"This 'Larxene' woman Dimentio's brought on is a 'Heartless', a magic-enhanced human with no emotions. I'm not sure about the 'no emotions' part, I've seen her display utter glee at the notion of killing our adversaries. Probably why Dimentio got interested in her in the first place. But apparently, they cannot be killed by anything but another Heartless' powers. Fascinating. Since I highly doubt the Coalition would trust a Heartless in their little League, this gives her a distinct advantage. They cannot kill her. But she's too unstable to be anything more sophisticated than an assassin. I don't think she minds, though. When I told her she'd get her hands dirty, she laughed that irritating laugh…ugh, I hope I don't need to speak to her again."
Lara wheezed for breath as she kept running through the corridors. She knew Larxene was behind her, and with the blackout over she couldn't count on the darkness to keep her safe. Her bullet clips had been emptied, her breath exhausted. She could still hear that shrieking laughter in the hallways behind her…she wasn't sure how long she could last.
"Heeheeeheheehehheee!" Larxene laughed in the distance. "You can't kill me, Lara! Only someone like me can kill me! Face it, it's hopeless!"
Lara wasn't sure if she was telling the truth or not. All she knew was that if something didn't happen soon, she'd be dead and…
She turned a corner and encountered a wolf.
Acting on instinct, Lara let out a swift kick to the wolf's head. The beast stumbled backwards, knocked off it's feet by the blow. But before Lara could continue his attack, she was stopped by a strong hand.
"Lara! It's okay!" Aven whispered fiercely.
On seeing the Sangheili minor, Lara calmed down. "Aven." She sighed. "Someone's after me. Calls herself 'Larxene'…"
"That's who we were hearing?" Lara nodded. She glanced down at the wolf who was picking himself back up. "Where did you…"
"I'll explain later. What can you tell me about this 'Larxene'?"
"She…she uses electric attacks, I unloaded all my bullets into her but she's still coming. I guess…she said something about 'only someone like her can kill her'…"
"Wait, she uses electric attacks?"
Lara whirled around to see Masha and the Rumbler standing nearby. Masha was looking up at the sprinkler system on the roof, connected to a large water pipe. Before Lara could question what the little girl was doing here, she broadly smiled.
"I got an idea!"
Larxene hated to admit it, but this chase wasn't any fun anymore. It was just tedious. When was this stupid little woman gonna stop running? She thought that the dumb bitch would've collapsed by now with exhaustion or just bled out, but no. She could hear this operative fleeing through the facility, and with the blackout in place she was somehow able to get a head start.
But she was catching up, and once she finally found her…oooooh, she'd make her suffer. Suffer in a way that didn't need any knives. It was always more fun to make them twitch with the electricity she commanded than stab them with her steely knives. It really got her off.
As the Heartless girl strolled down the hallways, she could faintly make out heavy breathing ahead of her. Her young face warped into a sadistic smile as she imagined the torment she'd put that pest through…
From the sound of it, that girl was just around the corner. Larxene didn't bother to suppress her giggles. In preparation, her fingertips began to spark with electricity. She could feel the buzz already, and her lightning became stronger and stronger as every twisted detail of Lara's fate came to her head…
Then she heard a loud boom. Before she could even react, a huge rocket was fired into the ceiling above her. She whirled around, lightning sparking to face whatever was stupid enough to miss her.
A giant palookas in a disgusting looking diving suit? It looked like he had been waiting in another room for her to pass by. Well, it must've been every bit as stupid as it looked if it had missed her and hit the…
She only realized that when the water came cascading down onto her head and the lightning bolts in her hands. Becayse of the moment she had taken to turn around and face the Rumbler, she couldn't register the water fast enough to teleport away. By the time she realized she'd been tricked, it was too late.
The water conducted the electricity she was carrying, shocking her with every bit of pain she'd hoped to inflict on Lara. Her entire body convulsed, keeping her from drawing her knives. She twitched violently as her beloved electricity coursed through her body…
"Look daddy! She's dancing!"
