Wasteland Chronicles: Zero Blade

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#7

I’m Zero. I am driving under-age. Hmm, that’s not really the point...

I banked a hard left as the mechanian vehicle chasing launched missiles at our truck. Anzo aimed his pistol on the enemy’s vehicles, but most of the bullets were blocked off by the heavy armor. I continued to stomp in the accelerator, and the truck lurched forward, barely avoiding the enemy fire. Then from the air, Gwen turned and shot missiles at the enemy, the first shot incapacitates their power-shield, and the second one destroyed them completely, leaving only traces of red-hot metal that are the only reminder of their existence. The others emerged from the smoke, machine guns blazing to life. I slammed the brakes and we swerved into a right drift, narrowly avoiding crashing into a tree.

Gwen’s escape team touched down as the former prisoners unloaded from the hovercraft. Although some of them seem excited, most of them are disoriented and confused from their time in prison. Travis kindly led the way as our rescued brethren entered our fortress at ease. On the other hand, Gwen, Miki and I quickly moved our gathered food to the refrigerator, and I planted the tomato seeds in a plastic container filled with soil that I obtained from outside. Then I ran a hose from the water tanks and connected them to the gardening sprinklers. Walking into the kitchen to find the girls cooking dinner, I offered my help to them. Finally we can eat some actual food other than our bland, tasteless provisions, I thought. Afterwards, I returned to my room, aka the main control center, where Ned, Beckendorf and Miki waited for my arrival to give instructions. I switched on the holographic screen, and a red pin stood sharply out on the map, marking our next mission’s location: The Salvager’s fortress.

* * *

Danson and Kayson excitedly boarded one of the tanks that was loaded onto a hovercraft, most of its vacancies taken up by other tanks. The Desert Hogs boarded their Road-Fury double decker bus, and our whole gang (except Bowman, Anso and Kite - with the other escapees rescued from the previous mission) climbed on board the other two hovercrafts and the truck. We sped away on our way to seize the salvager’s fort.

* * *

It was three days after our departure when the Salvager’s fort came into view. According to Ned who is busy controlling his drone and telling his new buddy, Zack, what to do, we had held the best possible advance position. Wielding my power-blade, I held it forward towards the Salvager’s fort as a signal of attack, and our friends advanced in the dark of the night.

Jayson and Hadeson took their positions as snipers on top of two giant rocks. With shots, the front door guards were taken down. All that is left would be going into the fortress and taking down the mechanian camps. Gonzo and I lumbered to the gates as I pressed my thumb on the access panel. The gates slid open and we silently entered the fortress, the tank circling back to fire on the enemy camp.

* * *

The fortress was cleared empty except for our forces, and I poked my head around, searching for the legendary salvager’s sword, but it seems that it was hidden well somewhere. We alertly made our way into the main control room below and I again prodded my thumb on the access panel as it verifies my biological signs. The fortress activates as the guard systems whirrled to life, and from the CCTVs we see the mechanian soldiers rallying in alarm. Just then, a shot punctured a hole in the enemy frontline. Our tank came into view as its cannon was charging up to fire again. Our group then split up and scattered to the watchtowers and front door. I ran up the fortress’s stairs to the watchtower. Then bullets rained down as I ducked below the trapdoor. To my horror, Elizabell dropped to the floor simultaneously when a devastating gunshot rang, a pair of crimson spread under her lifeless form. To my left, Jayson was shot as well. He looked extremely pale and his limbs began to give way. On the next tower, Gonzo clutched his left biceps and Annibell laid dead as well. Connor, on the last tower, took a deep plunge down the abyss as he tried to dodge the bullets but lost his balance. With a thud, his body landed on the ground, and he was clearly dead. I gritted my tooth as I topped my earpiece and called for reinforcements. Kite linked up to the line and now Bowman, Anzo and twenty other people, rested and well, rushed to our aid in full gear, and Kite stayed with the thirty people at our fortress. I rushed back to the main control centre and called upon my friends. They assembled, the feeling of shock conquering their expressions as they accepted the truth of the deaths. I felt like a barrel of petrol which had been lighted up, as the fire inside me blazed brightly, ready to explode at any moment. I walked up to the gate and opened it. Then, I drew blades and did the most reckless thing I did in my life. Without a bullet-proof vest, without armor, without cover from allies, without a power-shiled. I charged, aware of the fact that I will go berserk. To my surprise, I remained in control and sharp focus as I went berserk.

* * *

It was not the enemy’s bullet rain that shocked me, but rather my own bodily instincts automatically shifting into the auto-fight gear. I watched myself throw power-daggers like a ninja --- stealth masters in the stories of mankind history --- and causing mass destruction with my two power-blades: full offensive mode. I rolled between a soldier’s legs as he shot in the general direction where I was a split second ago. The bullet sliced through the air and found it’s mark --- but not on me. It hit another unsuspecting soldier from behind, instantly exploding into a small eruption of metal shards and flames. Meanwhile, I hadn’t been watching the scene unfold motionlessly. Stabbing my blade hilt-deep into the neck of the soldier, it was immediately rendered useless. I dashed through the open field, ducking bullets and leaping as a compressed blast landed near my feet, The momentum sent me flying for a second as I landed on a cold, metallic figure. Immediately realising what I landed on, I grasped his gun and shot him in the head, and proceeded to wreak havoc with my newly obtained weapon. Tearing down the central tent of the mechanians’ base, I counted how much damage I did with my very own hands after no metallic figures came walking towards me with guns blazing. Cutting down the hinges that held the tent together, an enforcer sat absolutely still, judging from his special custom color scheme and armor. A red digital alarm clock was displayed on his back.

