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Chapter 4 - A Veteran's Neverending War

War is lots of things. Neverending, hard business, the infamous synonym for the underworld, the list goes on. Never, of course, is it anything pleasant.

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"Back so soon? What's the status report?"

"Our unit was forced to retreat, sir. We took heavy causalities, and some were taken in as POWs!"

"...devastating indeed, but understandable considering our enemy."

"I'm not finished, sir. That son of yours got out of our sight, as well! Search squads had to spend a good fifteen minutes just looking for him after the battle!"

"What?!"

"Seriously, he may be a good pilot, but he really doesn't understand protocol at all! He's just lucky he's his son and that we need all the firepower we can get. Anyways, I better report this to the CO as well. You better teach your son to discipline himself, seriously!"

"...almost went missing, hm? I might have an idea."                                                                                                                                                                         

(Jennifer, Oscillo, and Fugo are still inside Wayne's workroom waiting for him to finish repairing the Generer. While Jennifer continues to tell her story of how she got into the Hyper Tech project, Fugo seems to be in a completely off-focus daze.)

Jennifer: ...and that's when I got enlisted on the Hyper Tech project!

Oscillo: Jen, I think he may have fallen asleep or something.

Jennifer: WHAT?!

(Jennifer delivers a hard slap to Fugo's face.)

Fugo: OW! What was that for?!

Jennifer: You know why. Besides, I'm not that boring...am I?

Fugo: Well, sorry anyways. I just blacked out for a moment there...

Jennifer: Blacked-out? That doesn't sound healthy. Well, either way, let's just move on to the important part.

(Cut to a flashback of a stickman in a pitch-black, aerodynamic, and ninja-like suit. He is currently fighting in space against several squadrons of Hundred Empire suits on his own.)

Jennifer: After getting enlisted, it was then did I get to meet with my big brother, Jin. It was really no wonder he got into Genghis' Steel Comets unit before I did. He was already around for a while and his abilities combined with his suit were legendary!

Fugo: How powerful are we talking here?

Jennifer: Lemme put it this way: He once took down three star-ships worth of Hundred Empire grunts on his own. Let me repeat: ON. HIS. OWN.

(After kicking through a squad of Hundred Empire suits and destroying them, Jin stops to allow five other suited soldiers catch up to him. They face towards a Hundred Empire battleship, which every Blue soldier is retreating towards.)

Jennifer: But you know what they say about good things...they can't last forever...

(A giant wave-motion cannon aims at the squad from the battleship and fires. Jin gets in front of three of the suits as a white light envelops all of them. The flashback ends with a fade from the light.)

Jennifer: Only Genghis, Symphonus, and Oscillo made it back alive from the wave-motion cannon attack. Two of the other Steel Comets were confirmed to be dead, but as for Jin...we never found anything that could be identified as him. While it was true that he did dive in front of Genghis and the others, it seems strange that there was absolutely nothing of Jin at all. But honestly, finding nothing is slightly more comforting. Anyways, we should probably get you checked. Cause random black-outs ain't a good thing for soldiers to have!

(Jennifer and Oscillo accompany Fugo to the medical wing, wherein a nurse checks Fugo.)

Nurse: Hm...well, I don't know how to put this...

Fugo: W-what?

Nurse: Fugo is...perfectly fine.

(Silence...)

Oscillo: Nothing wrong physically or mentally? Seriously?

Nurse: Well, he does seem to slightly low attentiveness, but apart from that, he's pretty much normal. Maybe he's a little sleep deprived. I'd recommend some more rest until he gets used to military schedules.

Jennifer: Gotcha, doc.

Nurse: Oh, please. I'm just a nurse...

(The nurse leaves. Fugo faces Jennifer as the three leave as well.)

Jennifer: Yeah, you heard the good nurse. Go on and get some more sleep. Maybe that'll help.

Fugo: And maybe the nightmares will stop...

Oscillo: Huh?

Fugo: N-nothing...

(Fugo heads towards his barrack.)

Oscillo: I just noticed we managed to completely avoid noting the nurse's gender in our speech.

Jennifer: Eh, it's okay. I mean, it's not like they need to know every little thing, right?

