Jerry went deeper into the ship than he intended. He needed to stash the majority of the gear he had taken from the MARS ship. It was heavy, weighed him down, and MARS4 needed his agility to survive. He needed to stay as fresh as he could, in case he encountered the Wade thing again.
So he could kill it.
Checking the SAS and his ammunition when Mags’ ”Jerry!" had him drop the rifle with his head snapping to either side for the Old Sparrow.
“What!?” Jerry hissed, picking the rifle back up.
“Gods you don’t have to shout! Sensitive ears.” the Fox restrained from cursing, pausing between a few words in order to adjust the sentence to be more ‘professional’.
It was her Husband he planned on killing.
"I’ve got a plan," Mags announced, and Jerry grunted, shifting behind cover to let a patrol by, more than likely having detected the rifle clattering on the floor.
There was a lag in the communication, and Jerry frowned, ”Securing the Channel, Control suspects that they can hear us, so she’s changing the frequencies as rapidly as she can, listen, it’s going to be complex and won’t make too much sense-"
“-wait, you have a plan?”
"You’re not the only one who served in the Great War, I was an Officer in the Army, I may have been your Captain if Wade and I-” Mags did not finish the sentence.
Jerry understood, but he was shocked. He never heard Wade mention anything about a Wife until he talked about retiring. That was why she was so composed. Why her mind was working now when she should have been in the throws of disbelief and grief.
Margaret Sparrow Duckington had been a Captain in the Royal Army of Acorn.
Either case, it was forbidden for married individuals to be serving in the same unit. As were siblings and lovers and the like. With Wade and Mags’s marriage, they were not eligible to serve together.
When Mags started speaking again, and Jerry turned his head unconsciously as he listened.
Control, the entire time, remained silent.
The call of that familiar name came from a lower deck. A patrol swept through but the Units dispatched could not find the source. The infuriating anti-sensory technology was elusive for the Doctor, but He assured His creation that He would have the minor problem solved.
“Minor?” that insistent voice in the back of EX1312’s skull asked, disgusted. “If that quack can’t figure out a simple algorithm.”
“Getting on your nerves? They’re my nerves, I should be annoyed I can’t control my own limbs,”
“That would be Jerry, it seems his calling you, I mean me, out. Is that fear in your run-time processes?”
EX1312 grounded the teeth in its beak. “Enroute Doctor,”
“Good,” came His voice, sounding as annoyed as It felt. ”I will take matters into my own hands if you fail me again, see to it that you do not,”
The other voice laughed, “Aren’t you in trouble my boy? Doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.”
“When I’m dead, or you are dead, both ways I won’t be bothering you anymore.”
The Cyborg gave up on quieting the second voice, and continued onward, heading down the levels to the area in question. EX1312 sent an executable file, dismissing the SWATbots to secure as many exits they can find off the level. They waited for them to depart, all the while that voice rambled onward about vague science facts that It knew, which only served to distract it.
By the time EX1312 reached the area of the acoustic detection, the target had called their supposed name at repeated intervals.
“Did I mention we had a hedgehog in our little team of comrades?”
EX1312 listened, the thought of the particular hedgehog, wrought an image of it. The Hedgehog’s quills ordinary brown, blue eyes, a name of Horus displayed beneath it. How did it know that name? How did it know to call up that image?
“I see you, I mean myself, remembers good old Horus.”
This felt relevant as the Cyborg approached the eye-piece that the Intruders had worn. The gear had been discarded on the floor, in a spot that SWATbots would not step on it.
“Horus always bragged about having studied with this oddly named clan in this oddly named place with Dragons.”
As their apparent inner voice spoke, the Cyborg looked up and down an adjacent corridor with its palm laser primed and aimed, before studying the device further.
“We became effective at going unnoticed from what Horus taught us.”
“Wade!” came the voice from the device, and Its eyes widened in realization.
EX1312 rose the laser palm upward, acquiring a target just a mere millisecond before losing it. Sparks flew as the edge of a weapon struck their outstretched palm, and their external system detected an additional impact along its side. Turning, the Cyborg swung around defensively, but the Fox had not only rolled away, but it vaulted to their booted feet facing It.
