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Chapter 5 - The Sacrifice

This is the point where things really start getting insane.

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"Son, this is my plan, so listen well. I want you to pose as a spy for our troops and get captured b the enemy."

"Captured? But...why?"

"You're still too young to lose your life in war at this point. We're winning this war anyways, and the planet doesn't seem to be too harsh with prisoners of war. I can convince the commander from there that you're too weak and inexperienced to be part of our troops, so you may no longer need to be here."

"But what about you, father?"

"...as long as you're alive, it doesn't matter. Now go. Ignore everything your superiors may tell you, infiltrate the enemy's base if you have to just to get captured. We'll save you soon enough."                                                                                                                                                                      

(Fugo is immediately awakened the day after fighting General Skull upon the notification that all the Steel Comets are needed at the front dock. There, he meets up with Jennifer, Symphonus, Oscillo, Genghis, and a young-looking light turquoise and green bordered stickgirl with a dark and stoic expression on her face.)

Genghis: I am no doubt aware that you all have questions concerning this girl and why you were all gathered here with her. Let me begin by stating that she is a new recruit.

Jennifer: Wow! A new recruit this late into the war?

Genghis: Well, it shouldn't come as much surprise. Especially since she's Bian's daughter - the last remaining member of her family.

Fugo and Jennifer: WHAT?!

Fugo: B-but why? Sgt. Bian's family wasn't involved in the war at all!

Genghis: Believe me, it's a mystery to the rest of us as well. Wayne's looking into it, though it could take him a few days to finish investigating.

???: Him...

Oscillo: Huh?

???: He killed them all...left me to suffer...that's why I'm here...for revenge.

Genghis: Hey, don't forget that you're also here to serve as a defender of Earth. Don't let your personal desires distract your from your true purpose, soldier! Anyways, her name is Natalie. One of you will have to begin training her before she is allowed on the battlefield. Fugo! You have accumulated enough experience from me and your sorties to train her! I leave her training in your hands.

Oscillo: Ouch, and she's pretty psycho, too. Good luck.

Genghis: Of course, I understand that Fugo alone will not suffice for training Natalie. So, Steel Comets, the rest of us will become involved when the time comes as well. Steel Comets, dismissed!

(Genghis, Jennifer, and Symphonus leave, while Natalie approaches Fugo. As Fugo begins to leave, he notices that Oscillo's face from under his visor's cracked hole is covered in bandages.)

Fugo: W-wait, Oscillo!

Oscillo: What?

Fugo: What happened to your face? Are you oka-

Oscillo: ...you know what? I'll answer that when you can leave my business to myself.

(Oscillo leaves.)

Natalie: Excuse me, sir? My training starts now, doesn't it?

Fugo: Huh? Oh, right. I need to get to the bottom of this. Oscillo, what happened? And why are you so defensive about yourself now?

(A couple of days pass, and Fugo is now in Genghis's office, wishing to discuss Oscillo.)

Genghis: ...and so you've arrived. I can tell this is important by the urgency of your request. Oh, by the way, how's Natalie's training going?

Fugo: She's learning fast. Already even Vince has trouble keeping up with her strategies in that Lancer. The resemblance is uncanny, isn't it?

Genghis: Indeed it is, although we're clearly not here to discuss that. Out with it, what are you really here for?

Fugo: ...it's about Oscillo. It's just that he's been so defensive and isolated ever since his injury back at East Zyon. I need to know why, and what it is about himself that he's so secretive about. I understand if you don't want to disclose it, but I have to know.

Genghis: Oscillo...yes, there is a story behind his cybernetic suit. He's requested all of us as Steel Comets to never reveal it to anyone, but seeing how determined you are to know, I suppose I can tell you. I should warn you, though, Oscillo's story is very tragic. Even Jennifer was brought to tears by it.

Fugo: ...I see. But I can't leave empty-handed now that I've come this far. Please, I can take it.

Genghis: ...very well. It all started when he was known simply as Otto.

(The flashback begins with a white and red-bordered stickboy constantly at hard work.)

Genghis: Otto was the unfortunate son of an extremely poor family. His parents only barely earned enough money to raise him at bare minimum conditions, and although he did his best to help, he could only earn enough to feed himself.

(Cut to Otto at high school, when he meets a stickgirl.)

Genghis: It was not until high school when Otto met the one person who could finally give him happiness in his life: Cassandra.

