Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
After the last mission, Shannon wakes up to find herself separated from Alex and the rest of his team in a very strange place. This turns out to be the least of her worries as she also finds herself stuck in the middle of a weapons deal gone terribly sour!
Shannon slowly opened her eyes. Her head throbbed and her vision was blurred as she involuntarily coughed chunks of wet graininess from her throat. `Uhhh, What happened?` she thought, rolling herself over onto her back before moaning in agony from the stinging pain in her left shoulder.
The loader’s laser had burnt its way through her skin and muscle tissue. She couldn’t remember much else after that. Her thoughts were a mess of chaos and confusion as she closed her eyes and tried to focus them with little success. It felt as though her entire being had been turned inside out and her stomach hurt very badly.
Initially too weakened to stand, she lay on the ground and allowed the sun’s rays to beat down on her for a few minutes before once again opening her eyes. For some reason, the sun seemed to be surprisingly bright and the sky was unbelievably clear. It was the most beautiful sky she had ever seen in her entire life.
Unable to see anything due to a large boulder blocking her view, the young girl slowly and painfully rolled over and forced herself to her feet. For some unknown reason, her strength seemed to be returning at an alarming rate. Even the pain in her shoulder began to steadily subside as if being soothed by some mysterious power.
Placing her hand on the ground for support, she began to take notice of her surroundings. “Sand?” she questioned before wiping some of the soft particles from her cheek. Picking up a clump of it, she examined it in her hand. It was very white and pure, nothing like the sand she remembered at all.
Just then a torrent of images began to flash through her head as her memory quickly began to return at once forcing her back to her knees before she managed to recover and once again gain control of herself. Closing her eyes, she remembered her brother, the children in Sector 22, her capture at the food storage facility, her timely rescue by Alex, their fight at the uplink station in Sector 28, their narrow escape with Vince, their return to Octagon, her night with Alex in the cafeteria lounge, and finally the base in Area 41.
“The base…” she thought aloud opening her eyes once more as she recalled the team`s last mission. Apparently she had somehow managed to make it out of the base and to safety before the meltdown occurred. But if that were the case, where was the rest of the team?
“Alex…” she called softly, scanning the area for him. There was no sign of him or anyone else for that matter. Dutch and Naomi were also nowhere to be found. Panicked, she tried to focus her mind enough to lock on to them telepathically. It was no good. The more she concentrated, the more her head hurt.
“Alex… Nao… No…” she whispered, slumping to the sand-covered floor below and hugging the clump of sand in her hand to her chest as an unbearable feeling of loss and loneliness consumed her. Unable to control herself any longer, she began to cry as the harsh reality of what must have taken place in her absence slowly settled upon her. None of the others had survived the mission and for some reason, she was the only left.
She had no clue as to how she had managed to escape the base, but considering that she couldn’t remember anything after being shot except for a brief glimpse of Alex reaching for her, she speculated that he probably had a lot to do with her survival. Perhaps he had carried her away from danger at some point. She didn’t know for sure. Even so, the thought of not seeing him again caused her body to tremble with grief as tears continued to flow freely down her face.
She continued to cry silently for a while before a strange, yet familiar sound caught her ears. Almost involuntarily, she slowly stood to her feet and began to walk towards the sound as if being pulled by some unseen force. Reaching the edge of the boulder that had been blocking her view, she stopped dead in her tracks. Suddenly, all of the tears left her eyes and the feelings of pain and grief were quickly replaced by the feelings of awe, wonder, and confusion.
Beyond the boulder was the most beautiful beach she had ever seen. The sand in front of her was white and clean and the water surrounding it stretched for limitless miles in each direction. A bright orange sun hung lazily in the sky above her, casting large glimmering reflections on the surface of the crystal clear, blue ocean waves as they traveled from afar and temporarily washed up onto the beach only to turn around and head back out to sea. A group of birds, the likes of which she had never seen before, strolled casually down the sand before all at once taking flight and heading out over the water.
`Oh my God…` Shannon thought to herself, completely mesmerized by the breathtaking scenery in front of her. “What is this place?” she wondered aloud, wiping the tears from her beautiful blue eyes so that she could see more clearly. For a brief moment, she thought she was dead, but the pain in her shoulder and her throbbing head reminded her that she wasn’t.
`It’s beautiful. But where am I? How did I get here? Am I dreaming?` she wondered to herself before noticing a small puddle of water around the bottom of the boulder that she was standing behind.
Curiously, she stooped down and scooped some up in her hand before cautiously tasting it. The taste was strong and bitter and the sensation almost made her gag. It was definitely salt water, however, it wasn’t contaminated in the slightest. That explained her unusually quick recovery from complete exhaustion.
Shannon had a very strong and natural connection to the element of water. When surrounded by it, her body’s natural recovering abilities increased by threefold which she discovered when she had first started learning about her powers.
She had spent most of her life around highly contaminated water. Even the underground river flowing below the mountain where she lived in Sector 22 hadn’t been this clean. Apparently, cleaner water further increased her body’s recovering capabilities.
Taking another scoop, she focused her internal energy, causing the water particles to levitate in front of her as she effortlessly extracted the salt particles from it before letting it splash back into her hand. She tasted it again. Her technique had worked. The water was now as fresh as natural spring water and felt good as it trickled down her parched and dry throat.
Using the technique a few more times, the young girl drank until her thirst was quenched. Her strength steadily continued to return to her, but even at this rate, it would take a few days for her wounds to completely heal.
Staring at the ocean in front of her, Shannon found herself wondering how exactly she had wound up in such a strange place. This was nothing like the world she had known her entire life. The entire place was completely different. Although it was wonderful to behold, it was also very unsettling. The fact that she was completely alone and had no clue as to where she was or what had become of Alex and the rest of the team terrified her.