It was wearing a bright green hoodie. The Voxholm was not wearing his armor!
The laser hand shot outward, and EX1312 willed the hand to fire.
All that came out of it had been more sparks.
Then that annoying voice played again on the back of their mind.
“Did I mention we all became proficient in the skills of everyone in our group?” EX1312 could see an image of himself smile. But the face was different.
They did not know that face.
“Guess who taught us how to fight in close quarters?”
A match was struck.
EX1312 detected the flame, saw it as the Voxholm lit something in their mouth. While they had been distracted, the intruder had sheathed their sword and was producing smoke from their nostrils. With the armored covered hand, the Voxholm flipped loose hair from their face, staring forward at the Cyborg with that frosty glare.
They simply regarded each other. Neither EX1312 nor the voice in their mind spoke nor did the Voxholm make a threatening move.
Finally, with the odd-looking thing in his mouth had become half the length it was at the start, the Fox removed it.
“To your left,”
The three words were surprising, and risking a glance, EX1312 saw a blade, similar to the one It had lost. The weapon was just resting there, right against the corridor wall.
“Why?” EX1312 asked allowed unconsciously.
“Fuck the reason,” the Fox replied, putting the white object back in his mouth.
“An honorable death,” Wade seemed to sigh in their conjoined mind.
“Honor?” EX1312 spoke, and for a moment, the Cyborg stuttered and felt positively wrong. Just wrong. EX1312 did not understand, but it snatched the weapon with their claw hand, tossing it to their flesh one.
The Voxholm parted their feet, drawing their own sword. Crossing their arms over their chest, the Intruder assumed a stance EX1312 recognized to be an offensive one.
“That’s all your getting out of me,” Jerry spat out the odd thing from his mouth.
Something was wrong.
“He has the Detonator!” someone shouted through the device at Wade’s feet.
Then it had been followed promptly by the familiar voice of Magaret Sparrow Duckington, “Now MARS4!”
The voice of ‘Wade’s’ wife seemed to have shocked the abomination considerably. It looked down at the discarded communications device. When It looked up, Jerry had produced his detonator and depressed the trigger.
The whole ship shook from the explosion, and the ‘Wade’ looked back as the ship rocked. When EX1312 turned their attention forward again, Jerry was once more in their face, nearly nose to beak.
The Fox registered emotion in that eye, recognition? Relief? Jerry did not have time to tell. The Fox flung both arms outward, trying to take the thing’s head, but it ducked and rolled away getting up in a defensive posture.
Jerry let the momentum from his missed swing carry him into a spin. As he rotated, Jerry deftly reached down to snag the communications device with his free hand. Completing the turn, Jerry used the energy to deflect an incoming strike with the Falchion in his own hand, sending the attack wide.
Then, the Fox seemed to reverse the flow to roll around a metallic fist, bringing their own blade to bear against the Cyborg only so they could retreat a step away.
The Cyborg Wade gave chase, launching their own series of lashing strikes that Jerry not only dodged but also deflected, parried and countered, their weapons weaving around the other in an intricate dance. Somewhere in their movements, Jerry managed to place the Communications Device back on their head. Once it was on, however, Jerry’s posture changed. Raising the Mobian Power Fist as a shield and Jerry braced against an attack meant slash across his chest, The blow almost knocked the Fox of his footing.
The exchange of looks between the two combatants lasted for eternity for Control and Mags. They saw the sparks, Jerry’s reflection in the metal.
Then Jerry’s knee’s bent, his arm’s pushed upward and he shifted both the weight of the pressing blade and the blow overhead, his own sword shifting to an attack position. As the ‘Wade’ fumbled to recover, Jerry slashed home, dragging the sharp edge of the sword across their exposed belly.
Instead of a spray of gore, Jerry had been rewarded with a shower of hot sparks. That would have been a killing blow if it landed between the plates of an Overlander’s Armor.
Or a Mobian’s.