(Cut to Otto and Cassandra years later, married and with their own child.)

Genghis: It seemed like a perfect life for all of them. Even if Otto was poor and out-of-a-job, he was still happy with Cassandra and his child. Then one day, he was drafted.

(A recruitment officer meets with Otto, who says goodbye to his family as he leaves for the military.)

Genghis: Now, this wasn't part of the war with Hundred Empire. It was another, earlier war against a rogue planet that Earth managed to get involved in. In fact, the war was almost over by the time Otto was drafted. If anything, Otto's involvement in the war would finally earn the family good pay.

(Cut to Otto at the battlefield, where he is effortlessly shooting down enemy troops.)

Genghis: Otto was absolutely phenomenal as a part of the Earth army. Compared to almost every other soldier, he was a force to begin reckoned with. Of course, I did say "was."

(Otto is suddenly shot by an enemy tank. His legless body falls back into his side, where medics proceed to rush him out of the battlefield.)

Genghis: Unfortunately, the medics at the battlefield where only able to cautrize the wounds. Unless Otto was given more serious medical attention, he was going to die. Luckily, the battleground was not too far from a Berzerker Corps. establishment.

Fugo: "Berzerker Corps.?" Why does that name sound familiar?

(Otto is rushed into an operating room in the Berzerker Corps. establishment. There, scientists and doctors begin operating on him, turning Otto into a cyborg.)

Genghis: Well, you just need to know that they've been specializing in both medical practice and technological advancements. Otto was lucky to have been rushed in at such a time. He was the corporation's very first experiment in biotechnological conversion. I believe the project was a test of self-regenerative nano-machines. As he was, cybernetics were the only way that Otto would be saved. By the end of the procedure, he was no longer Otto, but Oscillo.

(Cut to a week later, when Oscillo is returning to his family.)

Genghis: Oscillo thought his lucky streak was continuing when the war ended days after his operation. He received full payment for his services. He could finally return home to his family, confident that the money would ensure the rest of their lives...

(Oscillo encounters the police and some investigators at his home. After demanding to know what's happened, the investigators lead Oscillo inside his home and show him two chalk outlines on the floor. Cut to a time-lapse of Oscillo spending his life in sulking depression.)

Genghis: ...except his family's lives were already taken. It was most likely murder, but even to this day no one knows for sure. Not that it mattered to Oscillo, though. As far as he was concerned, he was alone, with worthless money and an inability to die which mocked his existence. A decade later, the Hundred Empire attacked, and the United Earth Federation formed the Hyper Tech project to counter the attack. Naturally, one of their first draft choices was Oscillo, considering his excellent military skills and his status as a cyborg already. After several failed attempts to draft him, however...

(A knock is heard at Oscillo's door. The door opens to reveal Genghis.)

Genghis: I stepped in to convince him personally.

(Oscillo weakly looks up at past Genghis.)

Past Genghis: Otto, I presume?

Past Oscillo: "Otto?" Who's that?...Go away. I won't accept what you offer me,

Past Genghis: This isn't about offering material items or dreams. I understand the pain you've been going through all these years, but there's no point in remaining motionless about it! You may think that this fight is as pointless as your last, but this time there's no other planets at stake here. This time, it's Earth at stake. We need everyone we can to protect mankind's future. What I'm offering you is a chance to protect that future so that no one else will feel the same pain you did. What I'm offering you is a second chance in your life, Otto...no, Oscillo.

(A pause, then Oscillo finally gets up and approaches Genghis.)

Past Oscillo: ...when do we start?

(End flashback, cut back to Genghis and Fugo.)

Genghis: From there, Oscillo was modified with detachable joints and explosive charges within his limbs. He's spent most of his work in Hyper Tech since saving the lives of troops with his range and invulnerability. Of course, if there was any part of him left that was organic, it would have to be his head. That attack from before must have triggered his memory of his life...does that explain your concerns?

Fugo: Oh...I never thought Oscillo suffered so much...and it was all for nothing...

(The Chariot's alarm goes off.)

Alarm: HUNDRED EMPIRE ACTIVITY DETECTED IN SOUTH ZYON.

Genghis: Another attack? But I thought our scouting squads would have told us about any attacks before...

(A projector activates from Genghis's desk. A scouting soldier begins speaking urgently.)

Soldier: S-sir! We have no idea what this thing is that's attacking us! It's nothing like the other Hundred Empire soldiers we faced before!