“Well, I can’t just stay here. I’d better find somewhere safe to hide before the Shi’aki come looking for me,” she finally decided, glancing around the beach. She was clueless of where to start. Venturing farther out on the beach in an attempt to find some sort of answers, the sound of approaching voices caused her to stop. She quickly ducked back behind the large rock.
“Damn, these guys don’t waste time, do they?” she swore to herself, hoping she hadn’t been detected. Even though being surrounded by a huge body of water such as this one would give her a distinct advantage in a fight, she knew that she was still too weak from the previous battle to push herself if she were caught up in anything. She could only hope that the Shi’aki hadn’t managed to lock on to her position.
Sitting perfectly still behind the huge boulder and holding her breath, she listened quietly as the voices continued to approach before stopping some distance away from her. Though she couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying, the voices didn’t seem to be Shi’aki. They sounded more like human voices.
Forcing herself to focus, she once again reached out with her mind and tried to make a mental connection with whoever was on the other side of her hiding place. Too weakened to make a direct mind link with anyone, she soon found that her guess was correct. The people on the beach were indeed human.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she toyed with the temptation of leaving her hiding place. Perhaps the people on the other side would be able to tell her where she was, how she got here, and how she could get back to Octagon.
`Bad idea,` she thought, quickly abandoning her previous notion. For all she knew the people on the other side could be Shi’aki spies or guards patrolling the area. She had already been caught off guard once due to carelessness back at the food storage facility in Area 41. That was a very unpleasant experience for her and she had no wish to repeat it.
Pressing herself farther against the boulder, she strained her ears to listen to the conversation on the other side in hopes of gaining some kind of useful information that would help her out of her present situation.
Finding it difficult to hear exactly what was going on, she eventually decided to stand so that she could secretly listen in on the conversation while staying hidden behind the rock. Hopefully, that would provide her with enough cover so that whoever was on the other side wouldn’t spot her.
Peering around the corner of the rock, Shannon saw a group of twelve men in strange, yet surprisingly tidily dressed clothing. If she hadn’t known any better, she would have imagined that they worked for Octagon, due to the neatness of their appearance.
Two men standing slightly in front of the other ten were speaking very casually to each other, yet even so, she keenly began to pick up on a large amount of tension between them. One man was carrying a rather large, silver briefcase.
Looking carefully at the group, she noticed that they appeared to be ordinary men. The ten standing behind the first two were all surprisingly large and extremely well built. They reminded her of Dutch. However, they appeared to have no weapons, and instead of battle armor, they were wearing black suits with dark sunglasses. They appeared to be guards of some sort.
Glancing back at the first two, she noticed that while the one standing closer to the ten seemed to be extremely physically fit, the other guy was rather plump around the waist. She wondered how he had managed to get enough food to get that fat. She would try to mind-link with him later to see exactly where he was getting his supplies, but right now she was still too weak to get extract exact details from him.
Though she could see that he obviously had no trouble getting food, she could also tell that something about his current situation made him extremely nervous. As she continued to listen to in on the conversation, she just barely began to understand what they were talking about.
Apparently, the short, fat guy, whose name was Max, was carrying some kind of device that the other guy, named Grays, wanted. Grays mentioned something about belonging to a group called the ‘Red Dragon Clan’. That was who Max was supposed to deliver his weapons to. However, before Max was willing to close the deal, he seemed to be rather insistent that Grays and his counterparts provide some sort of evidence that they were indeed members of the Red Dragon Clan.
“No proof, no deal!” Max declared after a short and somewhat heated argument between Grays and himself.
“Ok, fine. You win,” Grays relented, seemingly backed into a corner of sorts. Shannon could tell that he wasn’t pleased. Rolling up his left sleeve, he showed his left bicep to Max. Due to her position, Shannon couldn’t exactly see the device that was attached to it, although it appeared to be some sort of metal bracelet.”Satisfied?” Grays remarked in irritation.
“Very,” Max replied with a sly grin.
Just then a loud roar filled the air. Startled by it, Shannon instinctively ducked back behind the rock before slowly peeking out. Suddenly a rather large aircraft of some sort with large metal rotating blades mysteriously appeared out of thin air and hovered loudly in the sky above the group of men.
Recalling her painful discovery of Alex’s land cruiser back in Sector 28, Shannon immediately assumed that this particular aircraft had a cloaking device much like that one. It probably had a stealth module as well. That would explain why she hadn’t seen or heard it approaching until now.
“This is the Los Angeles Police Department, get down on the ground and place your hands on top of your heads! Repeat, get down on the ground, and place your hands on top of your heads or we will open fire. This is your final warning!” a blaring voice commanded from the helo’s cockpit as a small Gatling-gun assembly descended from a compartment in the aircraft’s underbelly and locked on to the group of men. These guys definitely were not playing.
“Shit,” Grays groaned in disappointment while slowly placing his hands on his head. The other ten men in back of him quietly followed suit. “So you’re a cop, huh?” he asked casually to Max, who was standing in front of him.
“That’s right. Special Agent Max Durst, L.A.P.D.” Max smiled triumphantly. “We’ve been tracking you filthy Red Dragon scumbags for years. Looks like we’ve finally managed to pin your ass down this time. There’s no way out of this one so why don’t you guys just come quietly down to the and we’ll call it a day,” he added somewhat arrogantly. Grays wasn’t impressed.
“What’s so funny?” Max prodded, noticing that the other man was laughing at him.
“You’ve got lot to learn, Max,” Grays stated, shaking his head sorrowfully. “Too bad. I was just starting to like you,” he added.
“What the hell do you mean?” Max asked, taking a few nervous steps backward.