The momentum changed. And that blow had not been the last as Jerry reversed the strike and struck Wade again without hesitation. Wade moved to do as the Fox had done, to dodged, to deflect, to parry and counter. But where the Fox continued their weaving dance, the Cyborg had lost their composure and looked to be nothing more than a drunken fool flailing their blade about. A well-rested and unburdened Jerry flaunted his superior skill and agility over the Cyborg’s inability to keep up or make sense of how or where the next strike would come from.
The twisted version of Wade gave ground as sword strikes sent streaks of glowing glints of microscopic metal shavings in spurts against the hull as that two-handed sword wielded by the Fox, found their steely flesh with impossible ease.
Neither Mags or Control knew how Jerry was doing what he was doing, but they knew, this time, they knew their MARS4 had been in total control of this fight.
Wade brought their sword down vertically, Jerry sidestepped it, cutting downward in a mirrored stroke along the Cyborgs’ abdomen.
It would counter that with a hip to shoulder slash, and the Fox somehow ducked it, again dragging steel across its metal chest.
It would bring the sword back low, trying to catch the Mobian as he recovered, but again, Jerry avoided the attack by going lower, literally on his belly as he cut out at the abomination’s feet.
Leaping up over the slash at their lower appendages, the Cyborg again raised their sword over their head and brought it crashing down.
It HAD him! EX1312 HAD HIM. Wade nearly screamed the words as the sword cut deep into the grating.
But they did not strike the Fox.
Jerry could smell the frustration as well as see it in the thing’s single eye. Jerry had rolled onto his back, catching EX1312 in the knee joints where it went face first into the corridor wall before its clawed feet could land. As the Cyborg recovered, ripping the falchion from the floor, Jerry was on his feet again with another roll.
The way the Fox swaggered towards the Cyborg bled confidence, if not arrogance. But instead of a flesh and blood opponent, who would have been dead dozens of times over, Jerry kept his mouth shut and his eyes locked on that horrific rendition of his old friend’s face.
There was a look of determination. Not enjoyment. Jerry was not amused as he would be in a battle.
Yet why was he picking me apart like this? Why toy with me?! Jerry never toyed with his prey while they could still fight.
He would never take the chance. Not after Shelly-
-Me? Wait, an individual synonym, why did I think of myself as an individual?!
“Because you are one, you are me, you are alive, your not a machine,” Wade found himself muttering under his breath.
Frustration and rogue processes of questions slowed the reflex and dulled the skill of the Cyborg.
All Jerry saw was desperate strikes provided by a desperate thing. Despite all his own attacks, Jerry had been searching for the detonator. Hard enough work to keep moving around that creatures weapon, even harder still when every strike for Wade’s throat met with a sword instead of flesh.
Jerry kept Wade’s attention on defending their vitals while sneaking his blade across other portions of the abomination’s body, scratching metal and ripping fabric. Though he had deftly cut open two of the remaining three on what was left of Wade’s shredded armor, Jerry hoped that the last one held the detonator he needed.
Or this had been a complete waste of time and effort.
Wade went low, going for Jerry’s waist. The Fox again rolled over the attack, once more defying gravity as his body turned through the air like a fulcrum, allowing the blade to pass right beneath him. Jerry landed on an outstretched hand and the toes of his boots, his sword slicing down once more and cutting into that last bit of fabric with shocking care.
Verlos’ detonator clattered on the grating.
They both looked to it as if startled it was found. Jerry went right for it, sliding between Wade’s parted legs.
The Fox once more rolled to his feet sheathed the sword and pocketed the detonator all in a fluid motion.
And Jerry ran.
He ran down the corridor to the only room there had been. It was round platform overlooking a void, filled with cabling and wires with no visible view of the ceiling, nor towards its bottom. There were consoles against the wall and no hatch. The male glanced back towards the Cyborg who had taken a few steps to give chase, but it had stopped.
It stood there with an outstretched metallic claw looking more like a sign of ‘please wait’ then another attempt to shoot him with a laser.
Why did he run from me?
