“Explain that to me again?”
Kalm sat on his throne, brooding over the news that his Captain brought to him. It had been the Feline he smacked last night.
“They managed to pull Chase out of the Village My lord, I saw her leave, the Infiltrators entered her home and then-”
“-and then they were captured, yes, I understand that.” Kalm interrupted, clearly irritated. “But explain to me how one Mobian defeats three of my best Swords well before the Guards posted outside can manage to get in the front door?”
The Captain shook his head, hanging it low, “When they exited the building, it had been that Mobian in the Guard Uniform we had spotted the day before. He defeated them with their bare hands, and came out with but a scratch,”
“Bah!” Kalm snarled, “One against three and he comes out with a scratch?! And our men they were brought out on stretchers?”
“Oh, my love are you finally declaring war on me?!” Kalm fumed, standing as he paced back and forth on the small landing.
“My Lord,” The Captain started, looking back up, “We can end this in one swoop,”
“But without casualties?!” Kalm snapped, “Or have you forgotten you have a sibling in that Village as well?!”
“Yes Lord, I have not forgotten,” the Captain replied, “If I may?”
Kalm’s fingers played on the hilt of his rapier, eying the one before him with resentment. The Jackal slowly nodded, waving with a gloved hand for the Captain to continue.
“Deploy the Army,”
“Are you insane?!” the Jackal roared, taking a few steps down toward the feline, who immediately retreated a few paces.
“A show of force!” The Captain explained quickly, “We capture the entire village, bring them to the Fortress and no one will be hurt!”
“Chase alone can destroy half of that Force of unthinking killing machines without a sweat. I would lose more then I would gain,”
“Not if you deploy everything my Lord, and surround the Village in a noose. Use the new stunning weapons on villagers who resist, even the Guardian can’t resist those for too long,” the Captain was still on about this idea, undaunted in the course of action.
“I see merit in this plan,” Kalm frowned, slowly moving back up the dais to settle on the throne. “Yes, and we have the use of that technology don’t we?”
Kalm started to rub his chin in thought. Despite the obvious advantages, he still did not like it.
“But remember Captain, they are our family,” Kalm warned, “I don’t approve of this idea, I hate it, but there is no alternative.”
The Captain bowed their head, “With your blessing, we can march this very night,”
Kalm’s frown deepened, his eyes slowly closing. “Try, try your hardest Captain, to hurt no one, spend the machines before you send in the Power Suits, agreed?”
The Captain again bowed, “Yes my Lord,”
“Then deploy the army.”
Jerry woke with a start at the beeping sound in his pocket. It was the communications device he was supposed to keep on him.
Jamming it into his ear, he yawned. “Morning Control.”
“Did you place those devices?” the feminine voice over Jerry’s shoulder asked calmly.
“No mam, just the two, though one is in a pack inside what’s left of my Sister’s house,” Jerry replied, stifling another yawn.
“MARS4, there is active energy signatures closing on the Village right now,” Control said in a such a formal fashion that Jerry was up on his feet and he moved to the armory. He had slept in the living area while Chase took the spare room.
“How many?” Jerry questioned, nearly tripping over a chair.
“Too many, you are to recon, do not engage unless you absolutely have to,”
“On it Control,” Jerry grunted, unlocking the armory door to fetch his gear.
“Who is Control and what is going on?” Chase demanded across the room.
“This time you stay here,” Jerry glanced in her direction, pointing towards the door she exited. “Guard your Daughter.”
“What’s going on Jerry?” Chase asked again, her tone calm and authoritative.
“The Lost Village is getting lots of unwanted guests,” Jerry finally relented. “Now stay here with my fucking Niece so I can do what I do best,”
As Jerry spoke, he had dawned his armor, strapped on the falchion, and flexed the Mobian Power Fist on his left arm.
“Am I understood?”
Chase shook her head, “What are you going to do that I can’t do?”
“Observe and report, if it gets bad, I can come back here for help,”
“Jerry, you're not in the condition-” Chase started to argue, but the male rammed a magazine into the SAS-G, and pulled the slide back, accidentally ejecting a round still held within.
“-you have no idea what I can do in the condition I’m in,” Jerry replied, his tone cold. Very cold.
“Now stay with her, and don’t argue, here, put this on.”
“MARS4, what are you doing?” Control demanded, apparently seeing what Jerry could see.