Genghis: Calm yourself, soldier! What else is going on?!

Soldier: T-the enemy suit is only accompanied by a single Hundred Empire squad! But this suit, it's destroying all of us singlehanded-

(The tearing of metal is heard simultaneously with the soldier's screams as the projector loses signal.)

Genghis: We better hurry, Fugo! There's no telling what the enemy has in store for us this time!

(Minutes later, the Steel Comets and a few soldier squads are dispatched from the Chariot to South Zyon. The colony block has been evacuated, leaving the only remaining occupants a Hundred Empire Servian squad and the scattered remains of Lancers.)

Jennifer: ...huh? I don't get it, where's this lone, super-scary sui-

(A dark teal suit with a pitch-black dome-like head and razor sharp claws suddenly appears in front of Jennifer, ready to cut her.)

Jennifer: Yipe!

(Jennifer barely jets backward and fires a laser shot at the suit, which only reflects off its armor.)

Fugo: W-what the?!

(The suit then charges at Fugo, who barely catches it and pushes it back.)

Servian: Impressive, isn't it? With this one-man army on our side, you can just say "bye-bye" to your pathetic planet! You've already seen what it's capable of...

Genghis: Just what is that thing?!

Servian: If you really wanna know, general, you just gotta fight it yourself. But I suppose a name couldn't hurt. Just call it Hundred's Ultimate Machine of Armed Neutralization, or HUMAN. Remember the name, cause it's the last thing you'll remember! We'd love to stay and watch you all die, but we've got our orders. HUMAN will do the rest.

(The Servian squad leaves Zyon.)

Soldier: Hey, they're getting awa-

(HUMAN suddenly jets in front of the soldier and slices him in half. Several other soldiers attempt to damage HUMAN, but they too are killed in one strike. Oscillo's arm suddenly wraps around one of HUMAN's.)

Oscillo: Got 'em! Now our chance!

(As Jennifer takes aim at HUMAN, it suddenly grabs Oscillo's arm, unravels it, and tosses it at Jennifer, who barely dodges the arm. In an instant, HUMAN then kicks Jennifer with a high velocity, knocking her to the ground.)

Genghis: Luftblads! Your paralyzer guns should work on him!

Luftblad: On it, sir! We'll keep him sedated to a standstill!

(Three Luftblad suits circle around HUMAN, firing electrical guns at it. While it seems their attack is fully paralyzing HUMAN, it suddenly breaks free, grabs a Luftblad, tosses into the other two, and destroys all three in a single kick.)

Jennifer: Those kicks...they look so familiar...

Genghis: Attention, troops! Keeping you all in the battlefield any longer is nothing short of a death-wish! Unless you're of the Steel Comets, retreat immediately!

(Most of the troops retreat immediately to the Chariot or safer cover. HUMAN and the Steel Comets standoff each other.)

Jennifer: (Over communicator) I've never seen anything like it, sir! What's our plan now?

Genghis: (Over communicator) There has to be a way to pierce through that heavy armor. Jennifer, circle it constantly while firing. Oscillo, see if you can bind it in any way. Fugo, Symphonus, stay close to me. We'll see if any of our physical attacks can do anything. Now!

(The group breaks off, with Jennifer constantly firing while flying around HUMAN, Oscillo waiting for opportunities to strike, and Genghis, Fugo, and Symphonus waiting for the same. Genghis spots an opening and swings at HUMAN with his Steel Divider. However, HUMAN effortlessly catches the axe and kicks Genghis off.)

Fugo: Sir!

Genghis: Don't worry about me! It's right behind you!

(Fugo suddenly turns around to see HUMAN almost claw his face, then grabs his arm, hoping that the extreme heat of his hands will burn through. In response, HUMAN punches and kicks Fugo away. Symphonus soon follows with a stab to HUMAN with her laser bow, which HUMAN quickly evades and retaliates with a swift launching kick to the face.)

Genghis: Back on your feet, Fugo! We'll have to use the Steel Comet! Just keep HUMAN steady for a while!

Fugo: Yes, sir! Easier said than done.

(While Genghis begins to swing the Steel Come to build up speed, Fugo directly goes for HUMAN. HUMAN begins to swipe at Fugo, who blocks the incoming attacks. Jennifer then gets a direct shot at HUMAN's head, causing it to slump over.)

Genghis: Good shot, Jennifer! This fight is ours!