Voxholm’s don’t run. They don’t! When swords are crossed and lives on the line, they fight or die, but they don’t run! No. He’s not running. He can’t get out of that room. There isn’t a path out of there he can reach Or is there? YES! I see. I finally see. That’s the very room I got stuck in.
Wait? Gods, I’m alone in here? Ahh. No more double talk. It’s nice to have my brain back. Eww, what’s left of it. Did you really have to replace the surface with that much wiring?! Fascinating, it’s like looking into a clear computer screen. I think it, the process pops up.
That sword he gave me is in the metallic hand now. Why? Ah-hah! It’s running off an irreversible executable, can’t stop till either the target’s incapacitated or I cease to function.
Smart you tub of lard, smart, you suspected I could regain control of my mind. Well, since I can’t control my cybernetic parts, let’s see what I can see with the other nifty little toys you left me.
What’s this? Network Doodads and Whatsits. Oops, I connected, ah well, er, wait, where am I? Hrmph, did I just download myself into the data stream? Yup. Dear Gods. That’s me? No wonder I’m in a bad mood. Or I had been in a bad mood.
Oh my! Laced communications outside of the ship? That HAS to be MARS. Let us see what their say-er-oops.
Wade was moving slower than before. They even switched sword hands. Wade was not a lefty, but then again Wade was not Wade, to begin with.
Jerry stood in the center of the room in plain view. His fingers clenched and unclenched as it moved closer. Damn his hair! He could not see clearly! With a quick jerk of his head, he whipped his hair back between his ears.
“How did you know about the detonator?” Jerry demanded, watching Wade approach.
“Your communicator picked it up, it was reading armed on my screen and it was moving, I concluded that, Wade, had it,” Control responded crisply.
"You need a haircut," Mags stated, trying to make idle chit-chat and avoiding the mention of Wade altogether. She was trying to make herself sound calm about this.
Of course, she was not. Bless her heart.
“I normally wear a headband or a bandana in combat,” Jerry whispered into the communications.
There was a pause as Mags considered that, “I see, you really had no intention of coming off that ship, did you?"
The Fox grinned fiercely, despite the fact that they could not see it.
“It would be against Voxholm tradition if I didn’t die against overwhelming odds,” Jerry replied grimly, though sounded amused at the thought of dying in battle. “Right now, the odds are even,”
"I beg to differ,” Control replied, and Jerry was on the verge of frowning, thinking the Feminine Voice of their mysterious Leader was about to put a damper on this exchange. ”The Odds are in your favor."
That put a sadistic smile on the Fox’s lips as the Wade cleared the last few feet.
The slash that came inward did more than just stir Jerry’s hair, it whipped it to one side. Dear Gods that was fast! Jerry’s eyes widened as he ducked backward, the machine coming at him like never before.
There was no halt, not even time to shift the momentum of the weapon in a different direction. The blade just kept coming, over and over again without pause.
But it was coming in like a machine, no skill. No deviation in its attack pattern. The expression on Wade’s face was deadpan, the eye was not even focusing on Jerry at all.
Something was wrong with this, yet Jerry was too busy to keep himself a hair’s width ahead of the blade to guess.
Jerry continued to weave and dodge as he backpedaled towards the edge of the platform. The Cyborg kept swinging, the blade hissing through the air.
However, like an unthinking machine, it fell into an attack pattern Jerry quickly caught on to. When the sword started arching upward again, Jerry dove forward on its opposing side, right beneath their flesh arm.
There was a painful yank as Wade momentarily caught Jerry’s fluffy tail. Jerry whirled around with a yip, pulling it free, yet leaving fur in the Cyborg’s flesh and blood hand.
Wade snapped around, swinging low, trying to cleave the agile Fox’s legs out from beneath him.
Jerry lept upward, bringing his knees up against his chest, allowing the blade to clear well below him. As Jerry came to the very top of the jump, his arm cocked back as he depressed the trigger to the Mobian Power Fist. When Jerry came downward, his fist rocketed forward, throwing his full weight and momentum into the punch.
There was another rippling explosion as the knuckles connected right between the Cyborg’s eyes. Jerry found himself a few feet back from where he intended to land, falling on his backside with a huff.
