"Ok…Due…to…future…circumstances…of…possibly…lethal…consequences…I…have…decided…to…dictate…my…will…to…the…League's…Chronicler. In…the…event…that…I…die…I…request…that…all…my…research…be…publicized…in…the…scientific…journals…and…what…remains…of…my…experiments…be…sent…to…the…Black…Mesa…science…division. Nothing…is…more…important…than…the…pursuit…of…knowledge. I…only…request…that…my…research…be…used…by…the…Coalition…for…the…betterment…of…the…planet. I…have…no…other…things…of…value…or…family…members…to…give…them…to. This…is…my…only…request. Doctor…Gordon…Freeman."
Arbiter was impressed with their progress. Pushing through the guards patrolling the hallways was surprisingly easier with Gordon at his side. Without the cover of darkness, it was easier for the SWATbots to locate Arbiter's attacks and evade them. However, they weren't prepared for one of their own barrelling into them at a high speed. Arbiter managed to chuckle at the irony that Robotnik's armour fell apart with simple blunt force. Someone fast enough could probably disable his entire army by jumping on them very hard.
The way these machines were built, it would still kill the occupants.
The passageway to where Gordon had been kept wasn't heavily guarded, and they only encountered a handful of SWATbots. Wesker must not have regarded this particular area as being particularly important. Judging by the signs, it was some sort of storehouse for backup electrical equipment, possibly to help keep the appearance of a standard power plant.
A huge vent was attached to the roof, large enough for a small man to crawl through. Arbiter wondered where it led. Whatever it was, Gordon kept looking up at it while he was walking. In fact, he was following it. Arbiter didn't understand why until he saw the hole Gordon had fallen through.
Eventually, they came up to where the pipe went back into a wall. It led into a room labelled 'Containment Room 2.55'. Gordon motioned to Arbiter that this was the room he wanted to go inside.
Cautiously opening the door and scanning the room, Arbiter opened the door to let Gordon inside with him. The room was filled with outdated electronic and electrical equipment. Trash that Wesker had decided wasn't worth using. Gordon stiffened slightly as he realized he had been dumped with the trash.
The only other thing in the room was a huge metal box, attached to the ceiling and connected to the huge vent. Gordon glanced at the cage, then turned toward Arbiter and knocked on the box.
Understanding, Arbiter drew his energy sword and stepped towards the box containing Gordon's suit. He raised his sword to slice the mini-cell in two…
And was abruptly stopped by Gordon, who raised his hand and shook his head. Nononono, not like that.
Arbiter sighed inwardly. "I wish you could speak. Where do you need me to cut?"
Gordon thought for a moment, contemplating the box and the position of the vent. He made an imaginary circle with his finger, tracing the size and position of the suit. The way the silent scientist kept him waiting made Arbiter feel a little like an idiot. A commander waiting for a superior to finish thinking about something. After a few minutes of contemplation, he finally made a slicing motions at specific angles and specific places.
The Sangheili commander nodded and began cutting. The metal was very thick, but the plasma sword was able to open up the box. Careful to follow the directions Gordon had made, he opened a hole in the metal cell. Or more accurately, he made a circle. The hole didn't fall out.
Gordon made a few more motions at the corner of the box. Arbiter felt like a student following a wood shop teacher's instructions. It was not easy for the commander to accept instruction from someone who wouldn't even talk to him. Still, he followed Gordon's directions.
Eventually, he was able to open up the mini-cell. Gordon reached into the box and grabbed something hard and heavy. With a little effort, he was able to pull out his suit. The hole was just big enough for him to pull out his armour without causing any damage. As silent as ever, Gordon began to put his armour on.
After a few minutes, Gordon was suited up and looking like his usual self again. He smiled wryly and brushed himself off.
"Right." Arbiter deactivated his sword, realizing he had used up a lot of energy in this endeavour. "Now, the Roboticizor. Let's…"
Gordon didn't move. Instead, he took something out of the pocket of his armour. He took the commlink out of his ear and attached it to the device he had taken out. It resembled the device Gordon had given Snake before they had touched down by the power plant.
Arbiter blinked. "What are you-"
Gordon simply held up his hand, silencing his commander. He then proceeded to continue working on his little device, almost like he was ignoring Arbiter. The commander just sighed and looked away.
Arbiter wouldn't have minded the silence if he knew what Gordon was doing. Right now, he just felt like a moron standing around and waiting for this mute to decide to listen to him. He gave up Robotnik in order to help Gordon get his suit back to fix the Roboticizor, and now this human suddenly decided something else was more worth his time? Arbiter was about to yell at the silent man but then…
Back aboard the Master Chief, Aven was still looking down at the fallen 02 when his commlink suddenly started sounding. Casey's was blaring as well, judging by the way she was wincing. "Owww…what's that?"
