With another loud, metallic stomp, accompanied by the electric whir of servos, the C.A.R.C.A.S. took a third step. The slow, beast-like machine continued its painfully slow gait, as if it were merely wandering. Its forced occupant shuddered, as much as the cramped space would allow. This would be their final walk, but they were not permitted to do it with their own two legs. Carrying, Arming, Restraining, Computer Actuated Suit.
He had memorized the name of the four-legged, boxy machine. This one was not used for combat purpose, instead correctional. The guards, who were mostly android's, had named it Mr. Fridge. The guards only were sentient due to the Collector’s influence. The occupant could not see out of the C.A.R.C.A.S., yet he knew he would see only the astounding, scientific, sterile white of the hall. Another shuddering step, then another.
The occupant knew he was imprisoned for multiple reasons. One, for starting the Alliant-Dolphin War on Tectum. Secondly, he had angered the Collector’s personal guard, the Paladin Squad. And third, he had been born, a dolphin, human hybrid of genetic tweaking and experiment, making him an abomination. Having done all of these things, Bluebles had yet to master the primary language of the planet, English, spoken by most beings, (including the numerous alien races,) but instead spoke Dolphin, and limited Spanish. Bluebles knew that his time imprisoned was soon to be over, for his agents on the outside had messaged him the previous night. (They had set up a large, pink neon sign which read the time and method of his escape, outside of his window.) He also knew that the explosion would release a handful of the other inmates, which were comprised of the Collector’s enemies and curios. This, would add to the hysteria, slowing the response, hopefully.
The bomb was, as Bluebles had been told, in the guard bathroom (for the human/biological ones), in the “third stall”. The “Death Chamber”, shared a wall with the biological guard restroom, and the toiletries depot. The Collector, being a nearly omnipotent AI, was typically thorough in design, but, she was not perfect. Bluebles knew, with heightened intellect, the Collector had not foreseen his escape. Upon his escape, he and his rebel comrades would rekindle the spark of war. He stifled a chuckle, which the guards could have heard. They knew not yet, but their demise was certain. As the C.A.R.C.A.S. turned painfully slowly to the left, a deafening blast forced it on its side. Ringing assaulted his ears, the light of the hallway, pouring in, blinding him, through a gaping hole in the robotic body.
Having legs, Bluebles rose, he grasped the wall for support, ears still ringing. He swiveled his head to the right, to find the wall with a massive hole, letting the cold, black night air rush into the controlled climate. He flexed his fingers and turned back, behind himself, turning his sore legs. He faced an android, and in the rush of adrenaline, he clutched its head, and separated it from the body, with a single pull. The other guards, seemingly incapacitated previously, were of no concern.
Sirens blared, and emergency lights flashed, all becoming apparent to him, as his senses returned fully. His liberators were certain to have come. So Bluebles set off down the extension of the hall, to the stairwell, vaulting down the two flights with urgency. At the bottom, Bluebles decided to gaze, briefly out of a window. To his dismay, his saw only his doom. Five of the Collector’s Stingrays, each with four outlets, hovering around the building, with the numerous cannons aimed. One of them certainly held the Paladin Squad, who were seemingly always carrying out the Collector’s bidding. Bluebles announced to himself that he would not allow himself to be returned to captivity, swearing he would, if he had to, be shot and killed. He continued down the building, using the stairs, knowing the elevators would have been shut down. So, on pink, mutant legs, he ran, his webbed feet becoming more and more of an annoyance.
Whilst going down, Bluebles stumbled across another dreadful sight: black ooze. It dripped down, from the top of the stairwell, to the stairs below him. Drip. Drip. Slowly, it dripped, for what seemed an eternity. Bluebles stood, staring, paralyzed with fear, and knowing of what he found. The ooze had gone by many names, to Bluebles, it was just a demon, a boogeyman, a nightmare incarnate. The Collector feared its science, its abilities. It formed itself into a body, it’s normal form. It would appear as a hooded person, cloaked entirely in black. In terrifying contrast, it’s eyes, perfect circles, of pure white, without pupils. But most horrible was the maw, the abhorrent mouth, which too, was astoundingly white, filled with sharp, triangular teeth, forever in a demented smile.
“I don’t see you often.”, It stated, nonchalantly, with a startlingly human voice.
“I’d avoid the windows, if I were you.”
As if on cue, a bullet pierced the window to Bluebles´ left. The windows, had been constructed of a strong, bullet-proof polymer. The bullet, most likely fired by one of the eight members of the Collector’s guard, had indeed been fired by their most skilled marksman, the bizarrely named “Cloppy Feet”. The black ooze liquified itself, and promptly began to pour down the next flight of stairs. Bluebles feared Cloppy Feet most, as he had the most severe hatred of dolphins, a deadly aim, an absurdly wide arsenal, and he functioned best under directions. It was now a game of cat and mouse, predator and prey. One foolish decision was all it would take for Bluebles to be removed from the living. For his life to be extinguished.
