it would come to completion.”

“So will you…can you stay with me?”

“Of course!  We will be together forever.  I will stay with you in this form while your physicality lasts, and I will personally escort and stay with your consciousness through the Line.  I think it is a way of the universe saying thanks!” she stated happily.

“Ha, so are you the prize for my service or what?”

“Is that what you think of me?  I would not think so.”

“No, you are right.  By the end of all of this, I was not doing any of it for myself, or for the universe, none of that.  By the end I was doing it for you.  Those million iterations, we became friends on a level beyond just you needing me to do something.  I hope it was not just some attraction created into you, because it feels very real.  We connected by consciousness or maybe it was our soul.  On the level where we are often alone, we…or I did anyway, felt like I was not alone.  Not in the place it counted.”

Her eyes were crying tears of happiness. “I do not know if I could have phrased it better about connection on that strange level.  I am proud of what you did Tre, infinitely so.”

“Ha!” I hugged her tight, weak as it was. “I think I definitely got the best universe incarnation, for sure.”

“Me too!” she laughed giddily.  “The reacting agent I mean!”

“Oh damn, my hair!”  In the reflection of a console, I noticed my hair was haggard-looking from being locked up so long, but the thing that had changed was now it was completely neon white.

“Yes, that is what happens to Solarians who have had contact with beings like myself.  I am composed of a high concentration of Axls, and such levels are deadly to you.  Well it would be if I let my essence out of control.  At the very least though, I constantly radiate them, and it causes you to be stronger and faster, but it leads to you dying earlier…and the white hair.”

“Damn, that’s pretty scary.  Being in love with you is killing me?”

“It is, in a way, but do not worry.”

“You will protect me, right?  You always have.”

“And I always will, Trego.”

“Forever?” I asked.

“For infinity.”

Proud Infinity pt 32

Trego is in jail wondering if everything was just a dream.

 

“You would forsake me so fast?”  It was her voice.  I wondered how long before I would start hallucinating about her.

“Fuck you, go away,” I said to the darkness.  Damn, I hated just being used.  I kind of wanted to shoot her if the circumstances were such that way again.

Her…the cause of everything.  Guess it was not too long.  It was in the shadows of despair within my mind and the actual darkness in this cell that I definitely started to hate her.  I felt used beyond redemption.  White blood celled.

The bag was pulled off of my head, and her bright blue eyes were almost touching mine.  She smiled was wide as she brought her face back.  “Hi Tre!  My, what have they done to you?”

“Unfortunately…” my voice came haggard.  I had not spoken in a long time, and being deprived of water left my throat dry.  “My race has… our less than… glorious… moments towards each other.  Are you… real?  Or just here to…to torment me before I die?”

I honestly expected her to disappear, or maybe appear as the guy who was probably going to torture me.  But she stepped forward, putting her hands on my arms, and something happened as I was falling towards her.  I landed in her chest as she held me gently.  My arms hung limply at my side and I definitely could not feel them.

“Proud…you are real…” I mumbled, feeling her actually hugging me and feeling overwhelmed by that fact as I whimpered softly.

“Of course.  Why would I not be?  I had promised I would protect you, did I not?”

“Did…you?  Can’t… remember.  I can’t move…hunger…pain.  My arms…”

“I know.  I know.”  She held me there, and something warm was flowing from her into me.  I felt a strange awareness come over me, an awareness I once possessed slowly come back to me.

“Healing,” I stated and she nodded.  I could at least walk, even if I felt weak and out of it.  “But how can we get out of here?  I thought you cannot influence reality that much?”

“I have gotten stronger.  I am still limited, but enough to get you out of here.  I had to wait until everyone in your near reality counted on you dying.  To that reality it makes no difference if you actually die, or are simply gone.  The jail guard was killed in an accident today, he was the only one who knew you weren’t actually dead yet.”

“Complicated rules.”

Her eyes widened a bit at the simple truth of my statement.  “Indeed.  It is time we go.”

“Uh, are we going to teleport or something?  I don’t think we can just walk out.”

She disappeared, and I certainly did not make the trip with her.  “Uh, Proud?”

The door to my cell opened, and she was the one that had done it.  “Come on.”

“And if we are caught?”

“I will protect you.  It will not happen though.  Stay close.” She offered her hand and I reached for it, but my hand did not move.  She bent down, grabbing it, and I noticed my emaciated arm that she had taken.  I had been in this delusional state in this dark cell for longer than I likely knew.