He heard ‘Wade’ smash into the wall somewhere down below.
And just like that, Wade was gone once more.
In an afterthought, Jerry snagged his tail and inspected it with a frown. He then patted himself down, finding the hoodie torn to shreds and one scratch right below his rib cage along his abdominal.
It was a scratch, it was not even seeping that much blood, but when that communications device saw what he saw, Mags quickly stammered out an ”Oh no,"
“No no no, scratch, I’m fine,” Jerry explained gruffly.
"No!" Mags said again.
"MARS4, you have incoming!"
It was then Jerry heard the marching feet. He rolled to cover, laser fire streaking into the doorway.
“Fuck me blind, forgot about them!” Jerry hissed, quickly sealing the hatch closed on his side. “Well, going that way is out of the question,”
"You can still make it!” Mags said earnestly.
“Tell me, did the ship do what you said it was going to do?” Jerry asked, settling down with his back to the console. They were hesitant, and Jerry knew why.
Mags had planned that the ship would turn around and head back to base. Whoever was in charge would not risk a damaged warship in a fight, and would need to climb back over some of the mountains to get back to its base.
They had more to the plan, but right now it was not relevant. Jerry was stuck, he had taken too much time getting to the detonator. They knew Jerry left his armor, one hit and it would have been over before they knew it.
“Yes," Control finally answered.
“Yeah well, tell me when he’s climbing,” MARS4 sighed, fishing out another cigarette to smoke. He looked at it, lit it, then tossed the matches and the pack away from him.
"Jerry, you can still get out," Mags continued, and Jerry laughed.
“Alright,” the MARS Specialist smiled, “I could crawl through some air-ducks along the bottom of the ship and maybe get to an access hatch that would get me to a normal deck, and I could try to get to an airlock and see if Jeebs could force it open before this ship reached the rocks,”
Jerry took his communicator off again, turning it to face him as he blew smoke into it. “Lady, I’m fast, but I’m no gods damned Sonic the Hedgehog.”
The brief moment of silence between them all ended when the SWATbots attempted to pry open the door, pounding on it.
“Good luck with that you tin-wrapped septic tanks!” Jerry shouted, still smiling.
"The Ship is climbing," Control announced unceremoniously.
Jerry simply rested himself back again, presenting the detonator.
“You know Control, I got a question,” he started, looking seriously into the visor.
There was a hesitation in her voice, but she replied with a quiet, ”Yes?"
“Do you like spaghetti?” Jerry asked, raising a brow.
Another pause, Control unsure on how this had any effect on the situation but humored Jerry nonetheless.
"Yes?" she asked more then stated as if she wasn’t too sure herself.
Jerry tried not to smile, “Do you like the Noodle or the Sauce?”
The answer she gave Jerry immediately had him laughing up a storm.
He was laughing so hard he could not breathe, managing the words, “A Keeper,” before pressing down on the detonator, his eyes closed, and his expression filled with an almost alien-like mirth-
-but nothing happened.
The sinister laughter was the first indication that something was wrong. It was the sort of laughter that made the flesh beneath Jerry’s fur crawl, just as it stood on end.
He put the visor on the terminal as Control and Mags asked what was going on. The Fox managed to get on his feet just as the ‘Wade’ cleared over the lip of the overhang, catching the Jerry right in the gut with an extended fist.
The force of the blow did not hurt as much as the impact against the metal wall, putting Jerry on his hands and knees with gritted teeth.
“Foolish Vermin, I lured you into a Trap!” boomed the laughing voice.
It was a voice that was so utterly familiar that Jerry growled out the name without having to think about it. “Kintobor.”
“Robotnik!” the Cyborg, Wade shouted back, their laughing stopped, anger flaring in that red-eye. They drifted in the air before landing on their clawed feet.
“Doctor Ivo Robotnik!” they stood straight, waving the flesh hand before inspecting it with a scowl. “In the flesh of this Vermin underling.”
Jerry watched as the flesh and blood eye of Wade turned black with a red ring for an iris. “And I will finish what they started.”