Oscillo: "They?" Who are you talking about?

Jennifer: (Giggle) Oh, just nothing!

(Jennifer walks back to Wayne's workroom, contently.)

Oscillo: ...sometimes, I don't get that girl.

(The next day, barely after the crack of dawn, the alarm sounds within the Chariot.)

Alarm: HUNDRED EMPIRE ACTIVITY DETECTED. HOSTILE FORCES HEADED FOR ZYON.

(Fugo groggily gets up.)

Fugo: Ugh...it's hasn't even been a full day yet and they're already attacking again?!

(All personel begin suiting up and rallying in the launching area. As Fugo suits up, he notices that the Evoluzione is lighter and more lithe than before.)

Fugo: That's weird...why's the Evoluzione different? Maybe Wayne's been modifying without me noticing...

(As Fugo lines up, he notices that Genghis is before the troops, but this time he's suited as well. The giant, knight-like dark green suit looks around with its single red mono-light eye.)

Genghis: You may notice right now that I am suited. This of course means I'll be fighting with you this time.

Oscillo: So if you're fighting with us, that must mean-

Genghis: Correct, Oscillo. Our next enemy will be tough. He's known amongst the Hundred Empire as...General Skull.

Oscillo: General Skull...I know that name's supposed to be threatening, but...uh...wait, who was he again?

Genghis: Oscillo, you airhead! General Skull is one of Hundred Empire's strongest soldiers! And for good reason, too.

Bian: That reason being his mental abilities. General Skull's not just a master tactician, but he's also a master of telepathy. Remember, his suit is exactly like the regular Servians of the Blue soldiers we fought, but his is red.

Genghis: We know he'll be attacking Zyon, but where he'll strike is still unknown. I'll be taking our most powerful soldiers to North Zyon. Everyone else, follow Bian to West Zyon. Alright, everyone: move out!

(The Steel Comets launch with Genghis towards North Zyon, while Bian takes a squad of MP-Lancers to West Zyon and a few more suits head for East Zyon. As the Steel Comets land on North Zyon, Fugo notices that the colony block is completely desolate.)

Fugo: Sir, don't mind me asking, but shouldn't this colony be a little more...populated?

Genghis: Don't worry about it, Fugo. We're still in communication with Zyon. They understand the risks of having the colonies be a battleground, so they're doing their part to evacuate all the citizens from the areas involved.

Jennifer: Oh yeah! They said they had plans to evacuate them to East Zyon in case of emergencies, right?

Fugo: Huh? How does everyone know everything but me?

(A couple of lights and laser shots are seen from the distance. The Steel Comets prepare for battle.)

Oscillo: So this is just a stupid question right now, but wouldn't these Hundred Empire guys realize that most of the colony's empty and go for the most populated place?

Genghis: Seems likely, but we're spread out in a way that we'll be able to respond where ever they attack...

(A small gun-like bit zips though the empty buildings of North Zyon. Jennifer notices it and tries to shoot it to no avail.)

Genghis: Jennifer! Hold your fire until the enemy arrives! Collateral damage has to be kept to a minimum.

Jennifer: Oh, sorry, sir.

(The bit disappears. Seconds pass without activity.)

Fugo: Something's not right...what's with the silence?

Genghis: Hm, maybe Bian had more luck finding them...

(The Duantoutai's communicator goes off.)

Oscillo: Speak of the devil.

(Genghis answers the call. Bian's voice is heard along with some fired shots.)

Bian: We should've expected this! They managed to sneak past us and attacked East Zyon! We're lucky a squad went over to guard the citizens! Sir, hurry!

(With this message, the Steel Comets immediately speed off towards Zyon. Jennifer prepares her wireframe weapons, Symphonus prepares her violin, and Genghis equips his Steel Divider. They arrive at East Zyon before a large crowd of colonist citizens evacuating, Servians and MP-Lancers doing battle with each other, and a lone red Servian-like suit standing in the center of the battleground.)

Oscillo: Well there he is, sir. What should we do?

Genghis: Jennifer, provide covering fire for me. Oscillo, Fugo, go support Bian. Symphonus, support everyone else. I'll take on General Skull...

