"10 years ago, a man named Porky Minch commissioned the building of a device that could bridge the gap between dimensions, bringing a creature on an entirely different plane of existence into our world. The machine was built to 'birth' this creature, giving it a form that could exist in this dimension. While this would be a scientific marvel to say the very least, Minch's motives were anything but scientific. The man planned to use the dimensional traveller, which he had nicknamed 'Giygas', to destroy the world and remake it into his own image. The monster's immense power would be contained and controlled through what is described as a 'The Devil's Machine'. He was very much insane…however his plan came dangerously close to fruition. According to eyewitness accounts and reliable sources, this 'Giygas' was indeed birthed in the machine, and very nearly broke free of it's confines. The witnesses are at odds as to how exactly the creature was quelled before it could fully birth, but they all agree that if the process had completed the world would've been in grave danger."
"You are quite certain?" Arbiter asked the leader of the coalition.
The woman on the screen nodded. Eleanor Lamb didn't resemble her mother very much. Her face was rounder than Sofia's angular features, and her hair was pitch-black and cropped in a neat haircut. She did have her mother's piercing eyes, with no glasses to hide them behind.
"I see." Arbiter sighed. This was the second time that something that could spell the end of the world had come up. How many apocalypses did this planet need? First Halo, then the Dark Prognosticus, and now this 'Giygas'. "What can you tell me about this Giygas creature?"
"The reports vary. Some say he's a dimensional traveler, others say it's an alien transformed into some manner of force, and one of them claimed it was the 'embodiment of evil itself'. All of them agree that the creature is incredibly powerful and dangerous. Only someone with Armageddon on his mind would bring it back."
"Could they resurrect him?"
Eleanor thought for a moment. "It would take an intense knowledge of science and mysticism to accomplish it, not to mention the reconstruction of the Devil's Machine in order to contain it's energies. But...it is possible. Especially with these individuals."
"Robotnik and this Wesker."
"I imagine they have other allies, but the two of them do have the intelligence and the sociopathic tendencies to attempt this. You said that the deadline would be tonight or tomorrow?"
Sofia nodded. "According to the information we pulled from Robotnik's mecha, Wesker wanted this machine ready tonight. We've also triangulated their position...Hatter had recorded where Robotnik would relocate to."
"Then I highly recommend that the League investigate the area as soon as possible."
Arbiter blinked. "There is a problem with that, Eleanor."
"I understand you're sceptical about this Giygas. I am too...I've read about enough doomsday prophecies to wipe out the solar system. But far too many of them have been serious threats for me to dismiss this claim. And even if this Giygas fear is unfounded, this development holds the key to at least two of the most wanted men on the planet."
"I understand that." Arbiter replied. "The problem is, we are very shorthanded. Because of a recent ambush, we only have a fraction of our force left. Almost all of our support is gone. We only have a small tactical team, and a few of our operatives are not ready for combat. And I have to ask...what about your own armies?"
Eleanor sighed. "Almost all of our official armed forces are off-world at the moment. A threat called the Reapers. I could muster up support, but it won't be available for at least a week. I'm afraid you'll have to use what forces you have."
Arbiter was about to object that it wouldn't be enough, but something stopped him. Would it be enough? He had seen these operatives in action. And he himself had faced worse odds than what this new mission would present. Maybe there was a chance.
"Understood, Eleanor. We will move out immediately."
"Good luck." Eleanor Lamb signed off.
Sofia turned to Arbiter. "Are you certain about this? The force we have left..."
"I know." Arbiter sighed. He was well aware of the potential odds. Robotnik would have an army of his machines waiting, and they'd be more dangerous than the automatons from the Cipher Labs. Arbiter retched at the thought that those were once his soldiers. And from what he'd heard about Albert Wesker...this would be incredibly dangerous even if they had a bigger army.
But if this 'Giygas' was what the records said he was, than this couldn't be overlooked or put off for another day. And he remembered going up against far worse odds and succeeding.
"We will need every operative that's capable of combat." Sofia noted.
