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Invaders

Chapter 3: Invaders

Passing through trees the Dark Angels followed Pip who was tracking the location of Surestone Fortress given to them by Mr. Abreo. Pip was suited up in his latest robotics. It moved with two legs and it’s body was cockpit shaped with a window in the front that Pip could be seen through. Guns and rockets were mounted on each side. The machine made Pip taller than everyone on the team except Bludge. “Alright we’re almost there!” Pip announced. They had made good time and so far seemed to be moving undetected. Everyone was suited up for battle with their usual weapons and gear. Pip was forced to lead a little slower than he would like because of Bludge trailing behind in the rear. Even being in peak physical shape, when Bludge wore his full armor and carried his shield it was impossible for him to keep pace with the others. His impressive multi piece armor was a shiny dark blue and his massive shield was currently strapped to his back. When the base was laid flat on the ground it stood taller than him. Elana on the other hand stuck with more modest attire. A white and red suit that was generally baggy allowing for a great range of movement only hugging tight on the wrists, ankles, and waist. Shenzen wielded his most trusted katana. He wore a black robe bound at his waist with a cloth sash. Fez wore his usual dark getup. Several hand grenades stored in his body vest as well as guns holstered on the outside of each thigh. He also wore his signature black headband that he claimed completed the look. Vectel wore the most casual clothes of the bunch. A striped T-shirt of casual colors along with tan shorts. Vectel enjoyed the attire because when he duplicated himself he always appeared to be an easy target. Lastly Arco wore his favorite coat and gray pants. The coat was a dark purple color lined on the inside with fur. He always wore it unzipped the bottom of each side coming down to mid thigh in length. At last the bunch came to a point where a clearing could be seen through the trees. “We’re here!” Pip declared. Bludge’s tired face lit up along with Fez. “Private Island here we come!” Bludge said with excitement. Everyone fell silent as Arco spoke, “We’re going to need a plan. Don’t forget the warning of Mr. Abreo. Pip, without getting close to the tree line can you get us a visual of what we’re dealing with?” “Oh course!” Pip said excitedly, happy to be useful. After working some controls from within the mech a small attachment released from its back. The object, no larger than a fist, resembled a remote control car. It drove along the uneven terrain almost in complete silence. Once it reached its destination it paused. Pip hit a button and a display appeared in the air in front of the arm of his mech. It showed a large metal building with its back against a mountain. The building had a large circular bottom level, a much smaller and taller middle level, and a high tower that protruded from the middle level. No widows were visible anywhere on the structure except atop the tower. Everyone scrambled to get a good look at it. “It does look like a pretty serious place. But why no fence? And I don’t see many guards outside?” Fez questioned methodically. “You all should’ve listened to Arco, it’s definitely a trap. They’re trying to make this look like taking candy from a baby to lure us in.” Vectell said, folding his arms. “Wait a minute clone boy.” Bludge said raising a finger, “More likely than not they’re not expecting company anytime soon. I mean this place is in the middle of nowhere! And since we’ve never heard of it I bet it was constructed recently. They’re probably still making preparations to defend it. Which means this is the best time ever to attack! While they’re unprepared and not expecting visitors.” Bludge said deviously. Arco spoke up, “Whatever the case, if we plan to free the prisoner we’re going to need a strategy.” Arco glanced around looking for input. Everyone thought in silence for a moment. It appeared that a few of them had ideas but no one dared voice their opinion until at last Bludge answered, “Like I said, I think we should go for a fully offensive attack. Speed is our best asset against an enemy who’s unprepared! I’ll bring us all close behind my shield and then we infiltrate. Simple as that.” Vectell looked as if he was about to lecture Bludge but Arco answered too quickly, “Not a bad strategy but we’d risk giving up our position. I’m certain they have someone watching the perimeter.” “True, I still think we could fight our way in