“You’ll see,” Grays grinned mischievously. “Carl,” he called to one of the men stationed behind him. Nodding in response to the signal, the large man behind him slowly raised his left arm and pointed it towards the helo.
For a brief moment, nothing happened. Then suddenly his entire forearm became engulfed in an eerie red glow of transparent polygonal shapes. When the glow faded, a rather large reddish-colored high-impact double-barreled plasma launcher had formed in its place, completely covering his forearm.
The helo pilot noticed the setup only seconds too late. Carl locked on to the helo and released two bright yellow heat-seeking balls of energy at it. The energy projectiles slammed into the chopper and blew a large hole in its underside, instantly killing the pilot and most of the crew.
Thick black smoke poured from the hole as the craft’s surviving co-pilot fought to maintain altitude. Unable to see the controls, the choking co-pilot accidentally depressed the auto-fire button on the control stick while the chopper careened wildly out of his control. A stream of yellow laser fire littered the beach, surrounding the group of men before trailing off into the water. The group didn’t move.
“Nice work, Carl,” Grays praised, clapping his hands before turning his attention back to where Max was standing. The other man was still in shock from what had just taken place. “Now isn’t that a pretty sight? Fireworks! and it ain’t even the 4th of July,” Grays commented ruefully, drawing laughter from the group of ten men standing behind him. “Now about that deal,” he continued, looking the other man straight in the eye.
“Grays, you bastard,” Max choked between clenched teeth. His cover was completely blown and now he had no backup. He was in deep trouble.
“What? You didn’t think we knew about your little ‘sting mission’? Please! The RDC’s been on to you from the start. We just needed you to get the parts your boys intercepted from our shipment a few months ago out of lockdown at the security vault. We need those upgrades for our gear. You were the perfect patsy, Mr. Special Agent,” Grays explained with a sinister laugh while placing his hands behind his back.
Realizing that he’d been set up from the start, Max angrily reached for his gun. “Go to hell, Grays!” he screamed madly while pulling the weapon.
“After you, Max,” Grays replied coolly, pulling a large caliber pistol from the back of his belt and shooting Max squarely between the eyes. The man’s brains splattered from the gaping hole in the back of his head while the rest of his body slumped to the ground. Shannon didn’t dare to move but instead watched as Grays casually walked over to Max’s dead body and removed the briefcase from his hand. “Good-bye, Max.” He smiled coldly before turning and walking towards the group of men behind him.
“All right boys, we got what we came for. Now let’s get the hell out of here before reinforcements arrive,” he instructed. Shannon watched as the group turned to leave. She didn’t know what exactly had just happened, but she had no desire to get involved in it whatsoever.
She was so absorbed in watching all of the events take place, that she had completely forgotten about the helicopter. The co-pilot at the controls continued to fight to keep the craft airborne before slowly succumbing to the suffocating smoke and gasses in the cockpit and losing consciousness.
The helo pitched sharply to its left and spun out of control, all the while spitting laser fire from the guns located on the bottom of it. The helicopter crashed into the beach with a loud explosion about fifty meters behind and to the right of Shannon’s position sending flaming parts and fuel everywhere and catching the group of men’s attention for a brief moment.
Hearing the explosion, Shannon turned around just in time to see one of the helicopter’s sharp and deadly propeller blades break off and fling itself straight towards her. The young girl instinctively dived out of harm’s way. The blade swept past her and embedded itself three feet deep into the boulder which she had been previously hiding behind. If she hadn’t moved out of the way it would have split her in two. However, that was the least of her problems at the moment. Her self-preservation act had unwittingly carried her right out into the open beach.
“Damn!” she swore, rolling to her feet while looking for the quickest place to hide herself. There was nothing in sight. The men on the beach immediately spotted her and started heading her way. This was not good.
“Who the hell is that?” one of the men questioned as he and the rest of the group surrounded her.
“It’s a girl,” another group member keenly observed.
“And a pretty one at that,” a third remarked with a smirk. Shannon gritted her teeth against the comment.
“Must be another cop, or maybe just a passerby. Either way, there’s no telling what she’s seen. Get rid of her,” Grays instructed firmly before turning and walking away from the group. They didn’t have time for this.
“Hicks, Green, you two scout ahead to make sure that there’s no more pigs in the area, wouldn’t want them following us home, would we?” he instructed to two members of the group. The two men obediently followed his command and headed down the beach.
“You heard the man,” the big white, bald man named ‘Carl’ sighed, signaling to the rest of the group surrounding Shannon before taking a step back. She could tell that he didn’t particularly relish the thought of being involved in her murder. He’d prefer to just sit back and watch.
The plasma launcher on his left arm had long since vanished and his form was completely back to normal. Shannon could see that he thought she would be much more fun in bed than floating face down in the ocean. Of course, that didn’t really make her feel much better at the moment.
“Looks like you picked the wrong damn day to go for a walk, girl,” one of the henchmen said, cracking his knuckles with glee. He was going to enjoy this.
“We’re going to have some real fun with this one,” another one of the psychopaths mirrored his thoughts while slowly removing a rather long knife from a hidden sheath in his suit jacket.
“Two agents in less than ten minutes, your cop friends are never around when you need them, are they?” a third remarked, mistaking her for a police officer.
“How about a kiss before we get started? I promise we’ll make it quick,” a fourth taunted her.
Ok, that’s it, Shannon thought to herself, sliding into a fighting stance. If it was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was male chauvinist pigs. The sand surrounding her stirred in a slight spiraling pattern as the energy inside of her began to steadily increase. These guys had no clue who they were dealing with. “You want me? Come get me!” she responded with a sharp warning tone. Her eyes were set to kill.
“Sassy little bitch, aren’t you?” Carl addressed her, suddenly becoming more interested in the situation. There was something slightly different about this particular girl. Her fearlessness impressed him. Maybe he would have to take part in the action after all.