Aven tapped the button on his commlink, almost excited. "It's a distress signal…" the soldier ran off, moving quickly towards the communications room.
"Mr. Grumbles?" Masha followed right behind Aven, Rumbler and Casey close behind.
The communications room was a room with a lot of computer screens. The devices had been configurated for Aven's use, and he quickly touched a few buttons. A blinking light showed up on a nearby screen.
"What's going on?" Casey asked.
Aven tapped his commlink several more times. "The signal's being jammed, I can't get in contact with the others…"
"But isn't the signal contact? Technically?"
"…Yes, but I can't speak to them, or they to me. This is a cry for help, but I can't find out the details or even pinpoint their exact location. It's too scrambled, anything more complicated than an alarm is being blocked."
"But they need our help?" Masha asked.
"Clearly." Aven agreed. "Let's move."
"But the ship's damaged. If we leave it…"
"We'll bring it." Aven answered, smiling. "Arbiter told me that he might need the ship to move the soldiers. He said he would give a signal to bring it into the plant." He glanced at the bleeping light. "I suppose this is the signal."
Masha simply lit up. "We're going to the party? GOODY!"
Gordon sighed. It wasn't what he was hoping for, but it was something. He needed the actual signal scrambler to get the commlinks working again. And judging by the way the signal was bouncing, it would be too difficult to track right now.
Sighing, the scientist put the device back in his pocket and followed Arbiter outside. The commander was relieved that they were finally moving to the Roboticizor. It was time to end this.
"So, do you have a plan for when the Coalition's little league show up at our doorstep? You know they will."
"Of course I do."
"You fear the league? I could destroy them easily…"
"Yes, like you destroyed every single iteration of the Hyrule Hero every other century since the dawn of time. Or perhaps I remember that wrong."
"SILENCE, YOU CLOWN!"
"You have to admit, he has a point. People like Link have an uncanny ability to triumph over impossible odds. Many, many 'unstoppable' soldiers and 'foolproof' plans have fallen through because of critical oversights."
"So what do you suggest?"
"There are several rooms in the facility that cannot be exited with the power on. I imagine our friend Dimentio will be happy to trap them in those rooms."
"They'll find a way to escape. Like you said…"
"I know what I said. I also know that a lot of you are craving blood. I think I can solve both problems at once…"
Link was not comfortable at all with Pyramid Head. The giant was still splattered in blood, and the screeching noise of his giant knife on the metal floor was agony on his ears. Link knew the butcher wouldn't move to hurt him, but….there was just an aura about the butcher that would make anyone fearful. Link couldn't help but wonder if the guards were scared of him as well. They hadn't encountered any enemies on their journey.
The going was slow, with Pyramid Head dragging his blade. Link knew that the giant could take care of himself, but at the same time he wasn't willing to let him out of his sight. He wasn't able to contact any of the others, and Pyramid Head was his only link to the League right now. It was very, very unnerving to walk with him.
At least he didn't try to start any conversations.
The two operatives had been walking for several minutes through the corridors when they heard a very loud explosion up ahead. The entire hallway shook with the blast, and then continued to rumble as if something huge was coming in. Sensing that it was something important, Link cautiously stepped forward. Pyramid Head followed, completely unaffected by the explosion.
The room where the explosion occurred was a huge hangar. It was filled with aircraft, including helicopters, hovercrafts and several bizarre egg-shaped machines and robots. But most prominent of all was the Covenant Phantom that was flying inside the room, banging against multiple smaller vehicles. A lot of the hovercrafts were crushed under the huge purple hull as the Master Chief somewhat clumsily manuevered itself into the largest space in the room.
There were a lot of Security Drones in the room, all of them firing at the giant ship. Their attacks were pathetic, not even denting the hull. One or two lucky shots got into the holes that 02 had made, but with a secondary shield in place those shots were moot. Meanwhile, the Master Chief's weaponry was able to destroy the robots, clearing the area. The Phantom's arsenal destroyed the security robots, wiping them out it one hit.
Link wisely decided to stay back for the moment.
Soon, the room was empty of robots and drones. The rest of the room was filled with burning craters and ruined vehicles. Melted slag and ruined weaponry were scattered around the room, bringing back memories of a wrecked armoury. Aven's aim was still a little clumsy, but at least all the threats had been destroyed.
It was good that Aven found a room large enough to dock the Master Chief. Casey had pointed out the huge door that looked suspiciously like the hangar she'd fallen through in Orre. The Sangheili had to admit that it looked very out of place on a power plant, large enough to land an airplane inside. Once they had blasted the door open, it was easy to see it was where Robotnik kept his artillery, possibly where he had parts for his Roboticizor delivered. It was a transport hangar, a lot of big rigs. And a lot of easy targets to shoot.
Casey chuckled beside him, a turret control in hand. "Heh. Kinda like…" her smile abruptly faded.
"Like what?" Aven asked.