though. Besides, if they pull out the big guns or it is a trap we can always retreat back into the trees.” Bludge reasoned. “I’ll tell you what. Let’s test your theory. I want you to walk ten feet into the clearing. If nothing happens we will execute your plan.” Arco said. “Wait!” Elana protested, “We haven’t thought this through enough. Boss you don’t have to give Bludge what he wants.” “I don’t know what that will prove but I’m fine with it.” Bludge said replying to Arco and ignoring Elana. Vectell perked up, “I agree with Elana aren’t we being a bit hasty?” Arco raised a hand silencing them, “Let him go.” Bludge smiled as he hefted the massive shield off his back. Everyone watched intently as he advanced. With the shield and heavy armor Bludge made a deep firm sound with every step as he trudged forward. He stepped through the edge of the tree line and came into the beautiful bright clearing. Surestone was a decently far distance but he could see it clearly. “Guys there’s nothing out here but a few rocks.” Bludge said continuing onward. He made it to his ten foot goal and paused, taking in the scenery. Ping! A loud noise sounded and Bludge staggered. Something had struck him directly in the forehead and was only stopped by his impervious helmet. “There’s a sniper. Retreat!” Arco ordered Bludge. Bludge was in a shocked stupor but the urgency in Arco’s words snapped him out of it. Bludge raised and planted the massive shield in front of him. He kept it in front as he walked backwards toward the trees. Several more bullets rickashayed off his shield before he made it back to the others panting. “Are you ok?” Elana asked in a panicked tone. “Where was he? I didn’t see anyone in the field and there’s no way someone could hit me from the base, it’s too far!” Bludge gasped. Arco spoke quickly, “Pip can you retrieve one of those bullets? Everyone else lets move to the left in case this area is attacked.” Everyone followed Arco without question. Pip switched the hand of his mech to a circular magnet that extended until one of the crushed bullets stuck to it. The long extension was reeled in and Pip followed the others through the trees. After a bit of walking the group halted. “May I examine that Pip?” Arco asked. “Of course!” Pip replied, handing it over. Arco pinched the small piece of metal between his thumb and index finger. He turned it around viewing all sides. Then it glowed with a small red aura. “Jenzu.” Arco said, his voice trailing. “What? You’re telling me they’ve got someone who can use jenzu to shoot a bullet that far? I’ve never seen anyone that could do that.” Bludge demanded. “Have you ever seen someone else that could light themself on fire?” Arco said, gesturing at Elana without removing his fixed gaze from the jenzu infused bullet. Arco spoke slowly, “It appears we are indeed dealing with an opponent unlike any other.” “What do we do?” Fez asked. “Considering we’ve given up our presence and position it’s time to enact Bludge’s fully offensive strategy. A head on strike. If something goes wrong we will use scatter tactic and evacuate to the trees.” Arco instructed. Panic was evident on multiple faces, especially Vectell and Elana. “Are you sure Boss? Who knows what else they can do. Like you said it’s probably a trap.” “If it is a trap they wouldn’t expect us to fall for it would they? Dark Angels advance formation.” Arco commanded. “You got it boss.” Bludge said raising his shield. Holding his shield in front of him Bludge trudged out of the protection of the trees once again. Then setting it upright he pushed energy into it causing it to glow with a bright orange aura. While glowing contraptions on the sides unlatched and extensions came out providing significantly longer horizontal protection. Instinctually everyone got into position behind the shields cover. The top of the shield was tallest in the middle where it came to a point above Bludge’s head. From there it came down on each side and through the extensions. Strategically the team positioned themselves from tallest to shortest with the tallest being close to the middle and the shortest being close to the edges. With the formation established they began to advance straight towards Surestone. The feat of carrying the shield, especially while wearing heavy armor was not something humanly possible. It was accomplished through Bludges unique jenzu ability that he had honed since childhood. Others had had success with strength jenzu in the past but never to the degree Bludge had attained. By stimulating his muscles with Jenzu he could push, pull, and lift objects like no