"I've figured out why I haven't been feeling well. My genius is unparalled, I do not have an equal in this city. Only slaves and machines and my worm of a nephew. But not an equal. I need an actual intellectual challenge now that my robotics technology – especially my magnum opus, the robotocizor – is complete. With a rival...or a worthy collaborator...who knows what I could create! This is the remedy I have been seeking."
-Dr. Ivo Robotnik
Casey groaned herself back to full consciousness, steadily getting up to her feet. Her shoes tapped on the metal walkway she had landed on, not too far below the hanger door she'd fallen through. She heard McCloud's voice a few feet away. The Therianth turned to look at her, and a somewhat relieved look crossed over his otherwise stressed face.
"Good, you're alright. Arbiter? McCloud here. Arbiter? Can you hear me?"
Casey shook her head clear and looked around. The two had fallen into a huge, dimly lit hangar area. Looking at it, Casey was reminded of a garage. Dangling from the ceiling and walls were bits and pieces of unfinished robotics and tools. Deactivated machines for building and maintenance slept on the floor, several feet below them. Two large craters on the floor signified the huge mecha's departure minutes ago.
McCloud tapped his commlink several more times, trying to reach Arbiter or the soldiers topside. Judging by the expression on his face, he wasn't succeeding. Eventually he gave up, sighing in frustration.
"What's going on?" Casey could faintly hear gunfire above her through the sealed door they had entered through. McCloud glanced at the Cipher lab blueprints before answering.
"I don't know. Comms are down, I can't reach Arbiter or the soldiers on the surface. And I have no idea where we are. This place isn't on the blueprints. Must've been built recently." McCloud glanced around at the rather shoddy but effective work of the walls and ceilings. Cast iron and steel. Whoever built this had a very good understanding of technology, being able to work with what little had been available.
"Nuts." Casey sighed. "So what do we do now?"
The fox took out his weapon, the energy pistol someone had reworked for him. He checked that the gun was loaded and working before nodding to Casey. "Well, I'm not sitting around. Let's have a look around. Stay close behind."
Casey smiled. Sounded like a plan. Maybe she could find Jimi while they were down here. "Got another gun?"
McCloud gave the teenage chronicler a strange look before walking down the walkway into the underground garage. Casey shrugged and followed him, keeping her eyes and ears open for a certain electric Pokemon. She had to find him.
She didn't hear or see any noises of Jimi, but her ears picked up something else. It sounded like random machine-gun fire and several large metal wheels rolling across steel floors. McCloud heard it too, and readied his weapon. The wheels came closer and closer, but the machine gun fire remained distant.
Eventually McCloud managed to make out the source of the noises. Several machines were streaming onto the walkway. They didn't strike McCloud as the height of technology. They seemed to have been made out of cast iron and rusty metal, and the design resembled clockwork automatons rather than cutting-edge security robots. They looked like large stoves on top of thick metal wheels, with spiky shoulder pads over arms that had large guns and sharp blades attached.
Whatever tracking system they had in those iron heads saw McCloud and Casey, and the automatons raised their hands and started firing at the two intruders. Luckily, they were bad shots, the bullets blasting into the walkway to the right of Casey. They were still too close for comfort.
"SHIT!" Casey spat. McCloud raised his gun and started firing. He had much better aim, blasting the automatons in the chest. Smoldering holes in their centers signified the professional skills of the commando-for-hire Therianth. In respect of those skills, the automatons fell onto the floor, destroyed.
McCloud blinked. Robots weren't usually taken down so easily. He would've expected a normal flesh-and-blood combatant to go down with a shot to the chest, but not a machine.
He didn't have time to think it over as larger versions of the automatons started coming in. Casey cowered grudgingly behind McCloud as he reloaded his gun.
"Wonder how the others are doing." He muttered.
