The Pristine white floor on a long corridor full of sliding doors mirroring each other was disturbed by a sluggishly walking woman in a black & white armor full of dirt, smoke and blood. Behind her can be seen a great silo with a lot of movement, from units running with full battle equipment to a brigade of drones flying over with cargo boxes or plastic junk. A couple of paramedics rushed through the corridor almost tackling the woman that barely could move aside with the destroyed drone that she was pulling from a cable. The woman looks back as the two paramedics run through, her eyes are lost searching for nothing.
An instant became timeless, as she just stands in the middle of the corridor between two doors, but then everything came crashing down, the steel walls started to crack and crush within themselves, the sliding doors moved in as trash compactors, the light on the corners turned a bright red that looked like an incinerator as Aoide yelled for help.
– What… Someone… please help me… – Inconsistent & trembling words come from Aoide’s lips.
– PLEASE! HELP ME! I DON`T WANT TO DIE! I DON WANT TO DIEEE! – Desperation could be heard in her screams as she was crushed by the darkness pressing the corridor against her.
The screams of Darja, the Dactyl Doctor, filled the Medbay at the same rate that the light came back to Aoide`s eyes that were full of tears. Aoide was restrained into bed from her wrists, on the other side of the bed was Ferris, the Dactyl engineer with a broken nose, bleeding profusely. Aoide`s deep and breathing started to calm down as she recognized the place, DAWN – 01 APLEKTON.
– You are all right… calm down… everything its ok we are here. . . – Darja calmly communicated to the confused woman on the bed.
– Dammm, she’s strong! Those enhancers have done their work. . . – Commented Ferris while moving to activate a still Yudbot in order to heal his nose.
– Where… Where am I?! – Urged Aoide to an approval of her veracity in her friend that was finishing to look into the preliminary results on a Datapad connected to the Medbay.
– You are safe… nothing bad has happened – Reassured the female doctor to the now more confused than hysteric woman.
– AND WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!? YOU DID NOT SEE THAT SHE WAS IN SHOCK ON YOUR WAY HERE? YOU ARE LUCKY SHE DIDN´T DEPRIVE HERSLEF ON THE ROAD! – Darja shout to a Myrmidon that was standing still on the middle of the room.
– She was not my responsibility, she is just another member of ALEPH, something bad must have happened when she was awakened… or her body suffered some kind of … – The soldier calmly replied but was instantly cut by an angry Darja.
– She is completely human, maybe you do not know but not every member of ALEPH is in a sleeve! – heatedly replied the Dactyl to the Myrmidon
– I you don´t have nothing better to do then just piss off… – Darja impetuously ordered to the Myrmidon that quickly got out from the medbay.
The room got completely quiet for a minute as some tranquilizers start taking effect on Aoide’s body and the two Dactyls took some air while a worried look could be seen on both. Finally, with a serious face and a hovering Cam behind her, the female Doctor asked Aoide about the past events on what was supported to be just a routine pick up of some supplies of a defense outpost.
– Now… Tell me what happened start from the beginning and just go slowly…First, Why where you there? – Darja asked to Aoide that was still in shock but in a much better shape, one able to handle a conversation.
– I… had just finished my “Talent Sighting” from that day, when while walking to the dining room I heard a Myrmidon Officer talking through her comms about bringing some equipment for the engineers… – Aoide looked around and saw her battered camera on a corner.
– My camera was broken so It sounded easy to go with them, with the argument that I had to made a piece for the media, and find the spare parts that I needed… before Acmon noticed that I had broken the camera in my first mission, before arriving to APLEKTON. The woman lucidly commented while thinking about her immediate past.
– I had managed to keep it a secret by not delivering pieces with… visuals. – She take a deep breath as her eyes lied about the lights starting to turn into the crimson red from before and for an instant.
– The road was full of rain and stones, as usual. But when we arrived something was wrong, there was too much silence and no allied unit could be seen near. That’s when we saw it…
- A couple of unknown units where glaring at us form the distance… Machaon was with us and he quickly order us to move into cover, that those were JSA units and that we should prepare ourselves for a bloody day. – Aódie keep staring to the floor where her armor was left after she was put on the Medbay bed.
- I ran behind the Myrmidon Officer that allowed me to go along, into the extreme right of the outpost. And moments after the central node give us new order… to take back the control of the outpost, whatever the cost… - Aoide stay still for a moment galring to to air of the room.
- Come on… keep talking, I’m here with you, everything it’s alright – Darja prompted her to continue talking as she grabbed her head gently and hopefully before the Automatic Psychological test in VR started, surely leaving her unconscious for a couple of hours, maybe an entire night.
- Machaon knew that we had to make the first strike, that if they were here, they would know that we were coming, so a quick assault to gain control of the place would be the better approach to these unexpected battle. – the female reporter replied back, finally looking into the Doctors face.
The events unfolded as she recalled every detail she could about the event. First, y Machaon command, the myrmidons spread wide along the battlefield flanked by Chandra, that had pushed a little further into the right; and a Torakitai guarding the left flank with his HMG.
Machaon ordered a flying drone to give him some feedback about the enemies present on the site, the drone activated its combat protocol and started taking some images of the battlefield. First it moved to the ALEPH Controlled area, then it managed to take one last photo before being shoot down by a remote with a HMG.