(Oscillo, Fugo, and Symphonus take off towards other parts of the battlefield. Genghis and Jennifer hold their ground as General Skull notices their presence. He merely stares at them.)

Genghis: (Over communicator with Jennifer) You fire a shot, then I'll charge at him. Got it?

Jennifer: Is now a good time to strike, sir?

Genghis: Might as well be!

(Jennifer fires a laser shot at General Skull while Genghis charges at him with the Steel Divider in hand. The shot causes a minor explosion, but as Genghis approaches the clearing dust, he is suddenly stopped but the red suit holding its hand out at him.)

General Skull: General Genghis, I assume? The General from the Steel Comet, as they call you?

Genghis: Yes, it's me. What do you make of it?

General Skull: Hm...it couldn't possibly be you. I've heard the stories about your excellent leadership, your tactile mind, your overwhelming strength. As far as I'm concerned, the real General from the Steel Comet wouldn't use such a basic attack as this.

(General Skull throws Genghis off in the distance. Genghis quickly regains balance and sees several red gun-like bits exit from General Skull's suit.)

Jennifer: Hey, it's those things I saw back at North Zyon!

General Skull: I see you've noticed these...I call them the Skull Fragments, as they were my creation. All I have to do is use my suit's telekinetic powers to control them to do whatever I please. They can be free-form guns, or my eyes for all of the battlefield. Of course, only one of your own soldiers was able to notice these versatile weapons, but I'm sure by now you'd have figured out my strategy in this fight.

Genghis: Of course! You must have used those to survey all of Zyon to find the easiest area to attack! I knew you were a clever general as well, but for a new strategy like this...

General Skull: Exactly. I could've entered this battle all by myself if I wanted to. After all, the Skull Fragments are capable of doing as much work as a unit if used properly. Unfortunately for you...

(Many of the Skull Fragments zip away towards other parts of the battlefield, while some home towards Genghis and Jennifer and begin firing at them constantly. The two are forced to defend and dodge.)

General Skull: I know exactly how to use them.

(Cut to Fugo and Oscillo, who are following Bian while attacking incoming Servians.)

Bian: You know I really appreciate the help, but are you sure Genghis doesn't need you guys more than me?

(Bian effortlessly dodges a shot and immediately shoots down a couple of Servians.)

Fugo: I think Bian's right. Do you really think we need to help him?

(Fugo grabs a Servian, melting its armor, and tosses towards another Servian and destroys both in an explosion.)

Oscillo: Orders are orders, Fugo. Besides, this is Genghis we're talking about. He'll be fine.

(Oscillo blocks some shots with his arm, then extends that arm towards a Servian's head, self-destructing the arm and blowing off the Servian's head. The arm regenerates as it retracts back to Oscillo. Suddenly, a blast hits Oscillo in the back of the head. He turns around only to see a red blur barely escape his vision. Fugo gets hit as well, but just like Oscillo, he misses what hit him. Bian, however, begins to get pelted by the Skull Fragments.)

Fugo: Wh-what are those?!

Bian: I'll tell ya what: they're annoying!

(Bian activates his Strike Lancer's beam saber and slashes at the Skull Fragments, only hitting a couple of them. He's forced to make several evasive maneuvars with Fugo and Oscillo barely tailing behind while also dealing with the bits as well. Cut back to Jennifer and Genghis, who are both still struggling to defend against the Skull Fragments.)

General Skull: Hm...as expected. The Skull Fragments are fragile little things, but sooner or later all of you will be decimated. At this point I might as well call off my own forces. It's only fair, after all.

(General Skull telepathically connects to every Servian in the field, commanding them to retreat.)

Servian: But sir! Don't you need our strength?!

General Skull: This is not your fight anymore, soldier. Now go! Your lives are clearly more valuable than mine.

(Genghis notices General Skull's concentration lose focus as the Skull Fragments fire at a lesser rate. He changes the Steel Divider to the Steel Reaper and charges at General Skull to get a strike, but General Skull immediately notices and telekinetically pushes the Steel Reaper away before physically grabbing Genghis.)