“I’m not leaving my Sister in the dark,” Jerry said, presenting Chase with one of his spare earpieces.
“Control, Chase, Chase, Control,” the Specialist introduced as he walked out the door.
“Hello?” Chase asked tentatively, Jerry could hear her on his right. It sounded like she was right behind him. He had to look over his shoulder to make sure she was not.
“Hello,” Control responded dispassionately, “Normally I wouldn’t allow this, but considering the circumstance, MARS4, remember, recon only,”
“Affirmative Control, Recon only,”
“What's going on?” Chase, again, demanded calmly.
“Chase, let me do my job and we’ll know,” Jerry growled softly, hobbling fast up the forest trail before plunging into the underbrush. Chase did not answer, apparently content in that response.
It did not take long for Jerry to find the energy signatures within sight of the Village. Combat Robots, they were shorter, sleeker versions of SWATbots.
Jerry could make out the wrist blades and laser weapons Chase had described. There were hundreds of them, surrounding the Village with their ranged weapons extended. There were a few of the Village defenders on the ground unmoving at their feet with a dozen of these machines in pieces all around them.
Jerry smiled grimly when he noted the Twins who had beaten him soundly were still fighting, despite overwhelming odds.
The Fox could spot a few of the Power Suit wearing Mobians, they were little more than boxes the beings sat in with robotic limbs that could be considerably more powerful than their normal bodies. They were surrounding the Villagers who had surrendered peacefully, or who could not put up a fight, to begin with.
And now Jerry laid eyes on the Golems, the ones who had wounded his Sister.
They were tall, man-like, nearly twice the height and width of Chase, and they were wielding the same long and broad swords she seem to favor. Twelve-foot giants that look like Knights, though where their helms would have been were skull-like faces.
They looked imposing, made for heavy combat and intimidation.
Jerry was not impressed.
“Control are you seeing this?”
“Yes, barely, the new headsets don’t have the same quality as the old ones,” Control replied, she sounded interested in what she was seeing, “It looks like they are trying to claim the Village without destroying it.”
Chase said nothing or Control had cut her off from the feed. Jerry did not know, but he was thankful for the moment.
Jerry leveled his weapon where the fighting was still going on, flexing his finger. It was not in his nature to sit outside of a fight. Jerry wanted to help those two.
He needed to. But he did not.
The Twins were overwhelmed. One was shot from range with a stunner, the other fell over her Sister protectively, snarling at the robots who closed around them. Jerry closed his eyes tightly before a sharp shout brought his weapon and attention back towards the center of the Village.
“Where is the Guardian?!” a Feline called. Thankfully in a language, Jerry could understand. There were a few who were clad in duelist armor, they bore rapiers but they were in their sheaths.
“Where is Lord Kalm’s Wife and Daughter?”
“You are unwelcome here,” It was Wune, they thrusting their gnarled cane at the Feline, “Begone from this place,”
“We come to claim our Families, and the Family of our lord,”
“You are here to promote War and Violence,” Wune countered like a teacher chastising a student. “Your own Sister fought your mechanical abominations until she fell,”
“She breaths, they all breath, a stunning weapon only Master. She will be carried to her new home, the rest of you can either walk or be carried as well,” the feline ordered, gesturing towards the south, “Please, do not make this any harder,”
Jerry had self-consciously advanced a few feet forward, fully intent on causing rampant destruction on the robots to distract them. Wune looked in Jerry’s direction. There was eye contact. The Fox was not sure how the Old Racoon knew he was there, but Wune shook their head slowly. Again, Jerry’s rage boiled as he was denied the chance to Fight.
Be a good soldier, wait. He had to remind himself.
“Find the Guardian and the Lord’s Daughter,” the Feline shouted, turning on his heel, “The Voxholm estates are to the East, send a Power Suit with a detachment of twenty MOBbots. If she is there, inform her that we have taken the Villagers to the safety of the Fortress, and she is to present herself there with the Lord’s Daughter,”
Jerry retreated, frowning darkly. “Control, are you keeping Chase up to date?”
“No, if she is anything like you, she will do something rash,”
“I want to do something rash Control,” Jerry growled quietly hobbling back towards the so-called ‘estates’.
“What are you suggesting MARS4?”