“We’ll see how smart your mouth is when we’re finished with you. We’re gonna do you up real nice!” the guy with the knife threatened, licking his blade.
“Do me? You don’t have the equipment!” she laughed, staring at him coldly. The man staggered back, slightly shocked at her response. His surprise soon gave in to rage once he came to the realization that she had insulted his manhood.
“You little bitch! Die!” he screamed, springing at her with his knife.
Stepping backward, Shannon watched as the man swung the blade towards her throat. He just barely missed her and lashed out at her again with a reverse slash before stabbing towards her midsection. She had been waiting for him to do that.
Being somewhat of a knife expert herself, she knew full well that there are really only nine attacking angles for a bladed weapon. That being the case, she had already calculated her attacker’s third strike based in his hand position at the end of his second strike.
Thinking quickly, she formed an ice blade in her right and pivoted to her left, spinning around the deadly blade while using her left hand to block his attack and knock him off balance. Raising her left leg, she delivered a high left back kick to the face of the surprised goon standing behind her while in one smooth movement using the blade in her right hand to decapitate the first guy as he passed by her. The man’s head flew from his body and dropped to the sand with a thumping sound. The rest of his body followed suit.
Shannon instantly turned her attention to the second guy that she had kicked and quickly rammed her ice blade into his chest. Watching the second man fall to the ground, Carl and the others rapidly began to realize that they had severely underestimated this particular girl. Two of their members were already dead.
“Get her!” Carl screamed to the rest of the men standing around her as they rushed her. Spinning around, Shannon channeled energy into her left hand, forming a series of ice shurikens. She was trying not to expend too much energy in the fight while keeping the rest of her enemies at a respectable distance. The blades of ice each found their marks, hitting one of the men in the throat while catching another in the forehead. They both fell to the ground.
“Mother fucker!” one of the remaining two goons cried in frustration while watching two more of his companions bite the dust. This girl was making minced-meat out of them. At this rate, none of them would make it out of here in one piece. Stopping briefly, he pointed his left fist down towards the ground while touching the hidden metallic symbol on his left bicep and channeling his internal energy into it.
Shannon watched in disbelief as a series of glowing red laser-like polygons flowed down his forearm and covered his left fist before solidifying themselves into a metallic, red gauntlet of some sort. Seeing his comrade`s transformation, the other remaining thug followed suit.
Crossing his arms across his broad chest, he touched the two hidden metallic symbols on both of his biceps. A series of glowing red polygons covered both of his arms and continued to extend beyond his fist before solidifying themselves into dual laser blades that were attached to his forearms. For a moment, Carl decided to stand back and watch. He would see how she dealt with these two first before making any moves of his own.
`What are these guys?` Shannon thought to herself, watching the two transform. For some strange reason, the armor that they wore kind of reminded her of the armor Dutch had worn, although the overall design of it was very different. Forming another ice blade in her left hand, she instinctively took a defensive stance as the two men rushed her from both sides.
Although the Red Dragon Clan was commonly known for being the council’s largest interplanetary criminal and terrorist organization, there was far more to them than met the eye. While they dealt in everything from interplanetary drug smuggling to assassinations, their true purpose was just as mysterious as their true origin and the armor that they wore.
The mysterious ‘armor’ that they wore was actually a very high-tech alien form of nanotechnology that had been fused into their bodies upon becoming full-fledged members of the organization. When activated, the technology inside of their bodies not only instantly increased their natural abilities, making them much stronger, faster, and more durable, it also allowed them to power up into very high-tech mechanized super-soldiers at will.
When first infused with the technology, upon the first power-up, or ‘boot’ as the RDC members commonly referred to it, each soldier’s battle armor automatically crafted itself to its host’s mental pattern while customizing itself for their use. The stronger the mental pattern, the stronger the armor.
The guys Shannon was currently fighting were actually very low-level soldiers. The armor also possessed an unlimited ability to automatically upgrade itself based on the soldier’s battle experiences, making it very difficult to defeat the member wearing it the same way twice. Shannon had no clue who she was up against, but she was determined not to let them have their way with her.
The two men jumped her from both directions. Using her blades to slice and parry, she successfully managed to evade the second guy’s deadly arm blades while blocking the first guy’s gauntlet. However, as soon as her ice blades made contact with the gauntlet, an intense electric charge jolted her body, temporarily stunning her.
Seeing an opening, the man with the blades jumped into the air and caught her squarely in the face with a spinning back roundhouse heel kick. The girl sprawled across the sand and rolled to her feet just in time to see him jumping at her with both blades poised for the kill. Reacting quickly, Shannon flung her hand out in front of her and used her telekinetic abilities to grab him while he was in mid-air before slinging him forcefully into the boulder that she had previously been hiding behind.
Carl was impressed. He had never met someone who possessed that degree of telekinetic ability. Most mutants he knew with that ability could barely move a coffee cup; much less throw a two-hundred-pound man. This was definitely getting interesting. Even so, he could tell that the use of that particular technique left her slightly drained. She stood up and tried to shake off the effects of the shock she had just received.
“Tazer punch. Like it?” the first goon gloated, showing her his armored fist. The other man slowly picked himself up from the ground. He had smacked his head pretty hard on the boulder when she threw him. He had to admit that he had never seen that one coming. A long trail of warm, sticky blood flowed from the back of his head.
I’m wasting too much energy and there’s still one left. I have to take these guys out quick, Shannon reasoned to herself as the two guys once again attacked her. Although her energy was slowly returning, she was still too weakened from the previous battle at the base to hold out against them much longer.
Judging from the way that Carl was just standing there, she could sense that he was studying her movements and looking for a weakness. Perhaps he was waiting for the other two to wear her down before he jumped into the fray. Either way, she clearly recalled the stunt he pulled on the helicopter. He was not an enemy to be taken lightly.
