"An artifact known as the 'Anubis Stone' was stolen from a government base a week ago by some cult of religious fanatics. According to the tale of this stone, it is able to resurrect the dead with the proper ceremonies. Regardless of whether you believe that, it is extremely valuable, and the base wants it back. Furthermore, these cultists have issued threats against the coalition and clearly plan to overthrow it. A tip recently received tells us that the stone and the fanatics were seen in the ruins of a temple in India. The group is likely doing a ceremony using the stone. Your assignment is to recover the Anubis Stone as quickly as possible, and scatter these cultists. Oh, and if possible, capture the leader for questions."
-Sofia Lamb, recorded by Casey Lynch
Arbiter turned off the audio diary describing this new assignment. Recovering a museum artifact did not seem like a particularly challenging assignment, so his assigned 'task force' was small. He, Lara, Snake, and the fox McCloud were huddled in a small carrier, moving towards the 'temple ruins' they had been told contained the fanatics and the artifact. Another carrier carried several backups.
"Hand of the coalition, huh?" Snake sneered. "Bunch of errand boys. Out to grab a stolen museum rock."
The carrier kept moving. "I've been in these temples before, Snake. I've also had more dealings with artifacts like this Anubis Stone." Lara added. You would be surprised at how powerful they can be, and how accurate legends are, Snake."
"Again Snake, be quiet. We have almost arrived. I this assignment unusual as well, but I do not complain about orders from our superiors."
"What does a stone have to do with keeping peace, huh? We just go wherever the coalition tells us to, don't we? Just another group of government puppets."
"Here is a recording from the leader of these fanatics." Arbiter brought out another audio diary and turned it on.
"With the resurrection of our almighty king, we will have the ultimate power! We will cast the world in eternal darkness, and destroy the rulers of the places of light! All that is needed is the stone of Anubis, and we will have the world once again! Come, my brothers, let us take the stone and the king of darkness will walk on this earth once again! Rise, Gan-"
The tape cut off then, likely when it was discovered who was recording this. McCloud smiled. "I think that warrants some action, huh Snake?"
"A lunatic's obsession? Please."
"Silence. We are here. Ready yourselves. Pilot, place the craft near there. It appears clear. Now…" Arbiter stopped and took a look at the plasma rifle he had grabbed.
"What is this?" It was definitely not a standard plasma weapon. Another power core from a plasma pistol had been haphazardly welded and glued onto the side. The power cores had been combined remarkably well.
McCloud shrugged. "I dunno. Someone has been getting into the armory and tinkering with our guns. Mine was toyed with too when I was stocking up." He presented his own weapon, which now had a conspicuous metal piece on its end.
"And you still brought them?"
"I tried it out. Shoots straighter." McCloud shrugged again. "I'm not complaining."
Arbiter looked at his 'fixed' weapon with curiosity. He would have to look into this later. After this assignment was finished.
"I've looked at your offer several times, and…well, I accept. Team Star Fox would be happy to contribute to this league. To be honest, I do have a few reservations about working with…uh, a Sangheili, but other than that I don't have any trouble with the contract you gave us. Contact us again as soon as possible with more details."
The temple had been a holy place with impressive architecture and rich culture…a long time ago. Now it was reduced to a few stone walls here and there, with only a handful of moss-covered structures still standing. Nature had almost completely reclaimed this area…vines and creepers ate at the standing walls. Oddly though, there was no birdsong…the entire place was eerily silent.
Arbiter made the carrier touch down near the only complete structure. No one was seen outside. Lights blazed from inside however, announcing the presence of sentient life in the ruins. A strange chanting further announced it. The four operatives and backups stepped outside gingerly.
They were immediately greeted with gunfire. "GET TO COVER!" Arbiter boomed. Everyone obeyed, getting back onto the ship. The bullets rattled uselessly against the carrier's metal sides.
The rattling stopped and Arbiter looked through the small window of the carrier. There was nothing there…except a few large piles of leaves. Arbiter noted them and formed a plan.
Arbiter turned on his cloaking device, becoming almost invisible. "I need a decoy. Who will go out once I give the order?"
There was a silence, and then McCloud motioned to himself silently.
"Good. On my order." Arbiter stepped outside. He drew no fire…whoever was shooting could not see him with his cloak on. Nobody moved or spoke for a few moments. Then a voice came on McCloud's headset.