At the very end of the hallway, I tried tugging her back as I saw the shadow of a guard coming.  She shook her head and sure enough the form on the wall had turned around and started walking away without ever turning the corner.  We walked through some sort of facility, and it was uncanny that at every turn someone would be walking through the opposite door, or turned engaged in something.  We continued in the strange ballad of perfect timing until we came out to a ship pad.

Proud Infinity pt 31

Getting close to the end, what is going to happen!?

 

I woke back up, eventually, and was still in chains.  Okay, so this was definitely ‘reality’ as much as I had flirted with different states of that word.  My mind went through a few scenarios on what exactly this meant.  There appeared to be no doubt I did indeed bomb the ReCorp building.  Sounds like I am probably slated to be executed here, maybe after I’m tortured awhile to see what I can produce as far as my contacts or whom I was working for.  It was all for a girl, man, all for some crazy girl.

Proud.  Hmm, did she really exist?  Evidently Mitreah did, as the info screen referenced her.  Yet, I could have sworn that Proud absorbed some bullets that would have laid me out.

Did I really live all those cycles over?  Of course.  I had to have, because how else could I have gotten that bomb, or found Mitreah’s secret phrase, or figure out the perfect paths for everything?  Or…what if I always had that bomb and Mitreah was given to me from a shadowy contact?  Was I an agent programmed to forget what exactly I was doing, and come up with some massively delusional story to hide the simple truth that I was just a terrorist against the Solarian Federation?

Damn, was that the truth?  It was true I could not remember even two cycles ago.  Ha, holy shit, I literally could not remember what had happened two cycles ago.

Had my secret neural trigger activated and blanked everything out?  “Uhh…” I tried moving my arms, and groaned from the pain of the wrist locks and my arms not being able to move.

“Proud…were you just a lie?  Was everything just a lie?”  Was I just an agent with his combat android sent to eliminate whatever advantage the Federation was developing here?

Another thought came to me.  What if indeed the cycle reset over and over, and that was simply Proud’s goal from the beginning: not so much saving the universe, but simply preventing the time fracture after which I no longer mattered?  I prevented it, so her goal was accomplished.  Why would she care about one stupid little Solarian locked up for his crimes?  This was especially true if it was for the whole universe’s sake.  As long as I did my duty, I was completely expendable.  Wow…that was fucked up.  I got played hard.  Maybe I would have cried, but the emotion felt foreign to me.  Distant.

 

***

 

Sometime later – ha what an ironic word, ‘sometime’ –  I had thought I had lost my arms.  I could no longer feel them, and it had been at least a few cycles as my hunger had disappeared, replaced by the slow consumption of myself.  In the pain and dark despair I eventually decided that I probably did indeed experience a time fracture, and Proud was real, but I had done what she wanted all along and there was no reason to ‘save’ me or ever even say anything to me again.  Hell, I fucked her and shot her to make it even worse.

Do we cry over a white blood cell that kills itself in our service?  Hardly.  All we do is expect them to make that decision again and again.  And I was probably worth infinitely less.

I was just a single white blood cell.  It was the metaphor I had settled on.  I did my part to help pull the universe out of the problem it was in.  Proud was some director, and I did my sacrifice, everything else moved on.  Wow…I hadn’t felt so abandoned in a while.  Yet I sympathized in a way.  I did not care about the individual blood cells dying to save me.  Why would the universe?

Proud Infinity pt 30

Here we go guys, getting near the end, I hope you are ready for some pretty big plot twists!

 

In a moment I realized it partly might have been a distraction.  From two sides we were attacked.  Mitreah was engaged with one group on the other side of the room.

“Tre!” Proud yelled my name.  I glanced to my left seeing her form between me and a squad that had come into the door.  The next instant her form was bending over as the rounds from their rifles were entering her body.  Her body moved a bit, dancing slowly from their energy hitting her.  I had once found out she truly could take rounds in our physical dimension if she ‘lowered’ herself enough to the base level, but was bound by certain rules regarding the consequence.

“Proud!”  I yelled to her slumping form as I lifted my unlimited Liner pistol and unloaded round after electro-magnetically propelled round into the group, leaving them holed and dead.  I had taken out four skilled men with a commercially available pistol.  That is how far I had come.

“Proud!”  I yelled again, running to her.