"My new 'collaborater' is complete. As I assumed, a computer mind cannot fully handle the downloading of my intellect. Several bugs and errors have made it somewhat mercurial, but nothing unmanageable. I made certain to install certain safeguards to insure that it never surpasses or tries to take control of MY city. One of those it that it focuses on outdated technology and junkyard scraps that I can easily overcome if something…goes wrong. But nothing will go wrong. Speaking of which, Snively keeps irritating me with reports of disturbances in my city…I'll have to look into that once I've seen my creation in action"
-Dr. Ivo Robotnik
Arbiter's group had been stopped, much to Aven's annoyance. The lockdown had naturally sealed all the doors in the compound, to prevent the progress of any intruders that had somehow gotten past the initial security. The contingent had been halted by a locked door at the end of the hallway. Lara was working on the number pad beside the door and was taking her time, having some difficulty figuring out the number code.
Arbiter was tapping on the side of his helmet, trying to get the signal from the other groups or the soldiers topside. His displeased and troubled expression told Aven how successful he was. Something was jamming the commlinks, likely another part of the lockdown.
Aven paced impatiently through the hall, holding the modified Carbine he had gotten as a gift. He had been looking forward to using it in combat, and was greatly pleased to find he was coming on this assignment. Finally, a bit of proper battle for the minor elite. He could test out this improved gift and work out his frustration towards that swordsman, musician, and little burglar. There was nothing like combat for the Sangheili.
But lately, all this mission had consisted of was waiting. First it was waiting to arrive at the place. Aven could stand that. Then it was waiting for that musician's pet to deactivate the force field. The Sangheili wasn't too fond of waiting on that little yellow creature, but he had held his tongue. And NOW it was waiting for that woman to finish tinkering with the lock, and from the look of things, this would have to be replayed many, many, MANY times while they searched for this Therianth…
He decided he had enough of waiting. Storming up to doorway, the Sangheili drew his energy sword and slashed. In a second, the steel doorway had a long and deep cut from top to bottom. Aven smiled slightly. Why didn't they just think of this before?
Lara, who was standing right beside Aven at this point, simply blinked and calmly moved away from the unresponsive keypad and the irate Sangheili with the energy sword.
Aven attempted to get his hand into the cut the sword had made, but his hands were too big to fit into the narrow gap. After a second of trying, the Sangheili took a step back and raised his new weapon. Taking very careful aim, the Sangheili shot the projectile at the gap. The plasma-charged needle detonated…
An inch to the left of the gap.
Aven groaned, glad that Link hadn't seen that. Still, the small explosion had made enough of a mark that the Sangheili could get a grip on the two halves of the doorway. Getting his powerful fingers into the hole, Aven focused all his strength into pulling the door apart. The halved doorway opened…
Right to a cast iron automaton raising it's fist.
Before Aven could react, the machine slammed him right in the chest, knocking him to the floor a few feet back. On seeing the iron machine, Arbiter raised his own plasma rifle and blasted the machine's head off. The iron behemoth fell to the floor, revealing a small army of identical machines behind it. They raised their arms and weapons threateningly at the group.
Aven scuttled to his feet. Lara drew her pistol and remarked "If you'd let me finish…"
Aven was in no mood to argue. "Those things would still be there, would they not?" A small smile on his face, Aven readied his weapon and started firing. His new weapon caused several of the machine's heads to explode, and the automatons dropped like flies alongside the beasts shot by the others.
Aven couldn't suppress a chuckle. Now THIS was more like it!
"Sometimes I think we're just the errand boys in this league. Backup, support, air cover, cannon fodder. Won't get the same recognition the big guns like Arbiter and Snake get...if we get any at all. But that's alright. We do our duty. We put our lives on the line not for glory or accolades, but for the sake of accomplishing the mission. For the world which we live in. For our children and their futures. And that, I think, is enough for me."
Ivo Robotnik was a fat man, but he was a lot faster than he looked. An incredibly bushy mustache sat under thick goggle lenses and a bald head. Behind those goggles were the mad eyes of a genius, staring hard at the soldiers he had just forced undercover. Robotnik couldn't resist laughing.