The water kept pouring onto her, and the electricity kept shocking her until her entire body began to burn. Her lightning bolts were more powerful than regular electricity, and within a short time, Larxene was killed by her own power.
The electricity fizzled out of the girl's corpse, and she collapsed to the floor like a wet rag.
Lara stepped out of her hiding place, breathing a sigh of relief. "At least that's over."
"We still need to find the others." Aven reminded them as he came out with Wolf Link close by. "Arbiter, Gordon, Snake and McCloud."
"But with the commlinks jammed…"
"We have a tracker." Aven motioned towards the wolf, who just nodded. "We will find them."
The wolf sniffed the air, and quickly found a new scent. The tracker began to run in another direction, hunting down the remaining members of the League.
"Robotnik. I need you to create a Signal Jammer that can scramble both the trackers and the communicaters of the Coalition's League. If and when the League come to our doorstop, we'll need to impede their efforts in every way possible. Dimentio's plan is good, splitting them up. But if they can still communicate, they can still organize a counteroffensive. Also, if possible, make this jammer portable. Let me know when it's complete."
Arbiter never thought much of sorcery, but he had to admit that it gave the wielder a remarkable tactical advantage. Dimentio's magic was tougher to avoid than gunfire. It was never clear where or when the next attack would occur, or even what the attack would look like. All the commander could do was stay on his toes and keep trying to shoot the clown.
Dimentio seemed to favour blasts of electric energy, fired like baseballs at his enemy. He'd often cause a small, random explosion to happen at Arbiter's feet. But those weren't his only tricks. Just when Arbiter thought he had Dimentio's pattern figured out, he'd throw out a new spell that turned the floor to ice or caused multiple versions of himself to appear. Worse, he was constantly teleporting around the room, never staying in one spot for very long. Gordon couldn't help, as he was completely focused on reprogramming the Roboticizor command centre. Arbiter was careful to conserve his ammunition until he was sure he had a decent shot.
Even then, Arbiter only hit the jester two or three times. None of the shots he made were killshots, grazing the magician's leg or arm. No blood came out of the wounds, but they clearly hurt him. His voice became angrier and angrier as he continued taunting Arbiter.
"What, can't the noble traitor of the Covenant shoot straight? What's the matter? Scared? Huh? That didn't hurt!" His ranting lost the poetic, teasing edge he once had and was replaced by pure, irritated rage. "Come on, can't you manuever past magic? I'd think the leader of the Coalition's little band of errand boys could manage everything."
Another barrage of attacks, including several spikes shooting up from the floor. One of the attacks jabbed the Sangheili's foot, but it barely made him bleed. "I manage fine."
"Oh is that so?" Dimentio flung another electrical attack at Arbiter. "Did you even have a plan when you came in here?" Arbiter shot, missed, and Dimentio multiplied himself. "I imagine that my magic wrecked that, didn't it? Split up like a gang of cheerleaders with a snake tossed at them!" Dimentio spun around Arbiter, laughing away to try and provoke a reaction. "Even when that handy little blackout let you out of your cages, your group just stumbled about in the dark, accomplishing nothing!"
Gordon kept tinkering with the Roboticizor, but something came up that made him groan with frustration. He was missing something…
Dimentio tried to attack with another lightning bolt, allowing Arbiter to pick out the real jester. A shot to the torso, but it didn't kill him for some reason. But when it hit, there was a sharp noise on Arbiter's commlink that made him wince.
The psychopath vanished, and started ranting again. "GAH! Lucky shot. That's all you got. Luck. You're out of people, you're out of time, and you're just wasting MY time!" Another attack, coming from the shadows. "Dealing with you is going to cost me my Grand Finale, when I merge with Giygas."
That made Arbiter pause. "MERGE? You plan on merging with this being?"
"I did, but then that idiot Robotnik prevented me from crushing your hopes, and now you won't lie down and die!" A fireball attack. Dimentio finally revealed himself. "It's not gonna be long now, Wesker's probably already started!"