Arbiter nodded as he walked out of the communications room. The ruler of Rapture followed him out, not certain he understood what exactly he had stated.
"Do you understand? EVERY available operative that can fight."
Arbiter thought about the Big Daddy he had met earlier and understood what Sofia was implying. If that beast had survived Rapture for years on end, it might be a valuable asset. And they needed every asset they could get right now. "Can the Rumbler be controlled?"
Sofia sighed. "At this point, only by the little sister. A scientist named Tenenbaum was able to manufacture a way to make him more...open to basic commands, but I will need to get in contact with her."
Arbiter groaned. "So if we want that Rumbler's aid, we will need to bring that girl along."
The Sangheili commander began pacing, working out a viable strategy. "We still need to be smart about this mission. A few operatives can guard the ship. This Rumbler is best at guarding, correct?"
"In a sense, yes."
"Then we can leave Masha and the Rumbler aboard the ship, in case that accursed Dimentio tries to teleport inside and rig another explosive. Aven can mind the ship himself, he's a decent pilot and knows the Master Chief. But I need another pair of eyes to watch Masha..."
"No. I want him in the fight. Considering his skill in recent events, he will be very useful. As you said, as many combat-capable operatives as possible should be in the field." Arbiter began counting them off. "Link, Lara, Snake, Gordon, the pyramid head, McCloud and what's left of his crew. Who does that leave?"
"Mario, Grace and Casey." Sofia answered. "Grace is good with children, but she's too old to handle assignments like this. Mario is...surprisingly capable, but we need him here to repair the area around the Bistro. Some of the windows and walls are cracked, and he has to patch them up before they start leaking."
"So it has to be the Chronicler." Arbiter remarked.
"With your strategy, yes."
Arbiter sighed aloud. "This cannot wait until we have more reinforcements."
Arbiter paused for a few minutes, thinking. He went over every possible scenario. Another trap? It didn't seem likely…they would be prepared for their arrival, but all this trouble just to kill them? Knowing the megalomania of the two scientists, they wouldn't make such moves without something big planned. If this Giygas wasn't a threat, then at least two wanted criminals would be there to capture. And if this Giygas was every bit as dangerous as he'd heard…
The commander turned his commlink on. "All available operatives, report to the deck. Link, report to Failsafe Armoured Escort. Be certain Masha is within sight. I need to speak to you."
"Why am I concerned for this world? It is not my own. This world is, in many ways, responsible for the fall of my covenant. So, why do I fight on it's behalf? Because a warrior I greatly respect did so. The Master Chief died a true soldier, stopping the Halo wars and saving the universe. Sometimes I wonder if what I did could ever compare to that. I suppose it doesn't matter. What matters is, I now have a duty to this world. I intend to do it as that warrior would have it done."
-Thel Vadum, The Arbiter
Masha had been chattering non-stop since they had left Mercury Suites. Not to Link, although she occasionally nodded and pointed to him. Link quickly figured out that she was telling her 'father' all about her adventures, though the snippets he heard were coloured with her unusual perspective. Tales of puppies, butterflies, magicians and toys eagerly poured from her mouth in a fast pace. Link wondered if the Big Daddy understood a word of what she said.
Their trek to 'Masha's place' was interrupted by Arbiter's request to meet with Link. The girl was somewhat disappointed that her daddy wouldn't get to meet Mr. Gun (a meeting Link doubted would go well), but she wouldn't disobey an order from Mister Sir. Besides, she liked Failsafe Armoured Escorts. It was where she got saw her Daddy.
Link found his commander waiting for him near the doorway to the protector factory. The Sangheili was tense, but pleased to see Link again. "There you are. I have something for you."
"Really?" Masha asked.
Arbiter sighed. "Not you, Masha. Could you stay here for a moment? I need to discuss something with Link. Don't move."
Masha smiled and gave Arbiter another salute. "Yes sir, Mister Sir!"
The commander sighed before motioning Link to come into the armoury with him. The youth followed his commander, leaving Masha to debate with her daddy if she could stop saluting without moving.
