Cyber Knight/War Journal: First Contact
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
“Please Jack, come this way. I already know why you’re here.” She purred in that English accent of hers.
The Lady Grey opened a door that led into a hallway before them, Slayton frowned slightly. This woman had always managed to figure him out, and on some level it annoyed him.
As they walked down the hallway she spoke up. “So, what would your organization want with our little project?”
The hallway opened up to a walkway that spanned over what amounted to a hangar. Jack stopped for a moment and looked over the railing. Technicians, scientists, and maintenance crews were working diligently to prep multimillion-dollar lab equipment. “I wouldn't call it little.” He responded dryly.
The Lady Grey smiled slightly, and took Jacks arm. “The operations room is just up ahead you can see him in action for yourself.”
Jack grimaced slightly and followed her into a room overlooking the hangar. Inside looked like NASA launch command, and an entire team worked, devoted entirely to this project.
As they walked into the room a young man in glasses with a French accent approached. “I’m sorry to interrupt you ma’am but we have a problem.” Grey instantly became serious “What’s the situation?” the young man stuttered for a moment pushing his glasses up his nose as he nervously eyed the one of the .357 combat revolvers that Jack had holstered on him. “Um, we received a distress transmission from strike team 5. The message was incomplete. All we know is that they’ve taken casualties, and their current location.”
The Lady Grey let go of Jacks arm and moved to look over the shoulder of a woman at the consoles. “Where is he?” she asked.
“The H.D.A.W.S. unit is en route as we speak ma’am” the young woman replied as she operated the terminal.
Lady Grey smiled slightly “Excellent, bring the tactical and visual data up on the main screen. Well Jack. You wanted to see him for yourself. Now is your chance.”
“Echo, turn that shit off’
Cherry 9 and Echo-3 were speeding through the devastated ruins of the war zone in an old beat up junker of a car that Echo had managed to get working after the completion of an Op. It certainly beat hoofing it back. The Op had been simple enough; destroy a cache of Rikti weapons that were being stored in one of the abandoned buildings on the far side of the zone. It didn’t help that Echo made it a priority to get the radio working and was now listening to Elvis.
“Come on, Cherry. This is good stuff.” Cherry shot Echo a look. To which he sighed and ripped the jury rigged radio out and tossed it out of the back of the car. “Some people just can’t appreciate the classics.”
Cherry rolled her eyes. “That crap is distractin’ and it’s giving me a hea….” Cherry’s radio shot to life. “Thi.. Strike ..am.. Five ….under ….ack …..Casualties…. Co…inates are ….follows…” Cherry listened intently then checked her GPS. “They’re not far from here. Make a right up ahead.”
“You got it.” Echo said as he expertly careened around the corner with bald tires screeching the whole way as Cherry held on for dear life.
Within minutes they’d reached an area of the zone where several tall buildings stood. Some of them had been cut in half as the mothership crashed to earth years before. Cherry took another glance at her GPS as she leapt out of the car and leveled her rifle in the direction of one of the smaller intact office buildings. “It’s that one over there.” She said as she looked over at Echo who seemed distracted as he was looking around “What is it?”
Echo listened for a moment as he shouldered his gear. “Do you hear… artillery fire? Why the hell are they shelling the zone? There are friendlies all over out here.” Cherry stopped for a moment and listened, slipping her GPS into its case, the sound was like thunder in the distance, the rhythmic series of booms as what sounded like 155mm Howitzer’s were loaded and fired.
“I dunno, as long as they’re not shelling this area I’ll be happy. Lets go.” Cherry said as she started for the door of the building where the distress call had come from with her rifle leveled and Echo right behind her. As they approached the door they found it open slightly. Performing a tactical entry and clear, they opened the door and rushed in ready to eliminate any enemies that were present. What they found inside was much more disheartening. The air smelled of charred meat and ozone. Smoke hung heavily in the air. And the corpses of Rikti and Vanguard alike lined the hallway in front of them.