one else. The only drawback to the incredible power was the immobilizing effect it had on his speed. The team made progress on their assault marching together in formation behind the shield. “Ping! Pang!” Bullets smashed against the metal repeatedly. This didn’t slow them in fact it made them move faster. Arco had often told them that if you’re fighting someone who wants you dead beat them to it. “Pip give us eyes.” Arco commanded. Reacting Pip sent out a small robotic arm from the top of his mech. A narrow camera peeked through the end of it. The arm maneuvered and bent at the joints until it barely peered over the top of the shield. Once in position Pip displayed the visual. From what they could see it appeared no soldiers were leaving the base to confront them. Instead there were a few more people on the roof watching at the edge including the sniper. “What are they doing?” Shenzen questioned. “Oh no. We are about to walk into a trap.” Elana resented. “Wait no, there is someone coming.” Vectell said. They watched as a man began to shimmy down a rope the others had just thrown off the roof. He landed and began to sprint in their direction. The others swiftly pulled the rope up. He ran along certain edges avoiding the worst of the marshy bogs that surrounded the west side of the massive building. “Pip can we get a closer look?” Arco asked. “You got it boss!” Pip said, happy to be useful. The camera zoomed and focused on the man. He had a pretty average build. His head was bald and his prominent features were a few scars etched across his face. It appeared he had grenades strapped to the vest he wore as well as a fair amount of other explosives. A large rocket launcher strapped to his back swayed as he dashed towards them. Time detonation bombs also appeared to be strapped to his thighs and calves. “Who is he?” Bludge asked not being able to watch the display as he marched with the shield. “Some kind of pyrotechnic.” Fez replied, “What do we do boss?” “If he tries to throw anything shoot it.” Arco ordered Fez. Fez nodded. “Elana when he gets close enough light him up.” Arco said. “I’ve got it boss.” she said. “Pang! Pong!” the shrill sound of bullets meeting metal continued to sound against Bludge’s bulking shield. They gazed at the display as they marched onward. The man was still a ways off. Suddenly the display transitioned to a default screen. “Hey Pip! Why’d you turn it off?” Fez yelled. “I didn’t!” Pip retracted the tiny mechanic arm and put it to eye level revealing that the camera tip had been shot clean off. “These guys are good. Everyone be vigilant!” Vectell said urgently. Everyone became solemn and stayed silent for a short time as they marched. Elana hugged the outer right side of the shield extension while Fez hugged the right. Both marched ready to strike the approaching man. A short time passed and they looked back at Arco for the go ahead. “Now.” Arco commanded. Fez whirled wielding dual machine guns. The man was perhaps forty feet off and hurled a grenade as soon as Fez was visible. Fez unleashed a barrage of bullets. The grenade exploded midair in a fantastic fashion before it could come near the Dark Angels. “Now!” Arco shouted a second time. Fez swung back behind the shield narrowly avoiding a shot from the sniper. At the same time Elana whirled around the right side, hand already ablaze. A column of fire roared from her hand directly at the man who was now about thirty feet away. He was in the process of throwing another explosive when the fire hit. “Boosh!” Elana swung back in. The man, whoever he was, was no more. A second later the full impact of the blast hit the team knocking all but Bludge to the ground. Bludge staggered backwards as the shield took the full force. After a moment all were back on their feet. “Excellent work.” Arco remarked. “Pip, can you send out the other camera? You may be able to better conceal it in the grass. “Sure thing!” Pip said, allowing the tiny camera with wheels they used earlier to drop to the ground. He maneuvered it slowly through the grass away from them until it reached a position that met his satisfaction. After zooming to the appropriate level the display returned. There was someone else coming now. A blonde girl in pink with her hair in pigtails and wearing a short skirt. She was not half as angry looking or threatening as the bald guy. In fact she looked very happy and seemed to be skipping as often as running. “Wait does she have wired headphones in?” Vectell said squinting. “Yeah I think so.” Fez agreed in confusion. She looked like she could be out for a carefree stroll