- I heard some Gunfire on the left flank, and order my aerocam to be my eyes, the thing flew high and saw a wounded enemy crawling out of sight of the Torakitai that had managed to fire. After that, my drone almost was hit by a flying piece of remote that was blown up by the rockets of Phoenix…
- Machaon ordered to start advancing to secure the central supplies that where sill on the protected container. They moved slowly but with some smoke cover into a place where Phoenix could still fire against a remote and another forward observer of the enemy without much success. Eudoros and his fireteam advanced as well but in the push, the remote managed to kill a Myrmidon hacker as the complete round of bullets sherd her into pieces…
- Eudoros at last had sight of the remote a one bullet managed to deactivate it, he keeps firing until the thing completely blow up.
- But then the actual nightmare began, as from the nothingness a woman with a sword appeared almost in front of me. She had silver hair… she looked right into my eyes… I could sense my life slowly fading when she just turned and throw some smoke into the unknowing Chandra that in an instant was completely blind. She ran into the darkness, then a large and fine stain of blood hit me completely and also my camera, as the automatic mode prompted to keep following the woman.
- I heard from the comms that phoenix was wounded, but I was till realizing that my life hasn´t been taken away, but that for a moment it was not mine. After I would know that phoenix was shoot from the back by an enemy hiding in the tallest part of the outpost, but that somehow it managed to stay alive and eventually fire back.
- The smoke started to fade away and all I could see was Chandra that was sliced in two parts completely, the sleeves organs were laying on the ground and the floor was painted red as the woman was glaring at me again but know holding her sword that had no trace of blood, but was rather blurry and blue.
Aoide started panicking again as the recall of that fearful moment filled her with helplessness. Her hands started shaking, her sight slowly faded and darkness consumed her with pleasure. The Dactyl Doctor quickly hug her and assured her that she was safe, that she was alive. She was calmed again, but her eyes red as her tears come out again, but forcefully convinced herself that he must continue the telling of her story.
- She was ready to go after me when the Myrmidon officer came out from a corner and fired against her and before my eyes she gracefully moved from the bullets course and looked back to the surprised officer. Eudoros approached to get a clean shot but the female ninja throw herself into close combat with the officer. Eventually Both Eudoros and the female Officer where fighting hand at hand against the unknown woman that was managing her ground and almost killing the two myrmidons.
- Later I would know that one Myrmidon discovered, identified and destroyed a smart missile remote hiding in the back of a structure, and that Machaon, Phoenix and one myrmidon had to unite forces against another devilish ninja that tried to stab Machaon on the back when he was approaching phoenix to heal him.
- The Torakitai managed to din the enemy engineer, that was constantly repairing the enemy remotes and killed her outright, but then he falls down to a burst one of the last enemy units, beside the devilish woman fighting against two Myrmidon officers. The soldier ran straight into the left side objective and managed to acquire some data from the terminal before Machaon shoot him unconscious on the ground. The woman, knowing that she was outnumbered, just like dust vanished leaving all of us with the constant fear of our own shadows.
- The mission was successful, ALEPH won. But I was left with my skin pale and my resolve gone…
- AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW? – An echoing voice came into Aoide’s head as she realized that she no longer was on the Medbay.
She looked around and only saw light, an eternal white that did not allowed to reach any border of space. She was quite confused but a strong impulse allowed her to be calm and answer the voice.
- I’m… going to be better… be stronger - The former reporter answered not knowing why but that it was the only answer she had.
- WHY? – The voice replied back
- Because if I’m weak, if the humans are weak they would not be able the defend themselves… myself – The young woman answered with an unfamiliar resolve.
Aoide`s eyes opened as she found herself naked in a pool of white liquid surrounded by the lights of many stationary pods that reached an infinite ceiling of stone & steel. She looked at her body, it was… perfect. She still recognized herself but knew this wasn’t her. Then a giant machine, that looked like a living armor of woman talked to her.
- Welcome back A.O.I.D.E 01, your cube has been successfully retransferred into your active sleeve. – the soulless voice, that reassemble that of a woman, tell the confused woman.
- Where am I? - Questioned Aoide without emotion.
- Where you need to be, with ALEPH, your original body was fatally wounded and a Dactyl doctor managed to extract your cube without greater trauma. It will take some time for you to translate yourself into this new body, but it was made upon your results on the Talent Sighting program and the Psyche Deconstruction Process – Replied back the Marut as Aoide was fitted in her new battle outfit.
- You will be a new kind of soldier, one needed to ensure the humanity survival n might over the enemies of the 012.
Aoide stand still, her face could be one of a confused being or that of one that has no free will. She noticed that her skin was soft, but below was a cold and unbreakable metal, her eyes could focus in instants to every detail and for once, she was powerful in every aspect she could reason at the moment. She moved out from the facility walking into somewhere she knew she had to be, and that was enough for her.
NOTE: Chandra was replaced by Drakios as a proxy.
Also this is the FINAL CHAPTER of a Tale that is happening at the same time the KURAGE CRISIS. A short story that gives more life into this amazing game.
THANKS CORVUS BELLI