“This is bad, very very bad.” Echo thought out loud. Cherry agreed silently, and motioned for them to advance further into the building. The scenery didn’t get better. The bodies of the Rikti in the hall before had been perforated by Armor piercing rounds. And the bodies of the Vanguard strike team had the familiar burns of Rikti Plasma blasts. The bodies of the Rikti further in showed signs of something different, their armor had been rended and torn as if they’d squared off against a battering ram and had lost, horribly.
Echo stopped for a moment and cocked his head to one side. “What the hell? Is that artillery getting closer?” Echo whispered. Cherry took notice of it too but before she could respond the entire building started to buckle and move. “Son of a bitch!” she shouted as she tried to keep her balance as the building heaved and as debris fell all over them. Their first thought was the same, That this was the area that they were shelling. And they both dismissed that same thought when the building stopped shaking just as suddenly as it had started.
“Those were not artillery impacts.” Echo said as he steadied himself and checked his six. “I know. That felt more like a fucking earthqua..!” Cherry’s response was cut short as they both fell to the floor when the building heaved again as if a wrecking ball had hit it. “OUT! OUT NOW!” Cherry shouted keeping the command clear and concise.
The building rocked back and forth as both Cherry and Echo made their run for the entrance of the building. Once they got outside they headed for the junker only to be knocked down when a section of the building exploded behind them as a very large projectile shot out from under it and careened into the third floor of the abandoned building across the street, caving it in. As they picked themselves up from the ground they both looked up to that hole in the third floor to see just what could have caused the destruction. And at the same time they both wished they hadn’t known. Something big started to shove away the rubble, it was when it’s head rose from the debris Cherry felt a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. She’d seen the intel reports, and had questioned their accuracy until this very moment. She could see through the billowing smoke clad in black and blood red armor, U'Kon Gr'ai stood to his full height of fifteen feet tall before reaching down to pick up his plasma sword.
Both stood there for a moment almost paralyzed, until another sound from behind them grabbed their attention, years of training kicked in as they spun around with rifles leveled to see a metal hand reach out from the hole in the building they had just been in and pull itself out from the ground. Clad in blue and silver it crawled from the hole in the ground making whirring noises with every movement. It eyed U’Kon for a moment before looking to Cherry and Echo, Cherry could swear she saw eyes under the blue visor, and she was suddenly less concerned about it than she was the massive Rikti behind her.
Cherry’s rifle was still leveled at the blue and silver titan. At about nine and a half feet tall it wasn’t nearly as big as U’Kon but imposing nonetheless. U’Kon jumped down from the building to the street level below, the landing causing sections of the pavement to crack and turn upward around him. Echo kept his rifle trained on the giant Rikti. “Cherry, we need to get the hell out of here.” Cherry didn’t respond, but she nodded, knowing they were in trouble. They could sense the anger emanating from the Rikti and the near sense of glee that there were more humans to kill. And with that U’Kon charged, the ground trembled at his approach, his plasma sword raised to make swipe that would kill them both.
It was the sudden and deceptively quick movement of the machine that surprised Cherry the most, and the fact that it placed itself between them and U’Kon. The machine blocked the initial blow with its forearm, sparks flew as the plasma met metal, the second strike came from overhead, the machine caught the Rikti by the wrists, and stopped the blow. The ground giving way and crumbling around its feet as the two met in a test of raw strength.
Cherry grabbed Echo by the collar “Come on! We have to get to cover!” she yelled. They ran and dove over a nearby pile of debris, turning back to watch the two behemoths do battle.
The machine pushed back hard forcing U’Kon back several feet, and now it was his turn. The machine cocked its arm back and leveled a punch to U’Kon’s midsection. The sudden and raw power of the impact was loud and caused a shockwave that could be felt in the ground and could be felt passing through the human body. A flurry of similar punches followed in succession. “Christ, was that the artillery we were hearing?” Echo shouted over the sound. Cherry didn’t respond, but she knew that’s exactly what they’d heard. And the tremors they’d felt had been a fight underground.