“I want to ambush these fuckers,”
“That would not be advisable,” came the warning. “You are not in the condition for a stand-up fight,”
“I’m always in the condition for a Fight Control,” Jerry smiled sadistically, “Just never a fair one, besides, we know nothing about this enemy, and I am here and willing.”
There was a short pause before Control started speaking again.
“Agreed, we can get some basic information on the fighting capabilities of those Combat Robots and Power Suits,” Control conceded, though she sounded amused, “ETA on reinforcements is fourteen hours, MARS2, 3 and 5 are in route,”
“MARS5?” Jerry asked, “Who did Wade get to agree to do this job?”
“Are you saying that you don’t enjoy my company?” Control asked, and she sounded genuinely offended. Jerry had no idea where that had come from, and he was hurt that he offended her somehow.
“Excuse me? You still owe me a Spaghetti Dinner Ms. Pretty Eyes,” the Fox commented, feeling a tad guilty of upsetting her if she had been actually upset. ”And short of you getting me killed, I plan on enjoying your company for a long time.”
She was silent after that. But Jerry could imagine her face, well, the cheeks beneath those alluring oculars, blushing. With that thought alone, Jerry was smiling.
“What do you mean they captured the whole village?!” Chase shouted, obviously angry, worried, and a whole other host of emotions Jerry did not care to comprehend or bother with. Females were funny with their feelings. The Fox liked to think he had his set between ‘Calm’ and ‘Kill’, the two main emotions he believed a Soldier should have.
“Your Husband deployed his army against the Village, I think that might have been my fault for showing up,” Jerry replied softly, “How good are you without your sword?”
“You’ll see, where are you?” Chase demanded, she was getting angry. Chase was becoming focused. Her Voxholm blood boiled for a fight.
“Oh, about a hundred yards from the house, up the path,” Jerry observed as he lined up his rifle’s sight on the column of Robots marching up the trail. “Is Edwina still asleep?”
“Yes, thankfully, but I don’t want to leave her long,” Chase’s voice changed from rage-filled to a maternal, fearful for her daughter.
“Well, sorry Chase, she’s about to woken up with a bang,”
He did not even hear her response.
As Jerry spoke, he had launched a high explosive grenade from the tubular launcher beneath the barrel of the SAS-G. Even as the resulting explosion tore a sizable hole in their ranks, Jerry depressed the trigger on full auto, the Mobian made Assault Rifle roaring a short spurt of fury before ‘clicking’ empty.
The Armor Piercing, Explosive Tip Anti-Badnik rounds shredded several more of the Robots who stood there and took it all in silence.
Jerry did not get a chance to count the losses he inflicted. After he initiated the ambush, the Fox rolled into the underbrush, refreshing his chosen rifle’s magazine and grenade. As his hands moved with a practiced motion, the air had been laced with bright red beams, stabbing randomly in the general direction Jerry had fired.
The Mobian in the Power Suit was spouting something in that language that was really starting to annoy the Fox. It may have been orders, directions. Jerry did not know.
Jerry rolled onto his knees and let loose again on full auto, keeping the weapon’s fire low and on the Robots who were still clustered and easy pickings. They were not trying to find cover and they were taking too long to acquire and fire.
The box-like vehicle turned and lumbered towards Jerry when he rolled out of the bushes. As the suit cut in front of their line of sight, the Robots stopped firing, and again, stood where they had halted.
Jerry straightened, grinning broadly at the Power Suit as they drew closer. Just before Jerry would be within inches of their reach, the Fox lowered his rifle and pointed to the left.
The Mobian inside hesitated, unsure on why Jerry was pointing, or to what for that matter. Slowly, they gazed in the direction in which Jerry was indicating.
Chase was already in mid-air, leg extended when the Pilot realized they should move.
The impact was tremendous.
Jerry gawked as his little Sister drop kicked the power suit off its metal footing and sent it sailing half a dozen feet before the Suit Settled on its back. It had been the sudden heat of a stunning charge that snapped the Fox out of his stupor.
Jerry quickly dispatched the rest of these ‘MOBbots’ as he heard them called. Despite taking a few more hits from the stunning lasers, the Armor easily absorbed them.
Thankfully those machines were not aiming anywhere else, such as his legs and his one exposed arm, or this would not have ended so one sided.