Blind rage filled the Fox. Before he could stop himself Jerry flung the detonator at the monstrosity just as he charged at it.
“Fool!” thundered Robotnik’s voice as Jerry leaped into the air, trying to land another blow with the Mobian Power Fist. But self-proclaimed Robotnik, in full control of Wade’s body, saw the attack coming and not only stepped aside but brought their medal knee into Jerry’s soft underbelly.
The blow was so hard it numbed the feeling to his knees, and again Jerry was on all fours, the Power Fist’s charge dissipating harmlessly.
“I’ve seen that technology at work, you think me an easy-” Robotnik started to boast, they could finish they ducked a sword slash meant to behead them. “-prey?”
Robotnik offered little ground, but as they managed to focus on their foe again, they were rather impressed that they were moving at all. That knee was meant to incapacitate the Fox.
Only an eye blink ago on the ground, now back into a fighting stance. There had been spittle on the Fox’s lips, their body quaked in pain and boiling rage. Those gold eyes bled murder and hatred.
“Yes,” Jerry spat at the thing that wore his friend’s body. “I do,”
“Co-” before Robotnik could even begin his own tirade, Jerry was on them, swinging, causing them to cut what they were going to say very short.
What pain that burned in Jerry’s body did little else but fueled his assault. Robotnik’s voice from his ‘dead’ friend’s beak was too much to simply keep himself focused. Unlike before however, where something had been holding his foe back, the self-proclaimed ‘Doctor’ was not only keeping pace but with every exerted killing blow Jerry failed to land, Robotnik landed menial strikes, toying with him.
It was in one of those light blows that landed on him that Jerry’s control over his temper kicked in. He was being played with. That murderous rage quickly sharpened itself into a weapon Jerry could use, instead of a flailing idiot he was being made to be.
Jerry started to give ground, ducking and dodging and becoming more on the defensive again. The Fox reverted to holding the weapon with two hands, his parrying becoming more precise, his strokes shorter, but he could not find an opening.
So Jerry made one.
With a shift of his blade, he let Wade’s claw hand tear into his left shoulder, the Mobian feeling metal ripped into cloth and flesh. Jerry’s body turned in with the bloodying strike, his right hand encased in the Mobians Power Fist dipped downward then up in an uppercut, the trigger depressed as his arm moved. The fist connected right beneath Robnik’s beak, their head snapped backward.
But the Power Fist had been depleted.
Robotnik lashed out with a clawed foot, throwing Jerry back against the metal wall and his sword clattering away.
“Enough of this!” The Cyborg Doctor snarled, annoyed more than threatened. “I’ve others to crush. Speaking of crushing.”
Jerry could not move out of the way before a clawed foot rested against his throat, pinning him to the floor. The obvious result was the life being choked from him.
The Fox was already panting, his hands closing around the leg trying to force it up to no avail. Out of the corner of his eye, though, Jerry saw an age-old symbol for electricity on a box on the wall right within reach.
Struggling, Jerry yanked his knife free from its hiding place on his back.
Wade laughed at it with Robotnik’s voice.
“Commendable, but-” as the nightmarish form of Doctor Robotnik were about to explain how there was nothing vital on their person for Jerry to strike, the Fox gripped at the metal knee, then thrust the knife deep into the symbol on the box.
The surge of pain that flowed through Jerry’s body had been one of the most excruciating experiences in his life. But by the Gods, did Jerry relished the sight of his foe jumping and jiggling at the end of his fingertips.
Seconds turned to eons as they both danced beneath untold voltage before they shot from each other like opposing magnets. Jerry did not fall too far, but the Cyborg crashed into the consoles and had nearly fallen back over the edge.
Doctor Robotnik pulled itself back up slowly, the expression on its hybrid face had been pained and filled with rage. Their synthetic gaze fell on the smoking frame of one MARS4 who twitched and shifted nearby.
“Is that all?” They asked with the same, annoyed snarl, trying to regain their composure.