The battle raged between her and the other two men for a few more minutes before she finally saw her opening. Sidestepping to her left as the man with the blades stabbed towards her midsection with the blade on his right arm, she grabbed his arm and pulled him off balance and into the path of the other man attacking from her right side, effectively using his body to shield her from the other guy’s gauntlet. She forcefully stabbed her remaining ice blade into the soft spot under his chin and through his skull, killing him instantly.
The man with the gauntlet continued to press his attack, completely unaware that his counterpart had just been killed. Seeing an opening, he reached over the dead guy’s body and tried to grab Shannon’s hair with his gauntlet. The glove passed right through her head as a tense stinging sensation swept over him.
Using her phase-through technique, Shannon phased herself through the bodies of both men before exiting the back of the second, leaving him completely paralyzed. For a brief second, nothing happened. The man just stood there trembling. Then suddenly a violent spasm shook his body and torrents of blood spewed from his mouth, eyes, nose, and ears.
His brain had overloaded from the shock and exploded in his skull. That was the true effect of her technique, which was why she was more than a little surprised that it hadn’t killed Alex when she had used it on him. But then again, Alex had proven himself to be far from normal.
Shannon stood back-to-back with her victims as both of their bodies slowly slumped to the sand with the second guy lying on top of the other in a very awkward sexual position. The use of her phase-through technique always left her temporarily drained. She was cut and bleeding from a few places where the guy with the blades had slashed her, and she was beginning to tire. That was exactly what Carl had been waiting for.
Activating his own armor, Carl waited as the plasma launcher once again formed on his left forearm while a large sickle-like metal blade formed on his right and extended past his elbow before taking aim on the girl. Seeing his attack, Shannon swiftly launched herself into the air as he fired two energy projectiles at her. The projectiles sped under her and slammed into the beach, causing a huge explosion that alerted the remaining three RDC members. Turning around, Grays saw that only Shannon and Carl remained, the rest of his men were littered all over the beach. This caught his attention.
“Boss?” a concerned voice called on the comm-link built into his right ear.
“Keep looking around. Make sure there’s no more witnesses. I think I’ll stick around here a bit longer,” Grays instructed.
“Roger that. Hicks out,” the man on the other end of the comm-link concluded before continuing about his duties. Grays slowly began to make his way towards the fight scene. Any girl who could take out six RDC members by herself in such a short amount of time was certainly not one to be underestimated. This would definitely be worth watching.
Flipping over Carl’s head, Shannon landed soundlessly into a crouched position behind him. Seeing an opening, she rushed him from behind and tried to run him through his back with her ice blade. Spinning around with undefined speed, Carl blocked the attack with the blade on his right arm with such force that it knocked her off balance. Using this to his advantage, he followed up with a hard boot to her stomach while crossing his right arm in front of his face and using the heavy plasma launcher on his forearm to deliver a crushing backhand to her exposed face.
Shannon screamed in pain as the blow lifted her from her feet and sent her twirling backward into the air. Landing roughly in the sand, the girl rolled to her feet just in time to watch him take aim on her yet again. Still dazed from the previous blow, she just barely managed to dodge the attack he fired at her.
Missing her again, Carl pressed his attack and released three more blasts at her, which she skillfully avoided by back-flipping down the beach. Seeing that she was too skilled at avoiding his long-range attacks, Carl rushed to engage her in hand-to-hand combat. His speed was unreal.
Coming out of her last flip, Shannon looked up to see Carl right on top of her. The man swung at her with the heavy launcher on his left arm. She managed to avoid the attack. Spinning through his previous attack, Carl twirled his body and brought the blade on his right forearm down on top of her in a reverse diagonal slashing motion. The girl blocked the attack with her ice blades, but the force of the impact forced her down to one knee. Carl followed up with a hard muay-thai style round kick to her exposed ribcage which sent her rolling across the sand.
Shannon slowly picked herself up from the ground. His last attack had caught her completely off guard. A stream of blood trailed from her lips and she was sure her ribs were broken. However, there was little time to think as Carl rushed her again.
Aiming for her head, Carl launched another round kick. Thinking quickly, Shannon grabbed his leg as it painfully impacted with her broken ribs and trapped it against her body while rolling to her left and tripping Carl in the process. Using her body’s momentum and his trapped leg to roll him onto his stomach, Shannon sat on his back and snapped his leg in three places before being hit in the back of the head with the plasma launcher on his left arm. That thing was starting to become a real nuisance to her.
Getting to her feet, Shannon turned to face her maimed opponent. Her head ached from the last blow, but at least with his leg broken like that, he wouldn’t be running anywhere now. Even so, he was still dangerous. Watching him once again lock on to her with his plasma launcher, Shannon quickly decided to end it. Her body ached all over. There was no way she could hope to dodge the blast in her current physical condition.
Dropping her two ice blades and placing her hands out in front of her with one arm above her chest and the other at stomach level, she quickly began to channel her internal energy into her palms as a swirling ball of water particles began to form between them. She would only get one shot at this.
“What the hell?” Carl wondered aloud, lowering his launcher and limping backward in fear of what he was now seeing. While he had dealt with a lot of mutants in his day, he had never met one who could control water elements to such a high degree. The sight temporarily paralyzed him before he forced himself to recover and once again locked on to her with his plasma launcher. He reacted too late.
“GEYER CANNON!” Shannon screamed the name of her technique while rotating her arms, forcing them farther out in front of her with palms facing outwards. The ball of water in her hand glowed a bright bluish color as she charged it with super-cold energy before unleashing it at her enemy.