She was kneeling, and turned her head towards me, tears in her eyes.  “It hurts.  What a terrible sensation!  In future resets do not stand there so I will not have to feel this.”  She managed a grim smile and went back to looking downwards.  From her body there was not blood leaking out, but rather a light blue energy that was barely visible from her bullet holes before disappearing in the air.  Her eyes were closed, and despite how bad her body was massacred, I would almost swear the wounds were disappearing, but why were her eyes closed!?

“Proud!”  I yelled again, and then my eyes went wide as a fire ripped through my shoulder.  The momentum from the bullet entered my shoulder and threw me to the ground, stumbling forward over Proud.  I hit the ground, and panic from the pain threatened to completely take over my mind.  Only the simple thought of noticing Proud trying to get back up kept me sane.

I lifted my head to see a heavily armed squad from the other door that was firing at Mitreah.  A huge round entered her body, exploding out from her backside along with a grim mix of organic tissue and metallic substrates.  She staggered for a moment and continued onwards into the fire.  Another round hit her in her other arm, a piece of it flying off from the energy.  I could visibly see how much momentum there was pushing against her in bullets as she staggered forward.

She stabbed the first one though the chest as another round from the man next to him ripped through her body.  I saw her pause for a moment, gathering strength perhaps for her slash out of that body into the next one.  It cut the next man in half while the final man backed up professionally, firing coldly at the target in front of him.

“Mitreah!” I yelled, coughing from the pain.  I thought she was going to go down right there with her slumping form.  She was slowly going down, then I saw a poise take over her body as she launched at her final target, stabbing her arm into him, pulling downwards as the two of them fell into each other, dead or dying.

Another person came from the other door.  I used much of my focus I had gained with Mitreah while in extreme pain to line my pistol up and shoot the two of them dead before they could do anything to our wounded party.

‘No…It doesn’t end like this.’  I tried standing up, and when it failed I contented myself with crawling over to the railing.  Below me was a spherical core of blue and white energy that hung suspended between two huge rotating metal braces, a white light softly radiating outwards.  Though the light was white, I knew its true evil nature.  I had been its victim enough times.

I activated the bomb, and lay there as a thought hit me.  Should I just abort and try again?  But…a deep fear came to the surface that maybe indeed this was ‘real’, that I had no second chance, and that all my lives were really just an illusion; that thought seemed easier to dismiss, but the idea that something critical had changed and I would not reset seemed likely.  At the very least what if something had changed by me being so far in here?  I could not take the chance.  The sacrifices to get here been too great to risk it ending in failure.

I pressed on both out of a fear that maybe this really was my only life, and another feeling of if I really had lived a million lives that I just wanted this to end.  I rolled to my side, grasping the bomb with the opposite, non-shot hand, and laughing once as I pitched it off the edge to the core a few stories under me.  So this is how it ends…

I turned back around, maybe ready to die when I saw those three scientists still there.  “Like I’m letting you out of here.  We are all dying here.”  I lifted my pistol and shot the three of them who tried to run, before I felt fire enter my stomach from a different angle and I blacked out.

 

***

 

“Uhh…pain…” I woke up half expecting the softness of my pillow I had seen so many times.  But this time I was already standing, my body was trying to fall down held up by what seemed to be chains on my wrists.

“So the terrorist is finally awake, huh?”  There was a voice in front of me.  Something painful hit me in the stomach, and I coughed hard as my head swung back and forth.  I felt some saliva leaking out of my mouth, but I could barely bring myself to swallow it.  What was going on?

“Why did you do it, Trego?  Why’d you sell out your whole race?” the voice asked.  I couldn’t see anything.  Was I blind?  Fear flooded me at the thought of never seeing again.  “Is ‘Trego’ even your real name?  Who are you an agent for!?”

No strikes to my body from the voice, and no further prompts for a while let me think about what was just said.  Something critical had changed in my reality.  I definitely was not where I usually was when I ‘died’ or the cycle ended.  Was the loop I was in over?  The voice said selling out my race and being an agent.  I remember once a long time ago I had indeed thought that maybe I was part of an experiment to see how long I would go before I’d break.  Was this what it was about?

I thought not though, because I had lasted impossibly long.  I had resorted to killing myself before going through with this; what more would a military or whatever want with me?  How could I have passed the test any more so when I resisted for so long?

“What race?” I asked the darkness.  Maybe I was not even Solarian, just a butterfly dreaming he was…

Damn, was I really an agent?  No way…but why did I decide to blow up a reactor?