Once Dimentio had reappeared, Arbiter noticed something. The spot where he had hit Dimentio with his last shot was sparking…there was a device strapped to him. Some sort of transmitter that deflected the shot, preventing it from doing any damage.
Wait…that noise…that's the signal jammer! When it got damaged, the scrambler…
"You miserable little insect…" Dimentio snarled, readying another attack. "Ruining my chance for glory! Time to die, Arbiter!"
Dimentio renewed his attacks, firing magic shots even more aggressively. His teleportation became more frequent, keeping Arbiter from drawing any sort of bead on him. More and more of the magic attacks hit, knocking Arbiter around. Still, he kept on his feet and tried to take out the damned magician. Dimentio had stopped taunting him, instead just focusing on the offensive.
With his attention focused entirely on Arbiter, he didn't notice a figure slip into the shadows of the room. He did, however, notice the fox Therianth come in a few seconds later and shoot him in the back.
"AUGH!" Dimentio whirled around to face the new attacker, opening up his back to Arbiter. Another shot forced him to teleport again. The floor iced over, attempting to disorient the two operatives. It didn't work very well, and when Dimentio reappeared, he was shot at twice. Neither shot hit, but Dimentio was starting to get scared. Two assailants to deal with. This was not good.
It occurred to Dimentio that the best thing he could do now was flee. But he wasn't going to run away like a dog. No, not without getting the last word.
Dimentio suddenly reappeared and flung an invisible blast at Arbiter and McCloud. The two operatives felt as if a train had hit them, even though it didn't look like anything had touched them. They were knocked off their feet, preventing them from drawing their weapons for a few critical seconds.
Dimentio laughed at them. "Well, it's been fun, but I simply must be off. It's time for me to shape the world, like –"
He never got a chance to finish. The clown had the misfortune of reappearing right next to where Snake had been hiding, and the stealthy operative took advantage of the close proximity and leapt onto Dimentio. Snake grabbed his knife, ready to take out this irritating enemy.
"GAH! WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?!!?"
The shocked magician tried to shake off Snake by randomly teleporting around the room. But the operative was able to hold on, and tried to stab the damned clown. With the way the clown was moving around, though, it was difficult to get a good hit in.
"GETOFFGETOFFGETOFF!" Dimentio roared.
Realizing that he wouldn't be able to hold on much longer, Snake made a powerful thrust right at Dimentio's chest. It didn't hit flesh, but it pierced the metal of the signal jammer. Dimentio finally managed to blast Snake off, sending the operative rolling onto the floor.
"Why you …huh?"
The knife was still imbedded in the signal jammer, and the entire thing began sparking. The electricity went through the knife and into the jester's chest, causing his entire body to twitch and spasm. "EEEAAUUGGHHH!"
Before Dimentio could recover, Arbiter aimed his plasma rifle right at Dimentio's head and fired.
In a second, the psychopathic jester was dead. It seemed almost anticlimactic, seeing the monster who caused them so much trouble fall to the floor.
Without blinking, Gordon walked up, cut out a piece of the transmitter and some wires, then walked back to the Roboticizor and continued his work.
McCloud rubbed the back of his neck. "Well…that was over quick."
"Good. We might be running out of time." Arbiter checked the commlinks. They were working again, with the transmitter Dimentio was carrying destroyed. "Gordon, is the Roboticizor reprogrammed?"
Gordon held up his hands, using his fingers to count down from four as he continued to tinker with the new transmitter. There was a beep, and Gordon gave his commander a thumbs-up.
"About time things started going our way." Snake remarked, but then they heard a loud rumbling. Gordon found something else, which he quickly presented to Arbiter. Whatever it was, it was serious.
Arbiter turned on his commlinks. "Time to go."
"Heheh...the blackout and the sudden release of the League was an unexpected problem, but things are going smoothly. Dimentio, Sephiroth, Larxene, Robotnik and Mercer are gone, which just leaves me and Ganondorf. And that old fossil is nowhere to be seen. Giygas is coming soon, and once I've merged with him, the world is mine to recreate. I've got big plans. Just a little more time…"
Aven's group had been walking through the halls hunting Arbiter when the signal jammer went down. The second the commlinks came on, Aven quickly responded to the call.