Jerry glanced up, his head lolling. His fur singed and smoking in places along his arm, his body spasming uncontrollably, but he struggled to his knees. Jerry had been still staring at the Robotnik controlled Wade with the same, cold, murderous intent. The will was there, the desire to murder this thing still burned.
Yet how Jerry managed to retain his ability to breathe was beyond him, but his breathing came in hard. His body would not move. It refused to stand no matter how much he screamed internally. It had been obvious to Robotnik the moment Jerry had sat up. This fight was over.
Robotnik swaggered towards Jerry, now gloating.
“All of that, for nothing. Your entire species is doomed because you couldn’t send a real hero to do the job,”
Deviating to pick up the falchion with the odd melted end, they took their time to stand over the Fox, forcing Wade’s beak into a grin all too familiar to Jerry. Robotnik gripped Jerry’s bloodied shoulder hard, squeezing, though getting little else than a silent stare from their victim.
“Any last words?” the Doctor asked, grinning as it raised the sword.
Jerry’s right fist closed, his body shifted again with that claw on his shoulder. The blow was meant to be his last show of defiance. To say to his Father, his Brother, his Mother, that he died swinging!
The fist connected in the area between the Cyborg’s legs which would have been a tender spot to hit if there had been something other than metal there.
And the Mobian Power Fist, discharged.
The shocked Robotnik flew skyward, flailing before gravity kicked in yet again. They impacted with the rim of the overhang, then disappeared once more as they thundered curses.
The resulting kick from the Power Fist sent Jerry’s hand into the floor grating, but he was too numb from the electric shock to feel anything other than the dull sensation of impact. Jerry was also surprised and dumbfounded that he was not only still alive, but he was not worse than what he should have been.
Slowly, Jerry checked himself, finding a few bruises, a dozen small scratches, and a deep wound in his left shoulder. He moved his arms, which aided in ridding of the numbness of the rest of his body as his entire left side flared in pain.
Struggling as best he could to simply stand, his gold eyes laid on Wade’s fallen sword. It embedded tip first in the floor at the rim of the overhang. The Fox wrenched it free, noting how the blade was still sharp and unmarred, before putting it away in the sheath that still clung to his back.
“Lucky fucking sword,” Jerry muttered but found that even cursing hurt.
Jerry moved to the console, snatched up the visor, then headed to the edge. Since he was not going to be bringing this thing down the way it was planned, he needed to find another way. That meant contacting Control, and doing so here where he could hear the SWATbots tearing into the door to get inside, would not have been a good idea.
“What happened?” Mags shouted as the entire facility went dark.
“Control?” Mags asked the ceiling. But she got no answer.
“Wade?” the Old Sparrow called for the AI, but she got no reply from the AI either.
For a full ten minutes, the only illumination Mags in the room had been the screen which, for the briefest moment, had Jerry once more fighting head to head with her husband’s corpse. Now it was snowed out, and it was also the only sound that filled the empty base.
Then the Wade AI started speaking, but the speech was broken, incoherent.
“Mags?! Are you alright?” Control shouted excitedly as she came through herself, “The whole base went offline,”
I don’t know, can you hear the AI?” Mags shouted back, the noise was becoming intolerable, and she covered her ears. “Wade?! Stop that please!”
As if reacting to her, the base went offline once more, but Control remained connected, “Mags?! I’m sending down Bron right now, don’t move!”
The holographic screen came back to life, though there was not static. Mags uncovered her ears, not understanding what she was seeing. The Screen had the word ‘Interesting’ written across it.
“Wade? What’s going on?” Mags asked, and was answered on the screen. Her eyes widened, her voice trembling, “Control?! Can, Can you see this?”
“No, I don’t have a visual feed just yet, just audio, what’s wrong? What happened?” Control responded, apparently still trying to see what was going on.
“The Screen,” Mags said, pointing at it with a mix of horror and wonderment.
“It says,” Mags started, unable to take her eyes off the screen, “It says, I don’t know Mags, but I find this fascinating,”
Wade Duckington, MARS1, honestly had no idea what was going on, but yes, he found this very fascinating indeed. He could see the entire base, see Bron coming down the Elevator Shaft, forcing the doors open. He could see his horror-stricken wife, even the shady Control.