One of the blows caused U’Kon to bend over leaving his face open as a massive bull’s-eye. The next hit produced a loud “Crack!” and cleanly blasted the massive Rikti off its feet and sent it soaring. But before he could travel very far the machine had a hold of its foot and pulled it back. U’Kon seemed to hover for a moment laying on a bed of air as the machine leveled a double fisted downward smash that drove Alien into the pavement with enough force to shatter the asphalt and produce a depression in the ground the resulting shockwave rattled the buildings in the area causing glass to crack and rubble to fall.
But it wasn’t enough to stop the giant. Reaching up with its free hand it grabbed the machine by the head and started to squeeze, it was enough for U’Kon to get back up and launch his opponent into a nearby concrete wall with enough force to cause it to crack and give away some. The machine tried to stand but the alien was already upon it. Leveling a flurry of punches to the machines head, causing it to depress further into the concrete with every blow. Backing off for a moment the machine fell to the ground. U’Kon didn’t miss the opportunity to stomp on the back of its head repeatedly, driving it deep into the pavement.
It was at that moment two distinct “Thoomp” sounds were heard as m204 grenades impacted against U’Kon’s back. The giant turned and narrowed his eyes on Cherry and Echo. Who were now reloading additional grenades. U’Kon reached again for is blade, confident as he approached they would prove to be no problem at all. Two more distinct “Thoomp” sounds as two more grenades impacted. U’Kon raised his blade as Cherry and Echo were about to run, when there was suddenly another massive impact and the Cherry and Echo were showered in the splintering of wood and stone. U’Kon flew about thirty feet before coming to rest, pavement and stone upturned as he slid. Before them stood the machine wielding an uprooted telephone pole like a baseball bat, both Cherry and Echo allowed themselves s a momentary grin.
But it didn’t last long, they both leveled their rifles at the machine still not sure who’s side it was on. And both opened fire when it looked like it started to charge. Bullets and tracer rounds ricocheted off the metal titan but there was no attack it quickly kneeled down as several plasma blasts hit it’s back providing cover for the two soldiers. Cherry could smell the burned Ozone as the plasma scorched the air around them. The machine stood up and turned, the sun glinted off of its visor as moved to face its enemy, its back glowing red from the heat of the plasma.
Cherry grabbed Echo by the arm, “We need to get the hell out of here. This is only going to get worse.” Using what little cover they had they started to make their way across the street to the junker. They both knew it was the only way they were going to get out of there fast enough. The two titans squared off for a moment until they both charged. Cherry and Echo reached the car and looked back just as the two slammed into one another in another test of strength, each one trying to gain the upper hand on the next move.
As they reached the car Echo jumped and slid over the hood and dove into the drivers’ seat in an attempt to start the car, Cherry turned around to make sure they were safe for the moment, the fight going on only meters away was starting to go south as U’Kon was starting to gain the upper hand. “Hurry it up Echo!” Cherry shouted as she shouldered her rifle and put her sights on the Rikti and swore to herself knowing it wouldn’t do much, but draw unwanted attention. The metal titan had lost position and was now being pummeled viciously.
Cherry looked back over her shoulder at Echo who was furiously trying to start the engine. “Damn it Echo!” Cherry shouted. “The car won’t fucking start, its dead!” Echo shouted back, the aggravation in knowing that they were stuck was evident in his voice. U’Kon looked over at the two soldiers. They could feel the pure rage emanating from the psychic alien “Ok out! Out of the car we’re moving NOW!” Cherry ordered. Echo grabbed his gear and they both ran for cover. U’Kon had the machine by the throat and was grinding it into the ground as he turned and ran at the two soldiers leaving a trail of sparks and upturned asphalt in its wake. U’Kon reached the car and smashed the blue and silver titan into it, the wreck of a car folding around the metal titan.
Cherry and Echo were now scrambling over a pile of debris hoping to get out of sight as fast as they could. U’Kon looked to the humans, amused for a moment that they would try to run. He raised his plasma blade to deliver the final blow to this mechanical annoyance, driving it down with all his strength he didn’t expect what happened. The machine reached up grabbing the blade itself, the two struggled for a moment until the machine started to crush the blade altogether. The low hum that the Rikti weapon emitted changed to a loud whine as internal components lost integrity. The explosion was sudden and powerful enough to knock U’Kon off his feet. Echo and Cherry could see the machine through the thick black smoke as it extracted itself from the twisted remnants of the junker and got to it’s feet, Cherry noted that for a moment it looked like the Titan clutched its side in pain.