Once he had heard the perimeter had been breached, he had finished what he'd set out to do and manufactured his escape on this mecha. The lockdown would slow down the intruders that were already inside, and then there were his two wild cards. With them occupied, the kidnapper could easily escape from this pathetic excuse of a laboratory. With this latest commission, he could now move to a more respectable place of work.
However, Robotnik couldn't resist taking a few parting shots at the soldiers that had dared intrude on his experiments. Several blasts and Bullet Bills forced the police and operatives to find cover behind the other ships. The crazed scientist laughed as he readied more explosives to rain down on these idiots.
Bullet Bills were considered a poor man's heat seeker, but they were still very effective. Robotnik fired several of the bulky warheads at the transport ship, and the explosions they created resulted in large holes in the ships. The insane doctor had aimed at the engines and transport technology to prevent these ships from following him. Now those things were ruined by his surprise ambush. Robotnik sniggered and started to take off…
When a very accurate grenade launcher embedded an explosive somewhere on his mecha. Robotnik didn't have time to register where it was before it detonated.
The entire mecha rocked, falling to the ground in an undignified manner. A huge hole had been opened in the chest area of his robot, and the propulsion systems had been damaged enough to prevent him from taking off. Dammit! The enraged Robotnik raised his weapons and started to fire on the soldiers in retaliation, but they had all ducked for cover and Robotnik didn't hit any of them.
All the Bullet Bills had been used up, and Robotnik was running out of bullets and energy. The scientist began to work on his backup escape, only to find himself under a sudden hailstorm of bullets and plasma that further disintegrated his machine. The cheap materials he had to use were not holding up at all. The entire mecha buckled like a drunk being riddled with bullets, and Robotnik could barely keep it steady enough to manufacture his emergency exit.
A bullet smashed through his glass cockpit, narrowly missing his head. A plasma needle appeared and gouged Robotnik's shoulder. The scientist snarled and turned his weapon towards the soldiers…only to see something that made him freeze.
One of the ships had a large cannon he had somehow missed, and some Therianth soldier – a squirrel, no less – was aiming it right at Robotnik's mecha. The plasma cannon charged up with a loud and resonating hum, as the entire thing lit up like a thunderbolt eager to strike…
One shot, and there was nothing but a cloud of sand where the huge mecha once stood. sand and broken, melted metal.
Another soldier caught a small metal orb flying up into the sky, carrying the wounded Robotnik away from his destroyed mecha. Several sharpshooters fired at the orb, a few shots coming very close to the scientist. However, the escape pod was too small and fast, and soon vanished into the sky.
Robotnik breathed hard, his shoulder bleeding painfully. That was embarrassing. He had made sure he wouldn't be followed, but that was the most undignified retreat he had made since those pesky freedom fighters and that hateful hedgehog took his city from him.
Still, he was finished there. His revenge was almost complete, and those sods that had breached his compound would be in for a nasty shock. It was a pity he wouldn't get to see it firsthand, but the thought of what would happen brought a malevolent smile to his face.
"A few years before the Coalition was formed, the city of Mobius was under the despotic rule of a man named Ivo Robotnik. This particular tyrant is unique, in that rather than subjugate his citizens and force them to admire and follow him in the traditional sense, he instead arranged that he would be alone in the city with thousands of robots to serve him. No pretense of free will or democracy, just millions of slaves he himself manufactured, him alone among the mindless purveyors of his will. His ego was legendary. It wasn't until a group of 'Freedom Fighters', led by a Therianth named Sally Acorn, overthrew him that his reign ended and Mobius was retaken. He was driven into hiding, and the Coalition has had a difficult time tracking him down. When they do capture him, I hope I get the chance to speak with him. What kind of man makes an entire city of mindless drones to serve him without any sort of human interaction? What does he get out of it?"
McCloud and Casey pressed through the streams of automatons, the Therianth bringing each and every one down with a solid shot. However, no matter how many he brought down, there were always more coming. Casey figured that whoever ran this place had hid them in every nook and cranny he could find, deactivated until an intruder showed. Casey had to give him props…that was pretty damn efficient security. Human guards would get tired of waiting in the same place for too long, and wouldn't be as attentive as these machines were.