“Ahh, that’s who you are,” Wade summarized to himself, “A bit shorter than I thought but considering who helped us set this up.”
“Expected what?” Mags asked. His beloved wife. He ached to touch her again, and he self-consciously zoomed on her face.
“Oh? Are words still typing as I think? I wonder how that works,”
“Wade?” Mags asked, still trying to grasp what she was reading.
“I would hope so, I’ve already had this conversation with myself once, it was tedious and boring with the Be Silent parts that just wouldn’t end and-” even as he seemed to think of putting the words on the screen, Mags’ face lit up,
“By the Gods, it IS you!”
“-what?” Wade thought, “What I do? Oh, Yes, it is me.”
Mags then looked about the room, “Control?! It’s Wade, not the AI Wade, but Wade!”
Mags almost sounded hysterical, that poor thing.
Control, however, did not see him. How to get someone’s attention outside of the base? Wave naturally. Did he just open the Hangar? Oops, shouldn’t do that. “Yes, back, oh my, there are the vocals, yes, hello, testing, one two, testing,”
“Wade?” Control demanded, surprise on her features.
“Control,” Wade returned, and she seemed to relax, not by much, but still.
“Yes, I see you have been busy, have I been gone long? Oh no, the feed to TJ,” Wade seemed to note, his mind raced far faster than he could keep up. “I wasn’t really trying to throw myself here, but since I am here, let us see if I can make myself useful, um, nope, I just flushed the rest areas. Ahh there it is um, that’s not good.”
MARS4, Jerry, dragged himself out of the air-shaft, dropping a few feet on the floor of what looked like a maintenance bay for SWATbots. It was empty of the things, which was thankful, Jerry’s body was in a state of fire and exhaustion, all he could do was offer a string of harsh words if something had been in here.
Putting the visor on, Jerry asked quietly for Control, then gave up almost immediately when he inspected it. The inside of it was charred black, leaving a dark streak on his cheek as he removed it. Fried. Jerry had no communications at all with the outside of the Battleship.
Jerry placed his hands on his head, pushing his hair back as he just sat there to think. What could he do to bring this ship down?
His first priory was a breather. Just a few moments here and he would move on.
To his equipment, Jerry could still do lots of damage to the ship with the amount of ordnance he had stashed away. It was not much of a plan, but it sure won out against curling into a tight ball and crying like a baby.
When Jerry finally started moving, his body felt far heavier than he remembered it. His head spun, he stumbled, resting against a console as he placed a hand on his head again. His shoulder screamed that it did not approve of being used as of yet, but it only served to clear his head. Jerry looked down at a blinking screen with disinterest, then up to the closest hatch and moved away.
Then he came back to the screen.
It read “Hello TJ,”
Jerry looked around again, wary of seeing his initials, more so because only one person dared to ever call him that without fear of reprisal.
Jerry’s eyes settled on the screen again, stepping closer. He did not ask if it was Wade or not, he was no longer in the mood to be trifled with. Instead, he went straight to the point.
“Can you hear me?”
“Barely.” the screen read.
“Good, Friend or Foe?” Jerry demanded.
The screen-scrawled a poem. It was the only poem Jerry knew by heart. It was not written in books, spoken in taverns or repeated outside of a last, desperate struggle of defiance.
Forty-Two Names, with Forty-Two Faces.
Forty-Two Blows, that found Forty-Two Places.
Jerry’s body relaxed, he covered his eyes with a hand to hide a sudden rush of tears. Wade was alive. Gods he was alive! How? How was he alive? Why was Jerry alive right now? Short of divine intervention he just did not know. No, no time to speculate. He sighed, straightening as best as he could as he read the screen.
There had been no concern for his safety, not from Wade. They did not ask if he had been fit to do it. If they could see him, they knew the Fox had been in a sorry state. Yet, Wade knew that so long as Jerry could breathe, Jerry would do what Jerry had always done.
“Tell me,” the Fox growled in pain, “Tell me how to bring this fat bitch down.”