"Cipher." Casey almost sighed.
"Yeah." Casey pressed a button, and a flying turrent went crashing down. "I got to ride this insane robot thing. Just…just stomping through the halls, shootin' robots. Bang bang bang. That was before I found out…" Casey groaned.
Aven remembered. "Of course." He took another look at the machines. "These are too small to be…"
"Don't…don't." Casey shook her head. "It's not that. Not that at all. It's…cathartic. Just shooting away." Another turret was eradicated. She was actually pretty good at this.
Aven smiled. "I know what you mean." Another robot down, good riddance. The room was almost cleared. They could dock the Phantom here and then find the League. Find the source of the distress call. Once they had the ship close by, they could leave quickly if they had to evacuate, and Aven knew they would need to evacuate at some point. Knowing their luck.
When the shots finally stopped, Aven chuckled with satisfaction. "Room's clear. Now then…" Something came up on the scanners. "Wait…there's something else here. Two heat signatures."
Casey blinked. "Are they…"
"I am not sure…I think they're human, but one of them is strange." Aven piloted the turret towards where the two heat signatures were. "Switch to visual." Whatever the two heat signatures were, they were lurking behind a large crate. One of the Master Chief's turrets whirled around, aiming right at the crate. One powerful blast would wipe the out in seconds…
"WAIT!" Casey stopped him.
Aven would've demanded an explanation, but he quickly saw what Casey had seen. A longsword being held above the crate. He quickly recognized the sword as the one that gave him a nasty cut a long time ago. Smiling despite the memory, Aven turned to Casey.
"Link. Send him a signal that the room's clear."
"No prob, boss." Casey ran off before Aven could explain what would work as a 'signal'. Instead, she promptly leaned out a window and yelled "HEY LINK! COAST'S CLEAR!"
Aven just groaned. At least the message was received.
When Link received the 'signal', he came out of hiding and approached the Master Chief, Pyramid Head behind him. Casey, Jimi and Masha came out to greet him, Masha with a big hug and Casey with a sweet smile.
"I KNEW you'd be okay!" Masha chirped. "Didja have fun?"
Link didn't really have an answer for the little girl, simply giving her a half smile.
Casey gently broke up the two. "Thank God you're alright. What happened? We couldn't reach you."
"Or any of the others. What happened?" Aven demanded.
Link sighed, and began telling them about what had happened after they infiltrated the power plant. Lucien's speech, Dimentio (everybody cringed when he was mentioned), the separation, the fight with Sephiroth…
Link shrugged. "I have no idea."
"One of Wesker's little group. Don't concern yourself." Aven turned back to Link. "So you have no idea where the others are?"
Link shook his head. "No. Could you track them?"
Aven sighed. "No. Something's jamming the commlinks, as well as their tracking devices. The only thing that got past the scrambler was a basic distress signal, and I can't even track where in the building it came from."
Link sighed. "That's not good…"
"Whatever is happening, we need to find the others and fast. If what I heard is true, we can't afford to walk around this huge complex blindly."
The swordsman from Ordon thought for a moment, and then gave a half-smile. "There might be another way…I just need to go to the lockers."
Aven was a little confused by Link's request, but if the young human had an idea, it was more than he had right now. The lockers were where the operatives kept their personal belongings, stuff that wouldn't be necessary for the mission. Link had left some of extra gear there, including what he needed to find the others. He came in and quickly opened
Casey followed him in, scratching her head. "What do you need? How's it gonna fare any better than Aven's tech?"
"A gift I received in Rapture. The same thing that helped me find you when you went missing." Link answered, pulling out his wolf mask.
Casey nearly laughed. "Are you kid-"
And then Link put it on.
"…ding." Casey had to blink several times to assure herself that, yes, the boy from Ordon had transformed into a wolf that was now sniffing Lara's locker. Her jaw hung open and her eyes blankly stared at the scene that, a second ago, she would've dismissed as a fever dream. Jimi just stared as well, not sure what to make of this.
It was only when Masha came barging in and wrapped her arms around the hapless wolf that Casey was able to come out of her stunned stupor.
"Mr. Woof! You're back to normal!" Masha happily laughed. All Link could do was give an embarrassed whine as the Little Sister nearly knocked the breath out of him. "So fuzzyyyyy!"
Casey and Jimi rubbed their eyes. "Oooh-kay, that happened." Was all Casey had to say.
Aven and the Rumbler came in at that exact moment. On seeing her 'daddy' come back, Masha quickly removed herself from 'Mr. Woof'.
The Sangheili didn't see the transformed Link at first. "Casey, where is he? I-" his eyes fell on the large, furred creature with the Swordsman's eyes and earrings. Aven was…surprised, to say the least. He slowly turned to the chronicler. "…what?"