General Skull: Hm...even with such a dishonorable move, I must commend your opportunist nature. But that won't be enough to defeat me!

(Genghis gets telekinetically tossed back and held as the Skull Fragments return to pelt him with shots.)

Genghis: Arrgh!

General Skull: Now if you're really the general you were built up to be, prove yourself! Show me your worst!

(General Skull is suddenly hit with a slice and kick. He loses his hold on Genghis and the Skull Fragments as he turns to see Symphonus. She jets back to a safer distance and begins playing her violin. The effect of the music begins to gradually weaken General Skull.)

General Skull: Grr...music-based weaponry, I see? Stupid...yet so stupid it-AGH!-works! Was this your idea?!

Genghis: Stupid, huh? If stupid wins us this war, then that's what it takes!

(Genghis equips his Steel Reaper and charges at General Skull. Meanwhile, as Fugo pursues a Skull Fragment, he finally manages to capture one and crush it in his hands!)

Fugo: I got one!

Oscillo: Yeah, what happened? It's like these things just forgot what they were supposed to do.

(Oscillo, Fugo, and Bian now have no trouble eliminating the Skull Fragments. Fugo and Oscillo both recieve a signal in their communicators.)

Genghis: (from communicators) Fugo, Oscillo! Report to my position at once! We need to end this battle!

Oscillo: Roger that! Bian, think you can finish these bits yourself?

Bian: Sure! I'll meet with you guys later!

(Fugo and Oscillo leave as Bian destroys all but a few Skull Fragments, which immediately retreat. As Bian prepares to join the Steel Comets, he notices an enemy signal on his Strike Lancer's radar. He immediately turns and fires at the source of the signal, but hits nothing.)

Bian: What the...he was approaching West, but now he's behind me?!

(Bian turns around and fires again, this time hitting something and causing it to explode. Once the dust clears, however, he finds that he only hit an empty Servian suit. A pair of laser knives suddenly pierce through Bian.)

Bian: AAAAAGH!

???: Oh, how I love radar jammers. What could possibly be better than robbing someone of all hope as they die? Make so they least expect it to!

(Meanwhile, Fugo and Oscillo reach Genghis's position, unaware of Bian and his attacker, as they witness General Skull using his last mental strength to use his Skull Fragments as protection against Jennifer's fire and Symphonus's song. He's also attempting to wrestle off Genghis, who's already close to him with the Steel Reaper.)

Oscillo: ...well, uh, are you sure you need us, sir?

General Skull: Enough of this!

(General Skull refocuses his telekinesis powers to throw Genghis off, then uses his remaining Skull Fragments to fire at Symphonus, damaging her suit somewhat and her violin considerably. Symphonus retreats back with her instrument useless and her armor damaged. General Skull uses his Skull Fragments to fire at everyone in sight while also creating a light telekinetic shield around him.)

Genghis: (over communicator with Steel Comets) Now's our chance! Everyone, begin attacking him all at once!

Fugo: R-roger! (over communicator with Oscillo) I'm not sure about this...

Oscillo: (over communicator with Fugo) Don't tell me you already forgot what I told you before...

(Jennifer continues firing pistol shots at General Skull while Oscillo directly attacks the Skull Fragments and Fugo fires high-energy projectiles from the heat of his hands. General Skull's fragments effortlessly dodge the attacks and fire back, leaving them all in a gridlock. Meanwhile, Genghis equips his Steel Comet hammer and  swings with great force at General Skull, letting out a battle cry while also turning his body. General Skull notices the incoming Steel Comet and uses his telekinesis to turn it away the other direction.)

General Skull: Good try, general, but trying to overwhelm and distract me against your own attack is only a fool's strategy, especially against me!

(The Duantoutai's jet thrusters activate, as Genghis had already turned his body and swings the other direction.)

Genghis: Of course it's a fool's strategy...which is why it wasn't my strategy at all!

General Skull: What?!

Genghis: GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

(Genghis begins to spin rapidly while swinging the Steel Comet.On his final spin, Genghis aims straight for General Skull as the Steel Comet builds up incredible speed and force.)