Bluebles’ hunter, also result of genetic tweaking, felt no kinship, nor empathy for him. He appeared as an angel of death, with his angelic wings giving him flight. His right arm had been lost to a conflict Bluebles knew not of, but in its place, a cybernetic replacement. Between his pale wings, the holsters for his larger weapons, rested on the ridge of his back. Two pistols, and two accompanying daggers, one on either shoulder and outer thigh. Each was different in origin and look, than the other, curios from other adventures. His white armour only added to the angelic look, white pauldrons, gauntlets, greaves, and chestplate. The helm, too, was pale white, curved in the back, upward. Two slits for vision. He would not personally enter the building, for he was best at a distance. Instead, he must have been on the roof of one of the taller, neighboring towers.
Bluebles knew this all, as his hunter was the one to originally apprehend him. Bluebles realized his rebel allies, must have been fighting their up, the structure, for he heard numerous gunshots. Each one, faint, but certainly there. They would have to deal with the Collector’s guards, and personal forces. As the gunfight continued, Bluebles sprinted further down the numerous flights of stairs. He continued to avoid the windows, for they would have been his death. Bluebles stopped, floor 11. He saw to his left, that there was an exit to a flight deck, where there could be a craft for his escape. Bluebles began in that direction, then decided not to risk it, and began going down the stairs once more. He saw a rebel soldier standing by a window, waiting. With a loud bang, the soldier hit the floor, blood pooling around his body. It was clear, the soldier had just perished, within a brief moment, due to Bluebles’ hunter. There was a single hole on the back of the deceased soldier’s helmet, proving that Bluebles’ deduction, was indeed, the answer. He swiveled to take the chance he denounced previously. To search for a remaining craft seemed the only option that could end without death.
Bluebles obliterated the doors console, forcing it to open. The cold wind burst into the hall. Bluebles paused before exiting, scanned the platform, from left, to right. Beyond the edge of the platform was the skyline of the city, New Alexandria. The tops of buildings, windows, and street lights, all had lit up the city. The noise, was muted, by the gusts of wind, each gale, numbing Bluebles’ face. He faintly heard the city’s emergency fortifications, sliding upwards to section off streets, and buildings. This, was the expected reaction to the release of the black ooze, but it would only slow its spread. It wouldn’t belong until it formed itself into an aerosol. Bluebles saw what he had been searching for: a Stingray, unoccupied, in perfect condition, and, the cargo bays were open. He sprinted towards it. Five yards. Four yards. When he boarded it, he stopped, to admire the craft.
The Stingrays were VTOLs, being able to ascend and descend vertically, at a moment’s notice. This one, lacked the turrets, and cannons of a normal one, along with the blue color. Instead, this one, being for transporting prisoners, it was equipped with a holding cell, and a black and white skin. The “vanilla” Stingrays would hold a single APC, 16 troops, and would require two pilots, and a single gunner. The craft got its name from the single, 15mm cannon between the back two outlets.
Bluebles had feared his hunter would have somehow attempted to sabotage his escape, but it was not apparent that he had. Bluebles walked, a cautious,and slow gait to the cockpit. When he reached it, he found two holes in the canopy, both, pointed down, at the console. The flight stick had been destroyed, along with numerous meters and devices. In frustration, Bluebles smashed what remained of the console, with a primal howl. Anger coursing through his blood, Bluebles stalked out of the useless vehicle. Exiting the opened cargo bay, he caught a glimpse of movement. It was a group of humans, five of them, all clad in black combat armor. Rebels. Friendly forces.
“Hello sir.”, one of them said. (Bluebles was unclear which one did speak, for they all covered their faces.)
One of them pointed an orange pistol into the air. A flare gun. He (or she) fired, casting a blinding red flash upwards, hissing, radiating a blinding light. Shortly after, a friendly Stingray curved towards them, going downwards in half a spiral. The side doors glided open, to reveal a group of expecting rebels. Bluebles boarded the craft, with a single step, he was, once more, gifted escape.
After the group had boarded the craft, the pilot veered the craft towards the sunrise. East. The sun peeked over the horizon, not yet removing the night. With a quiet “zip”, something pierced the cockpit, simultaneously, killing both pilots, piercing both of their heads. With astounding speed, the Stingray began to enter a death spiral, without the pilots to prevent this. There was a brief moment of horrified silence, between the passengers who were not dead.
“Brace yourselves!”, someone shouted.
For the events leading up to this had been equally terrible, Bluebles should have expected to be once more, to be marooned on the building he had thought, he had escaped. With a cacophonous crash, the Stingray had returned to the building it had just left, forcefully. With a furious screech, Bluebles walked away from the wreckage, knowing that all the other former occupants of the now, ruined craft, were dead or soon to be. He could care less about them, they had only prolonged his inevitable doom. It was his hunter who had caused all of this, the torment which would seemingly put Bluebles so tantalizingly close to escape, then force him back into pain. With his left leg injured, Bluebles limped away, stopping only to pull a shard of metal out of his right hand. He cast the bloodied shrapnel away, knowing his enemies would pay, all of them.