The massive Rikti was about to stand as a massive mailed fist emerged from the smoke and hit it squarely in the face, U’Kon slid backwards another fifteen feet. In a heartbeat the blue and silver titan was already on him grabbing his leg he lifted it high over his head and slammed U’Kon into the pavement face first like a weightless sack of potatoes then started to drag the rikti in a circle progressively getting faster. U’Kon struggled against the grip of the titan but it was useless, as U’Kon’s head smashed through the corner of a wall. The titan launched U’Kon skyward toward the side of a building the alien smashed through the seventh floor of a high-rise, the titan didn’t waste a moment as crouched down and leapt up after U’Kon.
When the two were out of sight Echo grabbed Cherry by the shoulder. “Come on. Now’s our chance to get clear without being seen.” Cherry moved slowly, slightly engrossed with the sounds of fighting coming from the wreck of a building “Yeah, we need to go.” They started to head down the pile of debris away from the fight hoping they could get back to the vanguard HQ when an explosion rocked the building behind them, they both looked over their shoulders to see that U’Kon Gr’ai had burst a new hole in the side of the building and was now airborne in a leap that would most certainly cut the two soldiers off, and in his massive hands was the titan. U’Kon launched the blue and silver titan down toward ground hard enough to punch a hole into the ground and down into the caves that honeycombed the area. The two soldiers skidded to a halt as U’Kon landed before them then leapt into the smoking crater to go after his adversary, Once he was out of sight they continued running. The ground shook underneath them as the familiar rhythmic thunder crack of artillery in the distance resumed with infinite fury.
They ran as fast as they could hoping to put distance between them and the destruction behind them, it was when a massive “Boom!” followed by a five foot tall bulge appeared in the street ahead of them throwing debris in all directions like a land mine, they knew they hadn’t escaped it yet. The sound of thunder and the shaking of the ground continued as they ran past it, another “Boom!” followed by yet another bulge in the road ten feet to their left. Thirty feet later another “Boom!” followed by a bulge that emerged right behind them, and nearly blew them off their feet. The thunder and the tremors grew more furious as the two regained their footing and tried to run faster. They heard the familiar “Boom!” one last time followed by the machine blasting through the pavement skyward, and into the side of a building, as it impacted it left a depression in the wall then fell four stories to the ground below, cracking the pavement upon it’s landing.
Cherry and Echo came to a halt looked frantically for another path as the titan landed ahead of them and to their left. U’Kon was the next to emerge from the newly created hole in the ground, it eyed the titan for a moment which was slowly getting up, then looked squarely at the two soldiers. He was tired of this game, he had seen the lengths the titan would go to keep these two alive, and he knew killing them would tear down his opponent that much more. U’Kon charged them and the ground shook with each of his massive strides as Cherry and Echo braced themselves to dodge the incoming attack. U’Kon’s momentum was diverted when the titan slammed into him. But U’Kon stopped the titan’s momentum with a solid strike to it’s back driving it into the asphalt.
Echo and Cherry ran for cover, it was then a different sound caught Cherry’s attention. She looked skyward and saw what might as well have been their personal angel. As the slid down behind the pile of debris she motioned to Echo and pointed to the V-22 Osprey that was circling their position. “Vanguard search and rescue. We might just make it out of this hole in the ground alive.” She said. The titan slowly started to get up, U’Kon cocked his arm back to punch his opponent but his fist was caught by the titan before it could connect, the titan squeezed and twisted U’Kon’s hand to forcing its face to his level, where a punch of its own was waiting, the rikti reeled from the blow. Cherry and Echo watched as the titan delivered several more blows to the alien’s midsection, each blow sent out a concussive shockwave. But something was wrong, they could see the titan was growing tired, the Impacts were growing less and less forceful.