The huge blast of energy swept over Carl, freezing him solid. However, the energy contained in the blast was so intense that is caused his frozen body to break apart and disintegrate into millions of tiny particles of ice. When the energy beam dissipated, nothing at all of him remained and only a long trail of ice stalactites marked where he had once stood.
“Told you that you weren’t man enough to handle me,” Shannon said, falling to her knees and panting heavily. Fighting with Carl had taken a lot out of her. She was wondering what would happen next when suddenly she heard a clapping noise to her right.
It was Grays. She had been so wrapped up in defeating the other guys that she had completely forgotten about him and the other two who had left the party. Looking up, she saw the remaining two men coming to join him. She was in trouble.
“Now that was impressive! You know, I would almost invite you to join our little crew, but there’s just one little problem. See, you just killed seven of my friends. They would never forgive me if I let you just walk out of here,” Grays explained, shaking his head sorrowfully. “I have to admit, you did put up one hell of a fight though,” he added thoughtfully.
“Boss, you want us to…” Hicks started.
“No, I think I’ll handle this myself. Been a while since I had a chance to really cut loose,” Grays told him before looking at Shannon and removing his black jacket, revealing his extremely solid build and two metal bands surrounding his biceps. “I don’t normally get a chance to play like this. Promise you won’t disappoint me, ok?” He grinned sinisterly while touching the two bands and activating his armor.
A series of glowing red polygons engulfed his entire body from head to foot. When the glow faded, Shannon found herself facing a seven-foot mechanized super-soldier standing battle-ready in blazing red armor. She didn’t have time to react.
With blinding speed, Grays ran up to her and caught her with a heavy straight kick to the chin, lifting her body completely from the ground. This he followed with a crushing, downwards forearm to her exposed midsection which slammed her roughly back down to the sand, causing blood to spurt from the back of her throat. She lay there completely dazed from his two attacks. There was no way she could defend herself against his blinding speed and brute strength. She was helpless.
“Awww, that’s it?” Grays frowned through the opening in his armor’s helmet that allowed his mouth to be seen. Reaching down, he grabbed her roughly by the throat and effortlessly lifted her off the ground with one hand. “I was hoping you would put up more of a fight than that. But seeing as how you did manage to off seven of my men I won`t really hold it against you. Tell you what; I’ll give you a handicap and kill you quickly.” He glared at her coldly through his armor’s black visor while intensifying his grip around her throat. She couldn’t breathe and her strength was quickly leaving her.
Channeling more energy into his free left hand, Grays sent a mental command to the armor. Obeying his wish, a series of polygons formed on his left fist and transformed into dual six-inch laser-blades. He was going to gut her like a fish when suddenly the sound of rushing wind caught his ear.
Turning his head in that direction, Grays was just in time to catch a high-impact large-caliber bullet to his right shoulder, which forced him to drop Shannon and sent him sprawling across the beach. The girl hit the ground hard while gasping for much-needed air. He had almost broken her neck. Luckily someone had come to her aid.
“Boss! We have incoming!” Green screamed over his shoulder while Grays slowly picked himself up from the ground. The attack had caught him completely off guard. Assessing the damage to his shoulder, he could see that the bullet had almost completely blown away half of it.
The armor surrounding the wound sparked and fizzled trying to repair itself while at the same time injecting him with a cocktail of highly potent painkillers to minimize the mental stress from the wound in an attempt to keep him from going into shock. It worked for the most part, but his armor would take weeks to repair.
“There’s two of them, heading straight for us,” Hicks relayed, fixing his gaze over the water. In the distance, two small objects could just barely be seen approaching them at high speed.
“Cops?” Grays asked, still inspecting his wound. While the painkillers effectively numbed the wound, he already knew that he would require medical attention when he got back to HQ.
“Not sure,” Green admitted.
“Well don’t just fucking stand there, go find out!” Grays screamed at the two men in front of him, clearly irritated at their stupidity.
“Yes boss!” the two men answered quickly before powering up into battle armors of their own and springing into the air.
Using the set of twin boosters on their backs, the two men hovered briefly in the air before rocketing their way out to sea to meet their opponents. As they approached their targets, they noted them to be very small fighter jets of some sort. They had never seen this particular make or model of fighter craft before. They definitely weren’t standard military or police issue. The two men continued to approach their targets.
“Well, that certainly got their attention. How’s that for shootin’?” the pilot of the first fighter craft gloated to his partner while maneuvering and locking on to the two approaching RDC members.
“Cutting it kind of close, aren’t you? We’re supposed to take them alive remember?” his female partner scolded him from her own craft.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Just leave everything to me. I’ll show you how a real man does things,” the first pilot replied smartly while accelerating his craft to meet his enemies.
“This I gotta see,” his female partner quipped back, following him.
“Who the hell are those guys?” Grays wondered aloud, still looking at his wounded shoulder. Suddenly his eyes blazed with rage. Whoever they were, he was going to make them pay for what they had just done to him.
“So you think you can just take on an elite member of the Red Dragon Clan and get away with it? We’ll see about that!” he swore to himself, standing and powering up even further as two large hyper blasters formed on his thighs and dual twelve-bay missile launchers appeared on his shoulders.
“Let’s rock!” he screamed, grabbing the huge hyper blasters from his legs and locking on to his targets before unleashing a barrage of blaster fire and heat-seeking missiles at them. The missiles sped in a haphazard crisscross pattern across the open sea, accompanied by thousands of rounds of high-impact laser fire.
Hicks and Green both split up and cut their boosters, allowing Grays’ attack to bypass them before continuing on their previous course. That would provide them with some cover fire as they engaged their enemies.
“Incoming!” the pilot of the second craft screamed to her partner as her craft’s proximity alarm blared, alerting her to the danger. Both pilots immediately took evasive action against the onslaught.