"Aven. Where are you?"
"We're in the facility."
"The distress signal…"
"No matter. I'm with Gordon, Snake, and McCloud. Are the other operatives accounted for?"
"Yes, I'm with Link, Lara and Masha. Casey and Pyramid Head are onboard the Master Chief"
"Link?" Lara blinked and looked down at the wolf. Now that the communications were open again, the wolf used his forepaws to remove the wolf mask. Returning to his human form, Link clicked his commlink.
"This is Link."
Lara blinked again. "Er…Lara here."
"It's working again? Great! This is Casey, here."
"Good." Arbiter commented. "Now, here's the plan. According to the notes Gordon discovered, the Devil's Machine is inside the centre area of the power plant. Judging by our current positions, my group is closest to the south side, while you are near the north side. Link, Lara and Rumbler will enter the north side, just…keep moving straight from your current position. Aven, you return to the ship."
Aven blinked. "What? But I…"
"We will need a good pilot on the ship for a quick escape if anything happens."
Aven was a little resentful of the fact that he'd just got off the ship only to be put back on, but he couldn't argue with that. "Understood, sir."
"Casey, Gordon reprogrammed the SWATbots, and I'm sending a squad of them your way. If all else fails, we can rescue some of our soldiers. Expect Aven and several SWATbots to enter the ship."
"Long as Pyramid Head lets them onboard, there shouldn't be any problem. You gonna be OK, Link?"
"Of course." Link chuckled. "I'll be fine."
"Excellent. Now, everyone get moving. If Dimentio is to be believed…"
"Anyway, if he's to be believed, the Devil's Machine has been activated. We may not have much time. Once we arrive at the central area, we take down Wesker and destroy that machine by any means necessary. Now let's move!"
Nobody wasted any time. Aven returned to the ship, while Gordon ordered the SWATbots to move. One contingent went to the Master Chief, where Casey's commlink signal was located. The other, a smaller group, went to the centre room. Arbiter felt ashamed to control the soldiers like this, but if Wesker and Giygas were as dangerous as he had heard, they would need all the backup they could get.
Arbiter's group was the first to arrive in the central area. Arbiter burst the door open, guns at the ready.
The central area was huge, an almost empty room with only a few walkways suspended several metres above the floor. The room itself was almost barren, but it wasn't the room that grabbed everyone's attention. It was the device in the middle of the room.
It looked…difficult to describe. A gigantic mass of tubes, attached to the floor and ceiling and connected to a gigantic sphere in the centre. The Orb was stainless steel, with what looked like a ruby window in the centre. The tubes seemed to be pulsating and pumping…something into the orb. The entire thing was covered in arcane symbols and sigils nobody recognized. The entire thing was rumbling and shaking, like there was something inside trying to get out.
What looked like a face was swimming inside the ruby.
"You're too late."
Arbiter whirled up to see the speaker.
Albert Wesker was an unusually tall man with blonde hair. Powerful muscles were hidden under a black leather coat, cold eyes behind a dark pair of sunglasses. He was leaning on the handrail of one of the walkways, smiling coldly.
"The machine's already started. Giygas is inside…it's merely a matter of time before he's ready to emerge."
"Then let's not waste any time." Arbiter pointed his rifle right at the man and fired.
It would've hit, but something odd happened. The millisecond that the plasma should've connected with his chest, he moved out of the way. The millisecond the shot passed him, he moved back into his old position. The shot hit the wall behind him, and he returned to his old position.
"You'll be wasting your time either way." Wesker laughed. "And truth be told, I'll be wasting mine, dealing with you. It's not like you can prevent Giygas from being reborn."
Arbiter tried shooting at the Devil's Machine, but another force field deflected the bullet. Hate these things. Arbiter growled.
Wesker casually took out a pistol from his jacket and loaded it. "Still…I suppose a brief diversion before the end of the world couldn't hurt…"