to pick flowers but it was clear she was heading for them. “Boss what’s the protocol on the enemy sending out little girls to fight?” Fez chuckled sarcastically. “She’s not little, she’s probably a few years younger than me.” Elana argued. “Bludge, keep up this snails pace. I think we’ll be able to plow her over!” Fez said laughing at his own joke. “Never judge an opponent based on their appearance. Fez, when she’s within range you are free to strike her down.” Arco counseled. “She’s really pretty. I don’t know if I want to shoot her.” Fez said. Elana shot him a disgusted look. “I’m joking.” Fez said. Whoever the sniper was didn’t seem to be taking no for an answer. Bullets whizzed off the shield frequently as well as to the sides where Fez and Elana had poked out. They were now much closer to the fortress, only a little ways off from where the marshes began. “Here she comes.” Vectell said, prompting Fez. Fez rolled out a farther distance from the shield, dual machine guns blazing. Before Fez could take proper aim the girl was doing back handsprings out of his line of site. She was quick and her movements were sporadic. She would transition from a back handspring to a cartwheel in a different direction to a leap to the splits. This girl could move. Fez usually could always make up for any lack of accuracy with quantity but it was impossible to land a hit on this girl. Fez dived back under the cover of the shield avoiding the next sniper shot. “You missed.” Elana teased. “What’s she doing?” Vectell said. It appeared that rather than go around the shield she was headed straight for the center. “Shenzen!” Arco shouted. Right then the girl flipped flying over the top of the shield, feet raised high in the air. With lightning reflexes Shenzen lunges with his katana. Aiming to impale her before landing. He thrust the blade. The girl swirled in the air and knocked the side of the blade from Shenzen’s grip with a single motion. She caught him by surprise landing in front of him. Swifty she jabbed his neck, chest, and side hands glowing with a pink aura. Shenzen’s muscles tensed and then he crumbled. Mercury caught him beneath the arms before he could fall. Fez took aim and Elana’s hand ignited. “Careful you guys! You don’t want to hurt your friend.” Mercury said, holding Shenzen in front of her. “You guys are really powerful huh? You should come with me! As my prisoners. I could probably convince Goshen not to kill you. Maybe you could even join Enterprise!” Mercury exclaimed gleefully. The Dark Angels starred at the giddy girl in confusion. “What? Did my hair get messed up!” Mercury said in distress. Suddenly a bolt of electricity zapped both Mercury and Shenzen. They crumpled in a heap to the ground. “Who is this girl?” Pip asked, retracting the arm that zapped them. “I’ve never seen such agility.” Arco said impressed, “Pip, carry Shenzen. Leave the girl.” Fez looked at Arco dumbfounded as to why they would not dispatch her but said nothing. With the two main arms of the mech Pip scooped up Shenzen cradling him like a child. The team pressed onward. “Based on what we’ve seen from these few attackers I fear that now is not the ideal time to infiltrate. We can defeat them individually but as a group it’s likely we’d suffer severe losses.” Arco explained. “What are you saying boss? Time to retreat? When we’re so close!” Bludge blurted. “No. This is finally an opponent that is worthy of us. It’s obvious that they’re arrogant. Overconfident. It’s time to shatter their pride. We will give them something to remember us by and then retreat.” Arco said menacingly. Some exclamations of joy were heard from Bludge and Fez. “Vectell, when we reach the marsh execute scatter tactic. Everyone else attack when ready. Hit them hard and then retreat for the tree line. We have surprise on our side.” Arco instructed. As they came near the bog it appeared that someone was approaching on the display again. Pip zoomed for a closer view. “No, It can’t be.” Vectell said perplexed. The man was bald with a few scars across his face and many explosives. “It’s the same guy?” Pip said squinting. “Looks like it.” Fez said, scratching his head with one gun. “I guess we’ll just have to kill him again.” Elana mused. At last they arrived at the wetlands perhaps fifty feet from the giant base. “Go ahead Vectell’” Arco commanded. Vectell brought his palms together and straightened his forearms. His hands glowed orange and then the duplications started to appear. Copies of himself, Fez, Pip, Arco, Elana, Shenzen, and Bludge were created and began to run out from both sides of the