“Whoa, that bastard sure carries a lot of firepower!” her partner realized, skillfully maneuvering his craft in between laser fire while dumping a burst of superheated flak from his craft to decoy the heat seekers. The missiles went for the decoy and exploded in a ball of fire as the pilot brought his craft into a steep nosedive to avoid the resulting concussion.
“You didn`t hear one word from our briefing did you?” his partner chided him while easily avoiding the barrage. “Those suits are made of state-of-the-art nanotechnology, which means that each of these guys are pretty-much walking arsenals so keep it tight!” she advised, knowing full well that he wasn’t listening to a word that she was saying.
“Geeze, Maya, you sound like my mother! Cover me, I’m going in!” her partner said, ignoring her warning and stubbornly boosting his way towards the beach while locking on to Grays.
“No, Chad wait!” the female pilot screamed at him, noticing two more blips on her radar closing in on them from both sides. Chad wasn’t paying her any attention. “Damn!” she swore to herself, taking a defensive position behind him. She was going to have a serious talk with that bone-head once this mission was complete.
“So you wanna play rough?” Chad said while locking on to Grays’ position on the beach. He was about to open fire on him when his proximity alarm once again went off. Instinctively, he rolled his craft to the left, just barely evading a strafe of incoming laser fire from the two other Red Dragon members.
“Gotcha!” Hicks declared triumphantly, unleashing a barrage of missile fire at the first craft. Still evading, Chad flipped his jet over onto its right side and barrel-rolled through the onslaught before taking a hit on his right wing.
“No more screwing around!” he growled angrily through clenched teeth while reaching up and flipping a switch above his head. He would see how well his enemies dealt with this.
The crafts that he and his partner were now piloting were not ordinary fighter jets. They were part of the SunStar Project. SunStar was a council-funded top-secret weapons development corporation that was specifically designed to deal with the Red Dragon threat. The corporation specialized in mechanical design and human-integrated cybernetic systems. Their primary mission was to develop weapons that would give the council a more effective means of combating the RDC. These particular fighter crafts were the first results of many years of research and design.
Officially named SunStar Transvertable Geo-Fighters, these craft were smaller and more lightweight than normal fighters, but the advanced technology that was built into them made them far more lethal than standard military aircraft, as the two RDC members were about to find out.
Chad’s T-23 fighter slowed down briefly as two mechanical legs formed on its underside followed by two mechanical arms forming below his wings complete with dual hyper blasters much like the ones Grays had used. Two high-impact photon cannons popped out of the back section of the craft and locked themselves into position on each side of the cockpit. This was the true power of the T-23. Chad immediately unloaded a flurry of hyper blaster fire at Hicks while launching two glowing balls of bright blue energy from his dual photon cannons.
“Whoa!” Hicks whistled, dodging the surprise attack. He had no clue that the council had anything that technically advanced at their disposal. This could mean trouble.
“These must be those SunStar guys we’ve been hearing about. Pretty high-tech, but not nearly as advanced as us. Let’s see what he’s got,” Green called to him on his comm-link while accelerating to join the fray before dodging a strafe of laser fire of his own.
“Oh no you don’t! You’re my playmate!” Maya challenged him in her now transformed SunStar 19.
The SunStar 19 was a slightly newer version of Chad’s T-23. It was smaller and lighter, but it carried a much heavier payload with its newly designed ‘Mongoose’ mini-napalm rockets, ‘Copperhead’ pursuit missiles, dual hyper blasters, and single neuron pulse cannon. It also had a much more advanced fire control system and better shields than his older model. While his T-23 was much more durable, her SunStar 19’s speed greatly outmatched his. The four opponents locked in deadly aerial combat.
Meanwhile, on the beach, Grays stopped his attack and radioed back to Red Dragon HQ to notify them of his team’s current situation. His superiors would want to know about the council’s new battle mechs. However, while he was calling in, he completely forgot about Shannon, who by now had partially recovered from his previous assault and was extremely pissed at him for almost breaking her neck.
“So that’s the way you wanna play?” she growled between clenched teeth. Her eyes glowed an intense cold blue. She had very little physical strength remaining, but she was determined not to let him get away with what he had just done to her. She painfully began to crawl her way towards the open sea.
Hearing a swirling sound behind him, Grays turned to see Shannon standing close to the water’s edge with her arms stretched out to the side. A spiral of seawater flowed around her body as she used her remaining internal energy to manipulate the water particles around her. This was why it was very dangerous for anyone to fight her wherever there was a large body of water around because she naturally had the ability to control it.
“What the fuck…” Grays cursed, instinctively raising his hyper blasters and firing on her. The barrage of lasers sped towards her only to be stopped by a telekinetic shield of water which now protected her. Placing her hands together, Shannon channeled even more energy into her palms while quickly forming a series of nine ancient ninjutsu-style hand-seals with her fingers.
She had absolutely no clue as to what these hand movements really meant or how she had learned to use them, they just seemed to be naturally incorporated into her being. But the amount of ki she could generate by using the seals to channel energy through all of the chakras located in her body was unimaginable.
Grays watched in amazement as the water behind her began to rise and swirl into a thirty-foot deadly hurricane-strength funnel. Forming the last finger seal, which unknown to her was the seal representing a ‘snake’; she opened her brightly glowing blue eyes and flung her right hand towards the startled RDC member. Obeying her command, the towering funnel of water bent and twisted while transforming itself into the shape of a huge and scaly crystal-blue water serpent before launching itself at Grays. The serpent’s head swept past her on the right side.
Terrified, Grays sprayed laser fire into the water snake as it closed in on him. He was too petrified to move. The attack had absolutely no effect on the serpent as it relentlessly continued to slither its way towards him before coming to a stop and raising it`s head high into the air in preparation to strike. Grays screamed in horror as the snake opened its mouth and slammed its way into him, swallowing him whole. A growing cloud of thick red could be seen flowing down the snake`s liquid body as the devastating force of the attack completely ripped Grays and his armor to bloody shreds. He never stood a chance.