"I admit, I was rather suspicious of your skills when I first saw you." Arbiter acknowledged. "I didn't understand how bows and arrows, swords and shields would withstand the weaponry we fight with. I did not think you could survive membership."
Link nodded, having gotten that impression from their first meeting.
"However, recent events have proven your accuracy and skill. There are things your arrows can do that our bullets cannot. And your sword is every bit as effective as my energy blade. You're a strong warrior, and I truly respect that."
The boy smiled.
"However...many of your tools are still outdated. Particularly your shield...it's unwieldy and not very effective. I'm not sure what composes your sword, but your shield is common metal and can be penetrated with enough force. What more, you lose one of your hands to wield it."
They came up to a small white desk holding two weapons. Arbiter picked up what looked like a hi-tech wrist band. A large black circle was attached to the band, while what looked like a handgrip was attached with several wires. Arbiter began placing it on his own wrist, and it was very clear it hadn't been built for him.
"Normally, I would recommend power armour, but due to Veran's sabotage I was unable to get something in your size. That witch stalled too many projects while controlling Gordon, and we do not have the time to have one built now. Besides, it's clear to me you are at your best when you can move quickly. So, I had Gordon retool one of these."
Arbiter pressed a button on the handgrip, and a large shield comprised of blue energy appeared around the black circle. "This was once used by the Kig-Yar in the Halo wars...I think it will work for you. It's as effective as your own shield, but it's much more portable and frees up one of your hands." Arbiter deactivated the energy shield and removed the wristband. "And I think you've earned a better sidearm than that plasma pistol." The weapon Arbiter handed Link was the same size as the pistol, but brown, bulkier and without the plasma coil that required charging every shot. It looks a little more powerful and a bit more accurate.
Link took the pistol and shield, thanking his commander with a nod. However, the youth glanced back at the shield he was still carrying, thinking about all the times it had saved his life. Somehow, this little black thing wasn't the same. Somehow, his thoughts turned to the bow he had lost to Sander Cohen. He had saved Hyrule with that weapon, and now it was replaced with the crossbow and guns.
Arbiter noticed his look. "I realize your tools served you well in Hyrule. But this is not Hyrule. You need every advantage you can get to survive. You need to adapt." Arbiter took a deep breath. "Rtas had faith in you. So do I. Now, let's move out."
"Our force are depleted, our enemies at their strongest and our time is short. This is going to be a very interesting fight. We cannot wage a full frontal assault on their base, not with our diminished numbers. That would be foolish…knowing Robotnik's machines and the fate of our soldiers, we'll be sorely outnumbered. If we could free those soldiers, we'd have the advantage. Gordon has claimed that he could figure that out if he had access to the 'Roboticizor' and the control centre Robotnik uses to command his machines. We can track the signal used to control the robots, but we need the signal relay from at least one of the automatons in order to do so. Once we have that…to be honest, I am unsure if I should plan too much further. If that demon Dimentio is there, his teleportation will wreak havoc with our strategy. Somehow, I'm not certain how. Still, we should be smart about this campaign. Everyone should be ready for action on any fronts. I already have a strategy to get us inside, at the very least. After that…well, the priority is the Devil's Machine. That must be destroyed at all costs."
On the surface, the building looked like a colossal power plant. There were the cooling towers of nuclear power plants, steam and smoke filtering into the sky. The containment buildings surrounding the towers seemed unusually large and numerous, spread out to look like a spider's web. The entire place was the size of a city district and was placed in the middle of nowhere, but the cities who received electricity from this building didn't care. It gave them the energy they needed, and it didn't disturb them while it produced it.
Had they looked closer, they would've realized the suspicious nature of this building. The power plant didn't provide nearly as much energy as a plant that size would be expected to. A lot of the containment buildings were seemingly unnecessary, not being used to produce electricity or refine materials. It seemed like a lot of space and energy was wasted in the area.
And since when did a power plant require armed guards patrolling the area?
One of those guards was making his rounds, his night-vision goggles keeping an eye out for any intruders. For the first few hours, everything was quiet and it looked like whatever the boss was planning would go smoothly…whatever it was. All the man with the sunglasses had said was 'shoot anyone and anything that tries to get inside, and if security is breached, alert me immediately'.