Cherry’s radio came to life. “S.C.O.R.P.I.O. Operatives this is Vanguard search and rescue one. Do you read?” Cherry keyed her radio “Search and rescue one we read you. And we’re damn glad down here to hear your voice!” The response was prompt. “Roger that. We have dropped purple smoke in the only clear landing zone to your east. Can you make it there? Over.” Cherry and Echo crawled over the debris and saw the smoke, it was just down the street in the intersection. Between them and their destination the fight between the titan and U’Kon Gr’ai was in the process leveling a building. “You have to be fucking kidding me!” Cherry yelled. “Doesn’t look like we’re getting any breaks today are we captain?” Echo mused sarcastically. Cherry grimaced and swore again under her breath as she keyed her radio. “Yeah we can make it just keep that thing off our ass.” With that the titan threw U’Kon into the building as the structure started to give way. The multiple stories started to pancake down upon each other and bury the alien.
Cherry and Echo climbed from cover and made one their final run toward the landing zone. The Osprey came in fast and hot, landing and unloading eight armed Vanguard soldiers to secure the immediate perimeter. U’Kon Gr’ai shoved the rubble away in a rage and charged the titan nearly bowling over the two soldiers running through the billowing smoke and debris. The two traded a series of punches before the titan fell to one knee. U’Kon lifted it up by the neck and looked it in the eye for a moment considering what it should do to finish it off, that was until it took notice of the noise from the rotors of the Osprey and seeing the two soldiers about to reach the rescue team. U’Kon dropped the titan he would not be robbed of his kill. Echo ran up the Osprey’s ramp while Cherry paused for a moment and looked back as the Vanguard team started loading up.
U’Kon was thundering towards them determined to kill them all. The voices of Echo and the Vanguard urging her to get the rest of the way up the ramp seemed far away as U’Kon closed in the last twenty meter stretch. He’d have made it too if a pair or metallic arms didn’t close around his midsection, the titan kneeled a little, then jumped. Cherry, Echo and the vanguard troops watched as the two adversaries flew to over two hundred and fifty feet skyward. The titan spun, throwing the massive alien to earth away from the landing zone. The Titan landed near nearby cracking the asphalt around him, while U’Kon slammed into the pavement over one hundred fifty yards away. Cherry stood on the ramp with her hand on the bulkhead as the Osprey started to take off. The titan raised its left arm, sections of armor and metal began to move and pulled away, reorganizing themselves so that the hand was non-existent, revealing a Cannon glowing a luminescent blue. Particles of light coalesced as a power source spun up, the titan took aim and fired. The resulting blast tore up the ground as the cavitation of the energy ripped it all away. U’Kon had just stood up as the blast reached him connecting with his midsection. The explosive force of the blast rocked the Osprey and was felt at the Vanguard operations center over a mile away.
Cherry moved and sat down next to Echo. “We need to talk to Slayton about a raise.” She mused with a slight grin on her dirt-smudged face. Echo smiled “At this point I just want a shower and to sleep for a week.” and leaned his head back on the bulkhead. Over a mile away from the point of impact U’Kon picked his way through the rubble. His armor melted and shattered. He had just enough time to activate his emergency teleport before he lost consciousness.
Jack Slayton stood back and watched with interest as telemetry data from the Cyber Knight H.D.A.W.S. unit particle cannon filled the main screen. Lady Grey watched the medical readouts of the pilot as they poured in. “How is he?” she inquired. The young man working medical piped up. “Ma’am, there’s a lot of internal damage. The nanites are working at full capacity, but it will be about a week or so by my estimates before he’s back to one hundred percent again.”
She looked over at the telemetry screens and took note at the final entry. -=Rikti Capture Protocols Re-enabled=- -=Particle Cannon: Offline=-
She sighed slightly and looked over to Jack. “I told you the A.I. would release the lockdown on the black box systems, Lets head to main hangar I would like to thank your people myself for risking their lives to try and save our team.” She took Jack by the arm. And started to lead him to the door. “We can discuss the details over that dinner you owe me.”
“Owe you?” Jack looked over at her his expression stoic. “Yes. You don’t remember? You stood me up for dinner in 1944.” Jack Grimaced slightly. This woman had always managed to figure him out, and on some level it annoyed him.