After the last MOBbot fell, Jerry limped around, quickly scanning the forest and underbrush for more targets. A frown tugged his lips as his gaze swept over the damaged vegetation and trees, even more so to the smoking wreckage of the twisted metal chunks that comprised the MOBbots themselves. Jerry felt as if he just violated a holy sanctuary, and for the briefest of moments, he felt guilty.
Jerry shook his head and looked back to Chase and the Power Suit, letting his rifle go slack against his chest.
Chase had ripped the suit’s arms off and was beating at it with the remains of the limbs, much to Jerry’s bemusement. After venting herself, Chase tore after the pilot.
With a twisting yank, the Vixen ripped the hatch off and threw it to the side casually before reaching down into the cockpit. The Vixen jerked out the pilot with one hand, who in turn, attempted to aim a pistol of some sort at her.
Chase crushed it with her other hand before throwing the destroyed pistol and the occupant towards Jerry. The Vixen stalked the Pilot, who scrambled back, right into Jerry’s legs.
With nowhere to go, the Pilot, already afraid, cowered beneath their combined glare.
“I think you have a message for the Lady,” Jerry said as Chase moved closer. The Pilot glanced up at Fox before looking to the Vixen.
“Y-yes,” they stammered.
“Finally, something I can understand,” Jerry snorted, lightly kicking the Mobian at his feet before limping away from them to lean against a tree.
“What’s the message?!” Chase snarled as she drew in closer. She was nearly foaming at the mouth. She was enraged, her muscles were tensing and every strand of fur on her body stood on end.
“I-I,” the Pilot started fearfully.
Jerry grunted, patting himself down for a Cigarette that he had left in the cabin. They were going to be at this all day. Time to speed things up a tad.
“Kalm wants you to surrender yourself and your child to the Fortress, he has declared this supposed struggle over,”
Chase glared up at Jerry, and then down at the Pilot.
“He dares to demand MY surrender, he declares this battle over?!” the Vixen raged, trembling in barely contained anger.
“What Battle?” Jerry asked pointedly. Up until this point, he had been kept outside of this arrangement. “I mean this is the Local Affair right?”
Again Chase and the Pilot looked at him, one confused, the other still ready to hit something.
“Shut his whimpering” Jerry announced suddenly, putting a finger up to his earpiece.
“Control, recon complete, some twenty MOBbots down and a power suit shredded.” Jerry reloaded his SAS-G, limping closer to the other two.
“I saw, the MOBbots have no programming for advanced tactical thinking, they stand there and shoot. I can theorize they would more than likely charge at you blindly when they have no more energy to spend on shooting at you,” Control stated, and Chase flicked her ear, apparently hearing what Jerry was hearing.
“Orders?” Jerry asked as Chase put her foot down on the Pilot who made an attempt to crawl away, her eyes narrowing on her brother.
“Altered,” Control responded, her tone professional and official. “Priority is to eliminate this new threat. When Reinforcements arrive you are to destroy Jakuul’s ability to wage War before they put in more advanced programming. Villagers and the Republic Beacon are secondary,”
Chase’s lip curled into a snarl, Jerry noted it.
“Define Eliminate,” Jerry spoke for her, thinking exactly what she was thinking.
“As you both see fit, as long as Kalm and this Army are a threat to no one,” Control answered flatly, “Standby for Reinforcements,”
Jerry removed the earpiece as Chase did.
“Standby?!” his sister snarled. “I won’t,”
“You will,” Jerry snapped, mirroring the same rage as his Sister. Their ears folding back as they glared at each other.
Oh this was a switch. Here Jerry talking Chase down from a fight. Every shred of Jerry’s being wanted to join her in the fray. To run headlong in a suicidal charge against everything.
But he had Orders. And Jerry was going to be a good Soldier.
A good Weapon.
And Jerry knew how to get Chase to stand down. Something he did not have.
“Think of your Daughter,” the Fox pointed out before reaching down for the Pilot. Chase expression became thoughtful, and then she relented, stepping away from the Pilot for her Brother.
“You, I got a message for you to your Lord Jakuul,” Jerry started to speak, but the Pilot was going to argue. Jerry placed the gun barrel of the SAS-G into their face as their mouth opened, and they shut it immediately.
“Listen close, because I’m not going to repeat myself,” Jerry instructed, his tone polite. “You are listening, yes?”
The Pilot nodded.
“Good!” the MAR Specialist grinned, patting the male on the shoulder. “Tell your Lord, that tomorrow at noon, just after lunch, if he has not released the Villagers and destroyed his War Machines, then his Wife will be the least of his worries.”