The guard didn't ask any questions about what he was protecting. From what he'd heard about this guy, ignorance was bliss.
His patrol of the area took him to the west side of the structure, where he could see the electric gate that kept out any wild animals. Just as he was passing by, he noticed something. At first glance, it looked like a shadow. But when he checked that spot with his goggles, he saw a gaping hole in the fence.
The guard didn't waste any time. "Perimeter breach, West Side!" was shouted into his communications array before he even saw what had made that hole. It didn't take him long to spot the burglar. He blinked, not sure what to make of this sight.
Pyramid Head was already halfway to the building itself, dragging his colossal blade behind him. Slowly but steadily he made his way to the power plant.
This confused the guard. Wouldn't a burglar be more stealthy and discreet? Whatever. The guard readied his assault rifle and fired right at the huge thing's head. The first bullet richocheted off the triangular helmet. The second one missed. The third one hit, but the giant didn't notice it at all.
A few more guards ran into the scene, brandishing machine guns and shotguns to bring the trespasser down. They fired again and again, but it seemed that every bullet was either deflected back or absorbed by Pyramid Head. He didn't even flinch or acknowledge the guards. They might as well have been throwing pebbles at his skin. He just kept coming closer and closer to the building.
As the behemoth pressed closer, some of the guards panicked and fled, unable to down this thing. Others called in more backup, thinking that more bullets would stop this juggernaut. They didn't. He just kept pressing on and on, eventually getting to the wall of the power plant.
Considering it for a moment, Pyramid Head raised his Great Knife high above his head and drove it into the wall. Despite the walls being thick and sturdy, the huge blade cut right through it. With his great strength, the executioner cut a hole big enough for his hands to fit through. Placing his hands into the hole, the huge man tore into the walls and opened a way into the building.
Waiting for him was an army of robots.
"Thanks to Wesker's funding, I was able to produce more effective robots than my automatons back at Cipher. I based them on my SWATbots from when I ruled Robotropolis, only refitted with better weapons. Heh…and thanks to Dimentio, I have a sizeable amount of volunteers for the process. I'll have to thank him later. In the meantime, the Devil's Machine will be finished and operational in time for Wesker."
While a large number of robots had been deployed to deal with Pyramid Head, several of them still patrolled the interior of the building to deal with any further threats. The machines were much more sophisticated than the automatons. They resembled a large human in metal armor, a single red visor replacing any face they once had. Their arms were outfitted with machine guns, shotguns, shock blasters and plasma rifles, depending on what Robotnik had felt like while they were created. The SWATbots marched through the corridors, keeping mechanical eyes open for any intruders.
Snake had snuck into the 'power plant' through another way in, one that would be undetected by the guards. He had kept to the shadows, evading all patrols and cameras as he crept deeper into the hideout. He eventually found a safe place to wait until he had the perfect opportunity.
All he needed was one SWATbot. The headset of these machines would contain a link to the command centre, where Robotnik would communicate orders. If he could find it, get that link, and plug it into the tool Gordon had provided him with, they would be able to track the command centre and one of their problems would be solved.
It seemed like an eternity before an ideal opportunity came up. A SWATbot marched through the hallway, scanning the area for anything unusual. Any other guards were far away, and no cameras could see the machine. Perfect.
Snake leapt out of his cover and onto the SWATbot. Before the machine could react or sound an alarm, the stealthy operative had stabbed it with a specialized taser. Powerful electricity overloaded the robot's circuits, and the machine collapsed to the ground in a heap.
Once the robot had been downed, Snake set to work removing the helmet and getting at the commlink. It wasn't easy…the thing had been bolted on securely. Realizing that another guard would eventually walk down this hallway and spot him, Snake quickly used an acid to eat away at the metal. Soon, he was able to rip the helmet off the roboticized soldier.
The poor bastard was completely disfigured by the machine, his blood dribbling out of multiple cuts in his face. Snake felt a momentary disgust at what he had to do, but he quickly reminded himself that it was necessary. If this worked, they could free far more soldiers from their control than just this one.