Shannon watched silently while the snake, having had its feast for the day, rose high into the air and returned back to the sea with a loud splash, causing a tsunami wave of water to wash over her and what remained of his henchmen. When the wave swept its way back out to sea, only she remained. That was the power of the leviathan.
Shannon slowly started to make her way back onto the beach before falling face-first onto the sand. She was too exhausted to move. Closing her eyes, she and let the deep sleep take her away.
Maya and Chad both managed to make surprisingly quick work of the remaining two RDC members using their superior piloting skills and vast arsenal to their full advantage. Unfortunately, both of their enemies had been killed in the process and not much was left of them to take back to SunStar headquarters for examination. Heading to the beach in hopes of finding one of the other members so they could take him back for questioning, they found that there was surprisingly no resistance against them as they landed their two fighter crafts.
“Hey, what happened to the other guy you shot? I know there were at least three of them,” Maya inquired, removing her piloting helmet and jumping from her cockpit. She was a beautiful thirty-four-year-old woman with golden blond hair and blue eyes. She was a little short for her age, but her extremely toned figure could be seen through her skintight custom-made jumpsuit. A blaster was strapped to her left hip and a long knife was strapped to her right thigh.
“Hell if I know,” Chad answered, following suit. He was a thirty-six-year-old Hispanic man with dark black hair and dark brown eyes. While his facial features clearly showed that he was mixed, his prominent Latino features went perfectly with his olive skin. His jumpsuit was a little baggier than hers because he often argued that he was paranoid of the standard SunStar pilot’s uniform cutting off circulation to his balls while he was seated in the cockpit. That seemed to be a major issue of concern for him.
However, being one of the only two pilots qualified to fly the SunStar series prototype fighters, his superiors could hardly argue with him on the point and finally relented allowing him to comfortably wear his old COBRA-issue jumpsuit instead. “The rest of them probably left while we were taking on those two,” he guessed with a shrug.
“HQ is gonna have our asses for this one,” Maya commented, shaking her head sorrowfully in anticipation of the ass-chewing they would receive later for returning empty-handed.
“No, they’re not. Our instructions were to secretly assist L.A.P.D. after the bust was made and escort the prisoners back to lockdown until the council approved the paperwork for them to be released into our custody for experimentation and inquiry purposes, not to engage in combat. How were we supposed to know the L.A.P.D. would blow the entire sting mission? That’s their screw up, not ours,” Chad reasoned casually.
“I hope you’re right,” Maya said, shaking her head doubtfully, although he did have a valid point. He was very good at getting them both in and out of trouble.
“Hey, wait a minute. Who’s that? I think we have a survivor,” Chad called to her while pointing down the beach. A lone figure was lying face down in the sand.
“Looks like it might be our lucky day. Come on!” he grinned broadly before sprinting down the beach. Maya just shook her head. He could be such a child sometimes, but that was why she loved him. Turning, she ran after him.
“It’s a girl,” Maya observed upon reaching their find. Chad was kneeling down and gently turned the unconscious girl over onto her back. “And not a bad looking one at that,” he added, being instantly captured by her beauty. “Looks like you’ve got some competition beautiful,” he taunted, casting Maya a wayward glance.
“Down boy!” She ignored the remark and knelt down beside him while checking the girl’s vital signs. Her pulse was very weak, but she was breathing. She would need medical attention very soon.
“Looks like she’s pretty roughed up,” Chad stated, noting the many slashes and bruises she had all over her body.
“Could be a surfing accident for all we know. What the hell is she doing here anyway? She sure picked a hell of a place to wash up if she was caught up in something like that,” Maya replied, studying the girl thoughtfully.
“Look like knife wounds to me,” Chad replied, pointing to one of the clean slashes on the girl’s left forearm.
“Think she could have had a run-in with our boys?” Maya asked, looking at him.
“Don’t know, but it’s possible. Maybe she was part of the sting mission,” Chad guessed.
“Well, she’s still alive. Should we take her back for questioning? Maybe she saw something,” Maya suggested.
“And what, blow our cover? What if it really was a surfing accident? All of our work to keep this thing top secret would be flushed right down the toilet. Not to mention what would happen to us afterward,” Chad pointed out.
“Well, we can’t just leave her here,” Maya started to interject when the sound of police sirens caught their attention. “Well, look who finally decided to show up,” she commented, breathing a slight sigh of relief.
At least now she would feel a lot better leaving the girl here by herself, although she knew that once she woke up she would probably be subjected to hours of questioning by the L.A.D.P. as to how on earth she managed to wind up in the middle of a crime scene. Either way, it would beat carrying her back to SunStar HQ and trying to explain to her superiors why they were bringing home unauthorized strays.
“Well, kiddo, looks like you’re in luck,” Chad said, looking at the young girl before placing her head in a more comfortable position and covering her with a jacket that he had mysteriously acquired along the way.
“Where’d you get that?” Maya asked curiously.
“Found it on the beach. Listen, we’d better bounce before they catch on to us,” Chad told Maya, turning to leave the scene before something else caught his eye. “Hey, what’s that?” he asked curiously, noticing a large silver briefcase lying in the sand not too far away from them.
“Who cares, if you’re curious about it just grab it and let’s get out of here. Come on!” Maya called to him, already running to her aircraft.
Heeding her advice, Chad grabbed the briefcase and threw it into the cockpit of the T-23 before jumping into the pilot’s seat and strapping himself in. Wasting no time, the two pilots lifted off from the beach and engaged their crafts’ cloaking devices before shooting across the open sea and leaving the mysterious girl on the beach…
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