“Oh-four, oh-three, oh-two, oh-one...”

I realised with a terrible shock what was about to happen. The enforcer had gone into self-destruct mode.

The world lit up in a twinge of red and the shock immediately debilitated every part of my body. My ears were ringing and my eyes were failing. My brain failed to process the overwhelming influx of information.

I lost consciousness, yet again.

* * *

I woke to an unfamiliar hum, and my senses began to come back online. Searing pain coursed through my body as I realised someone was tending my wounds. I tried to sit up, but my limbs were burning with pain. I passed out again.

* * *

finally came around for good, and my friends had let me sleep in a room. I realised that I must be still in the salvager’s fort. Then my brain started to load in the memories of the deaths, and my berserk destruction. I stood and went to find my friends. In the mess hall, Miki was talking to Ned with a hushed tone. I decided not to bother her as I made my way to the watchtower. From there, I see that many of my friends were cleaning what is left of the enemy camp. Apparently, Danson spotted me, and he waved. I waved back and walked to join them.

* * *

It was evening after dinner when I finally got the time to explore the fortress. On the left wing is the hangar, the left watchtower, bunks and a kitchen. On the right wing was a storeroom, bunks and a sick bay, judging from the medical supplies stored in the cupboard. Then, in the middle, I was walking back to my bed when I noticed something wrong with the floor. A square tile of the floor was not on the same level with the rest of the floor tiles, slightly shifted upwards. I called out and Miki, Ned and Danson came. I pushed downwards, and the square retracted into ... somewhere below. A passageway formed in front of us into the underground, stairs leading us into the abyss. I turned on my headlamp as we walked down, revealing a hidden staircase. After descending for about 50 meters, we stopped at a door. Next to the door, a twinge of blue lit up with mechanical chirps, and I knew immediately that this was the access panel. I pressed my thumb on the access panel, and as the heat from my hand transferred to the cold panel, the door slowly screeched open, revealing the salvager’s fort, and a big titanic mech chained behind it. Examining the room, I struggled to make out the words “Guardian Mech” and “Salvager” imprinted on the wall, the stone characters mostly eroded away through time. Somewhere close to the stone words, something was gleaming brightly even in the immense darkness of the room, unwilling to be consumed by the darkness surrounding it. Its sharp edge glinted with a spine-tingling glow, and we realised that this was our target the whole time: The Salvager’s sword. Pulling the sword out from its embeddedment, a light sparkled on where my right thumb gripped the hilt, and a green light travelled down to a circular connector connected to the hilt of the double-edged blade. The blade retracted as the circular connector lit up simultaneously as the Guardian’s eyes next to it, glowing green like my first power-blade. The dark staircase and room lit up, and we stared in awe at the full might of the mech.

* * *

I didn’t notice the robots until Ned cried out for it. A holographic projector on the ceiling blazed into life, illuminating the words “Trial 01: Training robots”. My new Salvager’s blade extended by its own, and the connector glowed purple, same as the blade and the circular ... targets? These flat circular discs were located on each of the robots, so it is most likely my target to destroy. I boosted myself forward, then began to hack, slash and parry. Whenever my purple blade touched the circular discs of the robots, their eyes stopped glowing and they powered themselves down. It wasn’t long before I downed the last one and stood there, one of the fastest and easiest battles of my life. My blade returned to a green glow and retracted, as if reading my mind. A huge holographic figure emerged, startling us. It was the face of the most wanted outlaw of the Mechaninan Empire, also the hero of mankind. The Salvager, also known as Adam Sage, appeared in view.

* * *

“I see you have found the Salvager’s sword, which I left here decades ago, my friends.” The silence filled the room again as his face was filled with contemplation. “Or, in case you are a mechanian, go to hell with your metal brain!” he exclaimed. Danson cracked up and we began to laugh, as Adam continued his speech in the video recording. “I hope you’ll use it well, by which I mean the sword. It carries the hopes and dreams of mankind. And now, you are its bearer of mentioned hopes and dreams. Farewell, my friend...” The image flickered, and Adam’s figure disappeared from the wall. We stood in silence for a moment and later we trudged back upwards.

* * *

Before dinner we buried our fallen friends. We stood in silence for a minute in memory of their bravery. Then we returned to the Salvager’s fortress. The girls revived the kitchen, with the stoves blazing to life. We contacted our friends and the Hogs, which are guarding the original fortress. Our supposed reinforcement arrived shortly before dinner, and helped fine-tuning the fortress to our needs, mainly stocking up supplies and provisions. The Hogs had also found themselves a base: an abandoned outpost, and now a triangular area around the fortress is under our control.

We assembled in the mess hall and ate the delicious dinner, and my friends gobbled up the food, evidently starving after the toughest battle we encountered so far. After some chatting, we headed back to our rooms. I slept peacefully, for the first time in my life.


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