That friendly grin becoming an evil smile. It was sinister, revealing the very points of Jerry’s canines.
“Tell him, there are worse things then the Legion, the Iron Dominion, even the Damned Republic that will be after him.”
Jerry made sure his eyes, those predatory golden orbs, were level with the Pilot as he continued to smile. Jerry then hissed sinisterly into the Mobians face, “Me,” before dropping them on their backside.
Something in the tone. Something in Jerry’s face, in the words, had frightened the Pilot, and they stared horror-stricken at the Fox.
“Run,” the Specialist instructed. And the Pilot, with a wide-eyed look of terror on their face that Chase could not help but smile at, fled into the woods towards the South.
Chase observed surveying the small battlefield, placing her hands on her hips. “So, what do you do now that makes you worse than all of those things combined?”
They were asking questions, looking to put their mind somewhere else. Chase was angry, the Fox could tell by her voice she was still in suffering from a blood lust Jerry knew all too well.
For some reason, Jerry did not like seeing it in his Sister.
“Let’s go get Edwina, I figure she’s scared out of her mind right now,” Jerry stated, avoiding the question. They were walking back when she asked something else that chilled Jerry’s spine.
“What did you do in the War?”
His limping stopped, and he unconsciously walked through the pain a few feet before he came to a slow halt.
“I disowned you, you know?” Jerry asked back. “I hated you, I hated Kalm, I couldn’t believe you weren’t there for the Siege.”
The Fox did not look back to her.
“I never regretted hating you. Never asked why never cared to look, it was simpler for me that you never existed,” Jerry sighed as he confessed, “Until I saw those Villagers, heard what you have done here for these people. Until I saw my niece.”
“You did the right thing all your life, and here I had disowned you, dishonored your sacrifices. For that, I am sorry.”
Chase frowned and made a dismissive gesture. “What does that have to do with what you have done in the War. Why are you changing the subject when it’s a simple question?”
“Chase,” Jerry turned around slowly, his expression cold, dispassionate. “Ask me anything else than that, I swore an Oath-”
He knew it was coming before she said anything, but Chase threw out the question regardless. “-And your Oath as a Royal Guard?”
“Is not the same as the Palace Guard,” Jerry replied, his tone still had an edge of frost in it, “The Royal Guard was to ensure the safety of the King on the Battlefield in order to preserve the Royal Line for the Kingdom, there is no more Kingdom of Acorn, there is no more Oath,”
They stared at each other longer.
“You will tell me,” Chase pointed at him, and before he could say anything further, she added, “We are Voxholm, we hide nothing from each other,”
Jerry frowned, and turned away, limping back towards the House, “You should have thought of that, Sister, before you told me you took the name of an ancestral enemy,”
It did not take Jerry long to realize she was not following him, and he turned again to peer over his shoulder.
Chase was on her knees, a conflict of emotions were tearing at her. Why did Kalm do this? Why is my Jerry being cold to her? Why is this happening now?
“Chasen?” Jerry called out to her, and she glared up at him with red-rim eyes. As soon as they connected, the MAR Specialist folded his ears against his skull and looked away. The Fox did not like having his own emotions toyed with, and here he had them flung around in all sorts of directions. He put his earpiece back in, “Control,”
It did not take Control long to pick up. “Not now MARS4,”
“Control permission to fill my Sister in on the MARS program,”
Jerry growled, “Lukus knows, Bron knows, Aila knows, and none of them are a part of the program, why not my own flesh and blood?”
“Until recently you had denied her existence,” Control reasoned, “I do not feel comfortable allowing her to know if you had disowned her.”
“Control,” Jerry started, trying to keep his voice even, “I’ll keep your secrets between us like I kept my Oath to King Maximilian if you tell me no again, but I am asking you, begging you, do not let me keep this secret from her,”
The silence was deafening. It dragged on for moments on end before Control finally sighed into Jerry’s ear. “Granted, MARS4, contact me when Jeebs brings the ship in,”
“I could kiss you,” Jerry grinned somewhat, then turned, gesturing for Chase to follow. “Chase?! Come on, let’s go home, I’ve got some friends coming over, And while we set the table for them, I’ll tell you all about what I do now,”
Chase growled in discontent, yet stood. That was not what she wanted to know, but it was a start.