shield towards Surestone. Using intense concentration Vectell was able to control all of them simultaneously as they spread like wildfire. Instantly they saw and heard fire and explosions directed at the dups. One by one each real member ran from behind the security of the shield. From atop the base Rosette and Sender fired mercilessly at the dups but their fire passed right through the fakes. With every draw of the bow Sender launched three arrows in different directions, each hitting its false mark. At this distance Rosette knew she was not missing her headshots but it was as if they were being attacked by hollegrams. The real Pip left Shenzen behind the shield and launched two missiles from the mech. He controlled them while navigating the most solid route through the bog he could find. There were four people he could see on the edge of the roof and he aimed the missiles to hit them on both sides. Sender swiftly shot one then turned and shot the other causing bright explosions in the air. It appeared to Pip that the largest man with spiky hair and his arms crossed was yelling angrily at the others. The bald man with scars was frantically throwing grenades and launching rockets all around the marshes but no one seemed to be dying. Suddenly the man became still. He looked down to see seven red knives that had pierced his body. An instant later came the explosion. The real Fez at last had made his way to the fortress before the four on the edge of the roof. Dual guns blazing he dispersed his fire. On the roof Tenful moved his arms and hands creating a large splotchy purple aura in front of him, Goshen, Rosette, and Sender. As the large onslaught on bullets entered the aura they traveled as slow as turtles. The four easily moved out of their line of sight before they exited the aura. From off to one side Elana unleashed a column of fire blazing into the aura. Once again the four each avoided the slow attack before it exited. Tenful created a small gap in the aura and Sender released three arrows all curving towards Fez at different angles. Anticipating the projectiles Fez crouched blocking his head with the guns. All three clanked against them with brute force. If Fez hadn’t braced himself it surely would’ve been a triple headshot. Just as soon as the hole in the aura had opened it closed up again. “Elana hit them again!” Fez yelled. Clearly confused, Elana decided to listen anyway and shot fire into the aura once again. After dodging the second attack Tenful opened up two gaps this time for retaliation. One in front of Sender and one in front of Rosette but as soon as they realized the tactic, it was too late. A barrage of bullets was sent through Sender’s body. The rip and roar of metal was furious as Fez released them without mercy. Sender stood for only a moment before collapsing. “No!” Rosette screamed in a shrill voice. As she turned she released the shot she had lined up. “Bam!” Fez clutched his shoulder. Rosette dropped the weapon running to Sender’s side. Tears streamed down her face. She clutched the body staring at her closest friend and ally. They had been through so much together. Similar in so many ways. Their relationship had never been romantic but secretly that was what she’d always hoped it would turn into. It seemed as if the thousand holes throughout his body were through her own heart. Goshen was yelling at her but she didn’t care. All other care and distress were tuned out in the moment. How could this happen? It never happened. They never lost anyone. “They’re getting away!” Goshen yelled with indignation. Taking matters into his own hands he picked up the sniper rifle letting loose a few shots. He hit a few of the many retreating invaders but he either actually missed or they were unaffected. The mass of people that had started as only a few gradually disappeared into the tree line. Seeing that it would be fruitless to punish Rosette right now Goshen turned to Mercury who had returned slowly as the effects of the shock had worn off. Her hair was now a blonde frazzled mess. “I hate to say it but we need your brother. I will have him pardoned of all past crimes and released.” Goshen said gruffly. “Yeeeeessss! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” Mercury shouted, jumping up and down rapidly. She ran over and gave Goshen a hug. “Get off of me!” He shouted shoving her to the ground. “Humph! I’m just excited.” She said crossing her legs and arms. Goshen stared down at her without forgiveness, “Don’t thank me yet. If those guys don’t kill him I might.”

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