Genghis: General Skull! You have been bested by the General from the Steel Comet! Now feel the true strength of Earth's mightiest defenses! THIS IS THE STEEL COMET CRUSHER!

(Jennifer stops firing and Fugo and Oscillo get out of the way as General Skull makes all attempts to stop the incoming Steel Comet, but his telekinesis combined with the Skull Fragments do nothing as the giant grey blur charges towards his body. As death approaches him rapidly, General Skull telepathically connects to Genghis.)

General Skull: It seems the stories were true...you indeed were a worthy opponent. After all these years forced to pay servitude to the Hundred Empire, I've hoped that someone could take my life on the battlefield. I must thank you, Genghis, not only for doing so but also being a worthy foe to die against. And please, ask your musician if they are from Vwxyon. I know this knowledge will be useless to me now, but to be truthful, her music almost brought me back to my true home...

(The Steel Comet finally collides with General Skull's body, causing him to completely shatter from the force of the collision. Genghis stops and retrieves the Steel Comet and salutes in General Skull's honor.)

Genghis: Goodbye, General. It is truly a shame that the best men must die.

(Loud shots are suddenly heard as Symphonus falls, her violin completely destroyed, her suit incredibly damaged, and her laser bow in hand as the dark cyan suit that attacked Fugo from before approaches her. Jennifer immediately fires at the dark cyan suit, giving Oscillo enough time to get near and attack him.)

Oscillo: You again?! I thought General Skull's forces were called off!

Dark Cyan Suit: The explanation to that's simple, dimwit. I disobeyed orders! Besides, what's the fun in missing out on a few kills?!

(Oscillo and the dark cyan suit clash blows before the dark cyan suit fires a few shots at Symphonus. Oscillo extends one of his legs to block the bullets, but is too distracted to notice the dark cyan suit stab a laser knife into his visor. Oscillo elicits a scream of pain as the laser knife begins to reach further down his head, but then Fugo punches the dark cyan suit off.)

Dark Cyan Suit: Well, how's this for a coincidence? I can tell you're the little kid I barely missed out on killing. Let me guess what you're about to say: "I can't let you kill anymore people!" Ha, I'd be rich if I got a coin for every time I heard that!

(The dark cyan suit fires a shot from his knife-gun, which Fugo dodges with some speed. Fugo then punches the dark cyan suit who casually dodges every hit.)

Fugo: You killed Fugo. I'll never forgive you for that!

Dark Cyan Suit: Huh? "Fugo" who? Honestly, I got through so many lives I just can't keep count of all the names!

Fugo: You...I'LL KILL YOU!

(The Evoluzione's eyes turn red as Fugo begins erratically attacking the dark cyan suit, who gets hit occasionally, but otherwise dodges and counterhits. Finally, Genghis' Steel Reaper gets between the two as Genghis takes a swing at the dark cyan suit, who again dodges but loses a knife-gun as the Steel Reaper slices it in half.)

Dark Cyan Suit: Ah...I see I've overstayed my welcome. I've had my fun anyways...the proof is in the other guy I just killed. Adios!

(The dark cyan suit retreats from Zyon. As it disappears from his sight, Fugo begins to snap back to normal.)

Fugo: Ugh! My head hurts...

Genghis: I thought we had already controlled those anger issues, Fugo. Although I suppose triggers can't be helped...

Jennifer: Sir! We got a bad situation here! Bian, he's...

(Immediately, Genghis and Fugo fly to Jennifer's location. In her arms is Bian, his suit cracked, punctured, and dismembered. His head barely moves to see Genghis.)

Bian: S-sir...I'm sorry my duty...had to end l-like this...

Genghis: No, Bian! You can't give up now! We still have time to bring you to the-

Bian: No...it's too late for me...at least do this for me...I've had one last letter for my family back in my bunk...please...bring it...to...them...

(Bian's head drops, and his body becomes completely motionless...)

Genghis: There's been heavy losses on both sides...bring Bian's body back to the Chariot, we'll give him a proper funeral there.

(Jennifer begins flying back to the Chariot with Bian's body.)

Genghis: Fugo...this is the unfortunate truth of war. Victory may come, but it's just as painful as defeat. Let's go, the enemy is long gone by now.