It took only a few seconds for Snake to find what he was looking for. The commlink was much different from the ones the League used, but it's purpose was still clear. Now that he had what he was looking for, Snake shifted position until he was far away from the downed robot or other cameras.
The stealthy operative plugged the commlink into Gordon's device. With a barely-audible electronic hum, the signal that communicated orders to the SWATbots was traced.
Snake smirked. Step One complete.
"What was that maniac thinking? I told Wesker it was a mistake to put him in charge of the operation. Not only is my castle DESTROYED beyond repair, but the leaders and top operatives are still alive! Robotnik tells me that it won't matter, with all the bots he's manufactured, but knowing Heroes like this Arbiter, numbers aren't going to matter! Blithering idiot, this jester! Why couldn't he have taken out the leaders, like any INTELLIGENT individual would do?! Errgh…Wesker's little plan had better succeed…"
The signal traced to containment building 10, on the south side of the complex. Even though many of the guards were deployed to deal with Pyramid Head, and more were called to investigate the fallen body of a SWATbot, there were still a few guards patrolling the entrance to the south side. Two of them marched back and forth, watching for anyone who'd take advantage of the distraction on the other side of the building.
Suddenly, one of the guards fell to the ground with a slight thud. An arrow was imbedded in his skull. Before the other guard could sound the alarm, he was felled with another silent arrow.
With both the guards gone, the small team came out of hiding and approached the gate. Link, McCloud and Arbiter kept their eyes open for any further guards while Lara began picking the lock. Gordon watched the screen in his hands, tracking the signal that controlled the SWATbots. This device would lead them right to the command centre.
The door was very quickly opened and the team ran inside. An empty white hallway opened up to them, almost nothing inside except for a large screen on the wall. This caught the team by surprise. Even with the distraction in place, there should've been more guards patrolling the command centre.
Arbiter smelt a trap, but knew he had no choice but to spring it. "Hold onto your weapons." He commanded. "And be ready."
"For what?" McCloud asked.
Before McCloud could question further, the hallway saddened sealed up. Strong metal grates fell down in front of and behind the team, blocking their route. Arbiter nearly took out his sword to cut the barriers to ribbons, but then the TV screen flickered on.
"Arbiter, is it? We've been expecting you." A very old man with white hair and a blue coat appeared on the screen.
"Who the hell are you?" Lara demanded.
"Lucien Fairfax. The man whose castle was destroyed due to Dimentio's little…trick."Lucien tensed for a moment before composing himself again. "Still…I suppose it had to be destroyed eventually. It can't be helped. Not with what we have planned."
"What are you talking about?" McCloud demanded.
"I am speaking of the world we will create. A world without strife, war, fear or hatred. A world of order, peace and strength. A world we will rule."
"Of course." Arbiter groaned sourly.
"You scoff at us, but I don't think you realize the magnitude of our goals. The importance of what we must do. All of us have agreed…this world is rotting, a once beautiful gem being reduced to worthless waste. We are going to remedy that."
Two black fingers appeared behind Lucien's head as he spoke. Bunny ears? McCloud thought.
"But to create this world, we must cleanse the world with fire. We must destroy to rebuild. That is where Giygas comes in. With it's power under our command, we shall – "
He never finished. Before anyone could blink, his head exploded in a flash of purple and red. His decapitated body stood for a few seconds before collapsing, revealing the man behind him.
"Dimentio!" Link snarled.
"Yes." the jester chuckled, waving at the operatives with the hand he'd mocked and killed Lucien with. "You should be thanking me. When that man starts speaking, he goes on like a pretentious phonograph. What a bore. Aheheheh."
Arbiter had seen quite enough, having sliced through the metal with his sword and opening up the path.
Dimentio merely shook his head. "No no no no. It would be so boring if it was that easy. And who wants the end of the world to be boring? No…let's shake things up a little."
The jester snapped his fingers five times, and with several flashes of light, the hallway was empty. Dimentio laughed at what would be waiting for the League, where he had sent each of them…