(Genghis swings his Steel Comet towards HUMAN.)

Fugo: Hey, that was easier than I-uh oh.

(Fugo quickly sees why HUMAN really slumped over - a mini-missile arms from HUMAN's back and fires at Fugo, who barely dodges it.)

Fugo: Sir! Incoming!

Genghis: That sly little-

(Genghis is forced to dodge, breaking the velocity and arc of the Steel Comet. The missile hits a building and destroys it with a devastating explosion.)

Fugo: Mini-nukes?! Man, the Hundred Empire really went all out with this guy!

Genghis: Fugo, look out!

(HUMAN simply jets back as Fugo realizes that the Steel Comet is headed towards him. He barely avoids the incoming hammer, only to get kicked to the ground by HUMAN. It then stops and stands over Fugo, with a claw extended and over Fugo's face.)

Oscillo: Hey, get away from him!

(Oscillo extends an arm to grab HUMAN's arm and pulls it away from Fugo. Oscillo then detonates the chage and retreats his arm so that Genghis can land a hit with the Steel Divider. A missile launches as HUMAN retreats, having clearly taken damage.)

Genghis: So it can be done...this cold monster can be defeated!

Oscillo: Well that's good news. At least we're sure it can feel pai-oh no...

Genghis: What? What is-THE NERVE OF IT!

(Both Oscillo and Genghis realize that the missile that HUMAN just launched was headed for Fugo. Oscillo immediately jets toward Fugo in order to get him away from the missile. As the missile is just feet away from Fugo's body, Oscillo swiftly pulls him out of its path.)

Fugo: Whoa, saved my life again!

Oscillo: You can thank me later. We've still got that one-man army to topple!

(Genghis gets into a clash with HUMAN, axe-to-claw, which ends in HUMAN pushing Genghis's Steel Divider away from him and kicking him into Jennifer, who was just in range of HUMAN.)

Jennifer: OW! Sir, if I may request, maybe you can consider losing weight-

Genghis: Is this the time for it, soldier?!

(Jennifer and Genghis stand back up shakily as HUMAN charges at the two. Jennifer begins aiming a sniper shot at HUMAN as Genghis charges head-on with HUMAN to divert its attention while he retrieves his Steel Divider.)

Oscillo: Alright, you go help Genghis get his weapon back, I'll see if I can constrain HUMAN!

Fugo: Got it!

(Fugo and Oscillo head towards Genghis's location. There, Fugo begins searching for the Steel Divider while Oscillo begins searching for an opportunity to grab HUMAN. At some point, Symphonus returns and begins firing energy shots from the gun end of her violin at HUMAN. The shots absorb into HUMAN and stun it as the fight rages on.)

Fugo: Sir, I found it!

(Fugo tosses over the Steel Divider to Genghis, who catches it.)

Genghis: Good work, soldier! Symphonus! Fugo! Oscillo! Let's finish this!

(Symphonus nods, then fires a more concentrated beam at HUMAN, fully stunning it. Fugo and Oscillo punch it upward, allowing Genghis to slice at HUMAN with his axe several times before Jennifer lines up a perfect shot and pierces through HUMAN's armor. A huge explosion followed by a smoke cloud detonates from HUMAN after the shot.)

Genghis: This looks like a success, squad! We've done what should've been the impossible! The Hundred Empire can toss all they want as us from now on, cause even their strongest weapons were too weak to-

(Suddenly, from the smoke, a dark teal arm grabs Genghis by the neck and forcefully tosses him into Symphonus!)

Oscillo: Oh great, it's still not dead?!

(Before HUMAN fully re-emerges from the smoke to attack Genghis and Symphonus, Fugo and Oscillo intercept it and attack, only to have HUMAN punch Fugo off. Oscillo grabs HUMAN by the neck, almost blinded with rage.)

Oscillo: Alright, I've had just about enough of you! You're dying here and now!

(Oscillo prepares a punch to pierce through HUMAN's head-dome, but HUMAN retaliates by swiping at Oscillo's bandages, grabs him by the neck once he recoils in pain, and fires a missile straight into Oscillo's visor, directly damaging Oscillo's face and destroying his visor. Once Fugo recovers, all he sees from Oscillo's floating body is smoke coming of out his visor and his bandages floating away.)

Fugo: OSCILLO! NO!