Casey followed McCloud closely, both of them ducking for cover every time another hail of bullets erupted from the oncoming machines. The robots had been attacking with frustrating frequency, and every close call seemed to be closer. Casey nearly had her kneecaps blown off at one point.
McCloud was getting concerned. He was running out of ammunition for his Carbine, and there would not be any ammunition to be found here. The Therianth soldier had to conserve his shots, which was somewhat difficult considering the huge army of automatons pushing towards them. McCloud and Casey huddled to the side of a hallway, looking for an exit.
McCloud glanced down the hallway. "Dammit!" More of the automatons were streaming in, and he was on his last clip. There was no way he could stop them all before they reached him and Casey. They needed an exit.
Casey found one. A doorway marked 'Failures for scrap' was a few feet down from where they were standing. The door was ajar, almost inviting them to come in. With the automatons closing in and no other options apparent, the two operatives took the invitation. McCloud bolted to through the doorway, with Casey close behind. Casey slammed the door shut, for what little good it'd do.
As the sign had read, this place was a dumpsite for scraps. Pieces of broken metal and faulty wiring were scattered all over the desks and floor, illegible notes describing their failures written on walls. Robotic heads, some looking more sophisticated than the automatons, had been broken down and their parts torn out.
At the back of the room stood a bulky 9-foot tall steel mecha with two thick legs and no arms. Two machine guns at the end of long, piston-like appendages attached to the shoulder were it's arsenal. Those guns pointed at the floor lifelessly, and the entire machine seemed dead.
They didn't have time to search for any fresh ammunition however, as the functional automatons started pounding on the door. Casey and McCloud instinctively distanced themselves from the doorway. The clockwork monstrosities smashed into the room, guns ready to kill the intruders. McCloud tensed as he readied his last few rounds of ammunition, while Casey backed to the wall, behind the broken mecha.
She suddenly noticed something.
The broken mecha had had the plating on it's back removed, exposing several switches, levers, wheels and gears. Although Casey figured that the cockpit where the pilot sat had been removed and several cables had been ripped from their sockets, the control mechanism was still intact. She guessed that the worker was in the middle of repairs or destruction when something else came up. Casey suddenly had a crazy idea.
While McCloud fired his remaining shots at the incoming automatons, she quickly climbed up the back of the broken mecha. Reconnecting the cables to whatever socket seemed correct, she started to reactivate the mecha. After she replaced a red cable, the entire thing reared up and nearly shook her off. The metal thing buzzed awake, and the guns on it's 'arms' began to fire.
Unfortunately, they fired at the ground right in front of itself. Not the automatons that were closing in on McCloud, who was nearly out of ammunition and had ducked behind a nearby table for cover. The fox Therianth glanced back at the malfunctioning mecha with a very odd look.
Casey steadied herself and groaned at the pointless gunfire. Securing herself to the back of the mecha using a cable as a seatbelt, she took the aiming control mechanism in her hands and pulled the switch labelled 'Manual Override'.
The mecha reared back again, but this time Casey was able to aim the guns this time. The machine-gun fire decimated the waves of iron automatons that came straight into the mecha's line of fire like lemmings. "OH HELL YEAH!" Casey laughed as she mowed down the entire legion of machines. The guns just kept on firing long after the last one was down.
McCloud wisely decided not to step into the rocker-controlled mecha's line of sight. "CASEY, YOU CAN STOP NOW!" He yelled over the sound of guns.
"I CAN'T!" Casey had tried all the switches she could see, but not of them halted the fire of the malfunctioning mecha. The guns continued to blaze on and on despite their being no targets to hit. Well, at least now she knew why this thing was being repaired.
Casey looked up and saw more automatons coming down the hallway. How many of these things were there? There must be dozens, if not hundreds, of these things in the lab. All of them looked identical...whoever was in this lab was an expert at mass-producing.
"Whatever." Casey moved the mecha towards the incoming lines of automatons, the machine guns still blazing. McCloud, after taking a very deep breath, followed her. At least now they could press forward and find a way out of this mess.