Fugo: Y-yes sir...

(While Genghis flies back to the Chariot, Fugo approaches Oscillo and Symphonus.)

Fugo: Oscillo, we need to go now.

Oscillo: Oh, yes, uh, just go without me. I need to help Symphonus back.

Fugo: Oh, well do you need help with that? I mean, your visor-

Oscillo: NO! I-I mean, no. It's fine. Just go.

(Fugo hesitantly flies away to the Chariot. On his way, he looks back and briefly sees what appears to be a face of partially flesh and machinery under Oscillo's broken visor.)

Fugo: Oscillo...what's happened to you..?

                                                                                                                                                                        

(The throne room of the Hundred Empire's main planet, Hunder, is filled with dreadful silence. A messenger finally appears before the hallway of guards, which the end leads to the throne of the empire's leader, a Blue-like being in royal clothing.)

Emperor: Clearly, you're here to bring me news. How about we start with a report of our troop's most recent assault on that worthless planet Earth?

Messenger: A-about that, sir...see, not only did we lose the battle, but also we lost General Skull in battle.

(The emperor is angry, but he does his best to hide that anger.)

Emperor: First that Carn abandons his unit to die, then we lose General Skull...don't those fools know how much resources we've wasted on dead men?! At this rate, we'll have to start using him...that reminds me, is our HUMAN project completed?

Messenger: ...the project team says to give them a couple more days to tweak out the bugs.

Emperor: Well, at least that's more favorable to hear. Anything else to report?

Messenger: Yes, well, we just received a package without a sender's address, or even a signature. We don't even know what it is, so...

Emperor: So you want me to decide whether or not we should let the guards bring it in? You know how many enemies I'd have by now, so obviously the answer is n-

???: Perhaps I could persuade you otherwise...

(The throne room's hologram projector receives a signal and activates, projecting the image of Zeit before the emperor.)

Emperor: And who might you be? I've never seen anyone of your kind before, so I can only assume you're from a planet I haven't conquered yet.

Zeit: Close, your highness. I'd explain now, but I, Zeit, have something far more important to discuss: your package. Call it however you like, but just know like many things, it becomes stronger the more it devours. You see, it's something that should do more than secure your victory in this war. In fact, it should do you well in securing your future victories in your universe, and maybe even in universes beyond.

Emperor: "Universes beyond?" What's that supposed to mean?!

Zeit: ...just consider this a gift from an other-worldly being who wishes to see your reign extend beyond your world.

(The hologram shuts down as a guard rushes into the throne room.)

Guard: SIR! There was a monster in that package! It grew in size as it ate its way out of the box and cage it was contained in! I think it's even starting to eat Hunder's shipping port! What should we do?!

(The emperor slowly begins to grin.)

Emperor: Let it eat. Once it becomes big enough, constrain it and train it to do our will. This "monster" will help us defeat that scum from Earth.

                                                                                                                                                                        

(While everyone else on the Chariot is mourning Bian's death, Oscillo helps Symphonus to her bunker before he goes his way, covering the hole in his visor. Before Symphonus goes in, Genghis approaches her with a package in hand.)

Genghis: I normally don't allow outside packages to reach soldiers at this time, but it seems the sender wanted this package urgently delivered to you. I checked, and I can assure you that this will indeed help you greatly.

(Genghis hands Symphonus the package.)

Genghis: Oh, and before I forget, General Skull had requested as he died to know if you were a Vwxyion. I know you've been wanting to know if there was anyone on the Hundred Empire's side who was of your kind, so I suppose now your concerns are valid. For now, we need to honor Bian, and it would hep if you played in his memory.

(Symphonus enters her bunker and opens the package, finding what appears to be a completely upgraded version of her suit. Deeper down are song sheets for her as well. Symphonus immediately removes her damaged suit and adorns the new one, which is almost identical apart from the slightly more aerodynamic design and the mini-speakers embedded in the suit. Symphonus soon joins the funeral to play an elegy for Bian. Meanwhile, Oscillo begins bandaging the exposed parts of his face from his broken visor.)

                                                                                                                                                                      

- End -

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