(Fugo suddenly refocuses on HUMAN, who kicks Symphonus and Genghis from behind, keeping them on its foot, and then catching Jennifer in its path as it kicks through the ground. Once it stops near the edge of Zyon, it leaves the three, almost unconscious Steel Comets in the crater it made and arms another missile. Fugo punches it from the front and the two float into the limits of space.)

Fugo: I don't care if I'll die trying to fight you now! If this saves my friends the time to retreat, then it won't matter what happens!

(Fugo attempts another hit, but HUMAN spins around the punch and kicks Fugo in the side and begins widly swiping and kicking at Fugo. It finally ends its mad combo by stabbing Fugo in the chest with its claws and tossing him into a building at the edge of South Zyon. HUMAN then aims the missile it armed earlier.)

Fugo: So...this is it, huh? Died before I could train that rookie...died before anyone could get away to safety...died before I could even figure out who I really am...was I just destined to die?...Wait, what's that?

(A wire begins twirling around HUMAN's body, snagging it. Three more wires attached from mechanical limbs also wrap around HUMAN, effectively binding its body.)

Fugo: No...it can't be!

(Fugo looks farther to see Oscillo's head and torso, isolated from having used the rest of his limbs as bindings, charging towards HUMAN. As he gets closer, Fugo also begins to see that Oscillo's face, while heavily damaged, is also being repaired rapidly to resemble a face made entirely of machinery.)

Oscillo: ...everyone, I'm sorry, but this has to be the way things end. Jen and Symphonus, you've been good friends to me. Genghis, I thank you for giving me the second chance in my life. And Fugo, you made me realize the one purpose I should've had all my life...protecting people...

(Cut to a flashback of Oscillo meeting with Wayne after boarding the Chariot.)

Oscillo: Wayne, you're a mechanic, right? I need you to do something for me.

Wayne: Sure, what is it?

Oscillo: ...I need you to plant explosive charges in my torso and head.

Wayne: ...you realize that you already have charges in your joints, right? Why would you need charges in your most vital regions? Are you trying to get yourself killed?!

Oscillo: Just do it. You'll never know when the time comes. And whatever you do, after you stick them in, don't tell anyone about this. Not even Genghis.

Wayne: ...acknowledged. It's your call.

(End flashback.)

Oscillo: ...and that time is now. It's better that I die taking this thing with me than all of you having to sacrifice yourselves...I've already lost enough people as it is.

(Oscillo begins thinking back to Cassandra and his child as his head and torso approach HUMAN at a quickening rate. Just before he collides with HUMAN's missile, he looks back up towards Fugo, revealing his face and a smile fully restored in mechanical form.)

Oscillo: ...farewell.

Fugo: OSCILLO!

(Oscillo finally hits HUMAN's missile while detonating all the joints in his body. The resulting explosion is so massive that the edge of South Zyon is nearly touched by it. When the explosion clears, all that is left remaining is a single damaged left arm from HUMAN. Fugo is too distraught by Oscillo's death to notice the black blur retreating from afar.)

(Several minutes pass, and all the Steel Comets recover as the rest of the Hyper Tech squads search the area for damage and any remnants of Oscillo.)

Soldier: Well, sir, we can't find anything. Nothing's left of Oscillo, and the only piece of HUMAN left is this arm. (Holds up HUMAN's disabled left arm) Looks like whatever Oscillo did, it did the job.

Genghis: Regrettably. We're done here, soldiers. Return to the Chariot.

(Most of the soldiers return to the Chariot. Fugo, however, looks through the rubble and finds Oscillo's bandages, which have been torn and frayed, but still in one lone strip. As Fugo picks it up, Genghis approaches him.)

Genghis: Fugo, I know this is tough for you, too. Oscillo was a tragic, yet great man. I would mourn for him if I had the time. However, in war, there is never time for anything else. Remember that, Fugo. Emotions may be strong in war, but you'll ultimately have to leave them behind. Duty waits for no one.

(Genghis heads towards the Chariot. As he flies away, Fugo clenches the bandages in his hand.)

Fugo: Every time...every single time someone helps me, they die! Was I made just to get people killed?! What am I but just a rookie that everyone keeps dying for?! I've had enough! I can't let this happen anymore! If anyone's the worthless one who deserves to be sacrificed, it's me. I'll protect everyone here even if it kills me...

(With this resolve, Fugo flies back to the Chariot.)

                                                                                                                                                                        

- End -

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