His hunter, however was prowling the building, attempting to stalk his (unbeknownst to him) wounded prey. Cloppy Feet pulled the bolt back on his sniper, flinging the spent shell casing to the floor. He had managed to eliminate two means of escape, and so his prey would not escape. He inserted another magazine into his rifle, regretting not taking a C.Q.B. weapon with him. He knew that rebels were crawling over the entire building, and being stuck with pistols, a gauss rifle, and his sniper, was not going to make eliminating hostiles easy. He also regretted not choosing anyone to go with him on this operation. He now wanted someone to talk to, to tell jokes to. He felt immense pride in his work so far today, for he had made multiple kills today. He knew that after this job, he would receive a high pay, for his work. He began down the nearest flight of stairs, knowing the Stingray he caused to crash, had hit the building at a lower level. Warily, he slowly, cautiously, checked the floor, ensuring the black ooze, Entity-309, was not lurking there.
Cloppy Feet knew that a great amount of things had been stored here, in the building, by the Collector. There was countless creatures, objects, files. He knew the Collector had numerous secrets, that even he did not know. It was likely that building extended underground. He, and everyone else knew that the building held many of the villains that he himself had fought. Why the rebels would help the dolphin abomination, and not the other, more fearsome inhabitants of the building, Cloppy Feet knew not.
Being a mercenary had once been an attractive prospect for Cloppy Feet, and his friends, but now, it seemed more exciting, more interesting than he had ever imagined. It payed well, and he was able to meet people, and be with his friends more often. As well, he was able to express his true hatred for dolphins. Yet, he had found, and made numerous enemies. Hunting the abomination could only end one way, with it dead. Those were his orders, and following orders was one of his strongest points.
Bluebles stopped when he heard a clanging in the vents, either caused by the Gorgon, or the black ooze. He continued walking, knowing, neither would attack him, unless provoked. His blood was boiling, for in a short period of time, the only two plausible means of escape, had been destroyed, fate abandoning him on the building. With a colossal shudder, something hit the building. Most likely another rebel craft.
Cloppy Feet swapped his sniper for his gauss rifle.
“Thank you Ampere.”, he mused, inserting the magnetic round into the chamber, then charging the solenoids.
The yellow light signifying the charge lit up the dark hall. He walked, languidly down the hall, turning to check each doorway. The twelve lights, two for each solenoid, all pointing horizontally. He deducted that now, his prey would be panicking, making foolish decisions, without calculating. With a brief moment uncertainty, he placed an thermite charge on the floor, which would burn through the concrete. He took several steps back, for thermite was often unpredictable. He activated the charge remotely, causing it to erupt into a bright, white hot burn, red sparks fizzling around it. When it had burned through that floor, it continued through to the lower. Where it ended, Cloppy Feet did not care. He took five steps, and fell into the hole, falling to the next floor. He would continue the hunt.
Bluebles limped, in a hurry downwards, he would have to be quick to escape the building’s lock down. He heard countless Allied soldiers evacuating, heading to the ground floor. They feared the black ooze, which, could be used to his advantage. After the evacuation, the Collector would most likely send in the Flame-troopers, then the Bio-Division. Both to isolate the ooze, then to contain it.
“Hello sir.”, a flame-trooper called to Cloppy Feet.
There was two of them, both wearing flame-retardant gear, bearing tanks of flammable liquids, and flamethrowers. They stopped in front of him.
“We here to see you out.”
“What?”, Cloppy replied.
“Your objective is cancelled.”
“I think not. Listen, you guys go, say you couldn’t find me. I’m doing my job.”
“Collector’s orders, sir.”
“Listen, I can handle the Entity. I’ve done it before.”
“Listen, there’s a Stingray on the roof. They’re waiting for you.”, stated the primary flame-trooper.
Cloppy Feet turned around, and continued downward. The two flame-troopers did not attempt to stop him, knowing that any effort to do so, would prove fruitless.
Cloppy Feet stopped on the lower floor, surprised to see his target, the pink mass, limping. Bluebles stopped, knowing his doom was upon him.
“Turn around ugly.” Cloppy Feet mocked.
He lifted his gauss rifle, putting the scope to his eye. When Bluebles turned, he saw his hunter, who had finally caught up with him, but this time, not at a distance. They faced each other for what seemed an eternity.
Bluebles knew this would be an encounter he would not survive. This would be the end. He would be shot, and his corpse would be absorbed by the black ooze, which was beginning to seep from the vents, like a vulture circling a wounded animal. That was the only possible ending.
“It’s kill or be killed, pinky. And I know I’ll be the one to live,”stated his hunter.
The ooze knew as well, it knew how this moment would end. It would consume another being, soon.