Casey shook her clear. "It's a…He's a wolf. Once they got… someone's scent, they can find 'em. Like he…yeah…"
Aven sighed. This was bizarre, but it'd have to do. "…very well…Link? Can you…find the others?"
Wolf Link nodded. There was enough of the other's scent on their lockers that he could track them down.
"Very…well. I'll go with you. I'm not sure how effective your teeth and claws will be against Robotnik's machines."
"Can I come too?" Masha asked. "I wanna help!"
"Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?" Masha gave the Sangheili big, moist eyes and the sweetest smile her crooked face could manage. "I'll bring my daddy!"
Aven was unprepared for such a tactic. "Er…ugh, very well, but may I ask that you be quiet?"
Masha nodded, making a motion of zipping her lip. Aven glanced down at the wolf. "Are you sure you don't mind?"
"Of course he's happy! Look, his tail's all waggly!"
Link cringed, and Aven glared. "Masha…"
"Sorry." Masha zipped her lip up again.
Aven sighed. "Casey, man the turrets. You, Jimi and Pyramid Head protect the Master Chief until we return."
"You sure about that?" Casey asked.
"As much as I can be. You have experience with the turrets, but little combat experience and no armour. Pyramid Head will slow us down. We need the ship to be protected until we can reconnect with the commanders."
Casey thought about objecting, but changed her mind. "Long as Triangle Top doesn't come with 10 feet of me…"
"You man the remaining turrets from the control room, 'Triangle Top' can guard the loading platform. Now let's stop discussing this and MOVE!"
Everyone nodded. Link, Aven, Masha and the Rumbler quickly exited the ship, the wolf in the lead. Once they were outside, Casey closed the door and Pyramid Head stood guard at the entrance to the ship.
Link sniffed the air carefully. Picking up the closest familiar scent – Lara's – he lead the strike team away from the Master Chief. Time to rejoin the league.
"Let me explain this to you, Albert. In order for my SWATbots to be fully operational upon completing the process, a signal beacon is implanted inside them during Roboticizing. The signal beacon is connected to my control centre, enabling the machines to receive their commands immediately after the process is complete. It's simply more efficient this way. The second they're out, they obey every command. Even better, the signal acts remotely. So if something comes up that requires a change of orders, Wesker, just let me know. You realize I cannot give you control of my machines directly, Albert. It's a complicated process, with several security measures that no-one besides myself has the intelligence to bypass. I realize you're smart, Wesker, but programming is simply not your forte. Leave this all to me."
Gordon and Arbiter moved through the corridors as quickly as possible. Arbiter had to get Gordon to the Roboticizor as quickly as possible. The sooner they got the SWATbots deactivated, the better.
Luckily, the journey back to the Roboticizer room was fairly uneventful. There weren't even any guards to interrupt them. Eventually, Arbiter saw the huge hole that Robotnik had fled out from when they had last fought. Upon opening the door, Arbiter and Gordon were greeted with the fallen body of the imprisoned Rtas.
Gordon glanced at Arbiter, who said nothing. The commander simply pointed to the huge machine in the room. The fully functional Roboticizor. The control centre for the evil scientist's twisted machines. If Gordon could decode it, they could possibly free their soldiers.
Not soon enough for Rtas, though.
Understanding the urgency of the situation, Gordon set to work. After considering the machine for a few moments, he began to push buttons and pull levers. It was a complicated series of requirements, based on a mathematical algorithm that a scientist like Robotnik would favour. A rather intricate security measure in case someone thought to reprogram the SWATbots from the control booth. It would take Gordon a little time, but he could crack the code.
There was a long silence as Gordon continued to work, occasionally going under the machine and investigating the wires whenever he had the chance. He just kept looking and pushing and working as Arbiter stood guard by the doorway…
A voice jolted both of them out of their concentration, causing them to whirl around to find the source. It was a very familiar voice.
"We can't have this end so easily, can we? Time for some MAGIC!"
Dimentio suddenly appeared in the middle of the room, laughing like a maniac as he launched one of his fireballs at the machine. There was nothing Arbiter or Gordon could do to stop the blast from hitting the control booth…
But then, there was nothing they needed to do. The magic fireball fizzled before it even touched the Roboticizor.
Dimentio froze for a millisecond, quivering with anger. "An…an anti-magic shield?! ROBOTNIK! YOU! ARE! NO! FUN!"
"Agreed." Arbiter remarked, firing his plasma rifle right at Dimentio.
The jester teleported away before the shot could hit. Dimentio reappeared several feet away, right behind Gordon Freeman. Unfortunately, he couldn't get in due to the invisible field, and awkwardly bounced off Robotnik's special security measure.
Arbiter fired again, and this time he managed to hit Dimentio in the leg. The jester roared with pain and teleported again, far away from the machine. The psychopathic clown growled with frustration.
"Well…as entertaining as crushing your last, desperate hope would've been, I guess I'll just settle for destroying you…with MAGIC!"