"I know where they are shooting from. Now show yourself. But be cautious."
"Got it, sir." Fox replied. Ready to run back into the safe area of the ship, McCloud stepped out of the docking door.
Several small creatures wielding machine guns rose up from under the leaves in a blink of an eye. Dekus were bizarre creatures, apparently made of wood. No-one was sure whether they dressed themselves with leaves or if they just grew on them naturally. Whatever the case, they were experts in hiding themselves.
Fox dove back into the ship just as they appeared. But before the Dekus could fire a shot, one of them was slain with a bolt of energy. The remainder looked around in frantic panic for whoever had hurt him, before being blasted with Arbiter's plasma rifle in rapid succession. Arbiter turned off his cloaking device and beckoned the others to come out. "Clear."
The other soldiers stepped out to no gunfire. Fox smiled. "How's the new weapon?"
"Fine. Let us finish this."
"It's almost finished. We will soon complete our own little circle. The League of the coalition will not stand against us when we are finished our preparations. But we should not directly challenge them…no, let us wait and continue our current plan, try to keep them out of our business. We will soon have the world…no sense in challenging its champions too soon."
Snake had wanted to go in first and look around. The man was an expert in espionage, hugging corners and sticking to the shadows until a suitable…disguise could be found. One was found relatively quickly. A man in red robes and a white mask with three holes in it walked past the hidden Snake. The man in robes disappeared and then reappeared a few moments later…it appeared. The robes made Snake itch but he left them alone, walking into the centre of the building where the chanting was coming from.
What met his eyes was staggering. A huge room covered with arcane symbols and lit with candles was packed with these fanatics. Legions of redrobes were standing alongside Dekus around a table where a huge man laid. The corpse was covered in a cloth decorated with sacred symbols, so it was impossible to tell who he was…or had been. He was big, and a hand outside the cloth gave him…greenish-black skin, oddly. And an interesting triangle-shaped mark on his hand that seemed to glow slightly. Beside him was a white sword, ready for him to draw…if he got up.
A large man in red robes and a strange mask, apparently the leader, walked up to the man on the table. "My brethren, we will make the king of darkness rise again tonight! Now is the time!" he boomed, and the chanting began again. Snake couldn't make out the words. One thing caught his attention though. The leader was holding up a tablet Snake had recognized from the briefing. It was the Anubis stone they were after.
Snake hung to the back. Confident that the chanting would drown out his conversation, he began talking to his commlink. "I see the target. There's a lot of these redrobes and Dekus around it though. They're having some kind of ceremony for the 'king of darkness'."
"Then we will begin scattering. Equip the goggles now. Make sure you grab the Anubis Stone and the leader, if possible."
The leader began doing something with the stone, chanting eerily over the man under the cloth. Snake didn't think much of magic, so he didn't expect the stone to glow suddenly over the corpse. The chanting grew louder…
And then smoke bombs came in through the windows, whizzing loudly. Several hisses and the room was covered in smoke, throwing the cultists into a panic. Snake ditched his disguise and donned his goggles, which allowed him to see through the smoke. Red-clad cultists ran around in chaos as the leader screamed.
Snake, dodging the cultists who were running outside in fear, made his way towards the leader and the stone.
The leader bellowed. "No! It is almost finished, do not allow him to ruin this! Stop him!"
The cultists, who by now could barely see in front of them, could not stop Snake, even though they got in his way periodically and he had to shove them aside. The leader kept chanting, much faster now. He was in a hurry to get whatever he was doing done.
Snake was close when the leader screamed "ODOLWAAA!"
Snake was suddenly slammed aside by a huge man. Scrabbling back up to his feet, Snake saw an enormous silhouette with a sword and shield in the smoke. An inexplicable ring of fire suddenly came around them and lifted the smoke.
Snake was trapped in a ring of blazing flame with a huge, tattooed man. The man was 10 feet tall, and wore a wooden mask with a scowling face. Tattoos covered his body, which was bare except for a loincloth and the mask. The masked warrior wielded a colossal sword and a diamond-shaped shield with similar markings.
The leader commanded. "Odolwa, kill this intruder! We cannot allow this to be interrupted! Destroy him! NOW!"