Wild FIRE: Prelude To Destruction (Epilogue – RED)
After the team`s last mission, Alex wakes up in a a very strange yet familiar place. However there`s no time for rest or reflection as he soon finds himself in the clutches of a new enemy… Or are they?
“Hey, are you awake?” a voice called from the darkness.
“What?” a confused voice answered back.
“Can you move?” the first voice asked again patiently.
“I think so,” the second one replied.
“Something’s not right here… Wake up!” the first voice screamed.
Shaking his head groggily, Alex opened his eyes briefly before wincing in pain. Still weakened from the previous battle, his body hurt all over and he could barely move. The world felt as though it had been turned inside-out. His thoughts were a blur.
`What the hell happened?` he thought to himself while surveying his surroundings. Something stopped him dead in his tracks. Alex watched speechlessly as a large flock of birds; disturbed by his sudden movement, took to flight and soared into a surprisingly clear, blue sky before disappearing behind the circle of gigantic trees towering above him.
Hearing the sound of rushing water he tilted his head to find a long and beautiful flowing river a few meters away from him. The smell of clean, non-radiated water filled his nostrils. He had never seen a place so beautiful in his life!
Although he had read about them, he had never actually seen a real forest because the ecological damaged caused by the Great Catastrophe had reportedly destroyed them all. Apparently, that wasn’t the case.
“What is this place? Am I dead or something? Is this a dream?” he wondered aloud, feeling the soft and slightly damp grass beneath his dirt-covered hand. The armor had already vanished from his arms and midsection. Feeling a sharp pain, he gently rubbed the top of his head. Looking at his hand, he saw that it was covered in brown and sticky blood.
“Bleeding… Guess that means I’m still alive. But if that’s the case, then where the hell am I?” he thought aloud, completely baffled by his current predicament. Not that he was complaining. Wherever this place was, it sure looked a lot better than where he had spent most of his life. Closing his eyes, he attempted to recall the events that had led him up to this point and this mysterious place.
He slowly began to remember his battle with Kristofferson, the destruction of Rune City, the ambush at the Shi’aki uplink station and Octagon. Once these things settled in his mind, the rest of his memory seemed to flood back into his head. Finally, he remembered the mission.
“We were at the base and there was this huge explosion… Me and Shannon were the only ones left and…” He started before the girl’s name finally struck home. “Shannon!” he shouted aloud, springing to his feet. It was a mistake that he instantly regretted as his throbbing head sent him straight to his knees.
“Shannon….” he called, shaking the pain from his head and looking around the area for the girl. She was nowhere to be found. A horrible reality began to settle over him. For the first time in his life, he was completely lost and alone.
An unbearable mix of uncertainty, pain, guilt, loss, and loneliness washed over him, almost forcing his mind to crack from the pressure of his situation. The distant sound of approaching aircraft shook him from his trance and sent him scrambling for cover.
Hiding behind a large tree, Alex looked to the sky and waited nervously as a rather large helicopter of some kind flew straight over his position and continued on its way without paying him the least amount of attention.
He had never seen a craft like that before. It didn’t look like any Shi’aki design he had ever seen, that was for sure. Wanting to take another look at it, he focused enough energy to teleport himself to the top of the tree that he was standing beneath. Coming out of his teleport, he almost slipped off of the large branch he was standing on before catching himself and painstakingly climbing farther up.
The tree he was in was slightly taller than the others and the view below him was absolutely stunning. Nothing but trees and tall mountains surrounded him all around. The sun had just begun to set, painting the clouds with slight tints of red and orange as it sank into the horizon. It was breathtaking.
Catching sight of the helicopter that had just flown over him, he continued to follow it with his eyes. The craft appeared to take little to no notice of him whatsoever and seemed to pose no threat to him as it continued to make its way across the sky and towards one of the large mountains directly in front of him.
Alex watched silently as the craft flew a straight crash-course towards the mountain with seemingly no intention of avoiding the rugged, rocky face ahead. He was wondering what exactly the pilot was thinking when the craft suddenly came to a stop and hovered patiently in the air. A few seconds later, a pair of small hidden doors slowly slid open on the side of the mountain. The craft waited momentarily before continuing its way inside of a secret base; hidden perfectly inside the large mountain.
“A hidden base out here? What the hell is going on?” Alex thought to himself. Whatever it was, he didn’t like it. Climbing down from the tree and seating himself on the soft grass, Alex tried to take it all in. Considering the base was only located approximately five miles from his current position, he could assume that he was behind enemy lines and in hostile territory; which meant that there were sure to be rovers and security markers somewhere around the area.
While the thought of turning around and trying to get as far away from the base as possible was the most tempting, the fact that he had no real clue where he was and none of the surrounding landmarks made sense put him in a difficult position.
There had to be some explanation for all of this. However, the only place he could even think about looking for any kind of possible answers was the base he had just seen. He was still badly injured from the previous mission and given his current condition, he didn’t even want to think about engaging in another battle.
But then again, the idea of waiting outside in a completely mysterious place turned out to be far more unsettling than sneaking his way into a Shi’aki installation. At least he would be on more familiar grounds with the second choice.
Even if they weren’t friendly, at least he knew the Shi’aki and he might be able to find out exactly what they were up to. Once he found out what was going on and how to get back to Octagon, he would go and report his findings to the major so that Octagon could find a way to stop them once and for all. Besides, he had more than a little score to settle with them.
Once again, the images of Dutch, Naomi and Shannon played across his mind and tore at his very soul. He had failed them all. He swore that he would not let the death of his friends go unpunished. They would not die in vain.
Anger to fueling his resolve, he slowly and carefully started to make his way towards the Shi’aki base. As far as he knew, as of right now, he was the only thing standing between them and the destruction of mankind. This was one mission he would not fail, no matter what the cost.
It took him three hours to reach the base. It wasn’t because he was moving slowly; it was because he was moving carefully. Although man-made in design, as he had previously suspected there was a lot of security in the area. Sensors and cameras were hidden all over the place. There were also booby traps in certain areas. At one point, he had almost stepped through a tripwire before catching himself. Tracing the wire to its destination, he found that it was attached to a hidden explosive charge. If he had tripped the device, he probably would have been blown to bits.
With booby traps such as the one he had discovered, it was quite obvious that whoever this base belonged to didn’t appreciate uninvited guests. He carefully continued on his way.
As he walked, his strength slowly began to return to him. He was still in very bad condition from the previous battle, but he was moving a lot more easily than he had been before. He still had no clue as to where he was or how he had gotten to such a strange place, but he had a distinct feeling that all of his questions would be answered once he reached that base.
Remembering that the entrance he had seen was located high up on the face of the mountain, he assumed that entrance was mainly used for aerial transports. That part of the mountain was far too steep for land-based transports to navigate. There had to be a lower level entrance to the base somewhere. That was what he was looking for.
Hearing voices, he ducked behind some bushes and listened. These voices were human. This puzzled him even further, but considering the type of hardware he had seen on his way into the base’s outer perimeter, it shouldn’t have.
Peering through the shrubbery, he found that he voices originated from two men dressed in seemingly military-issue uniforms. Each of them had rifles slung over their shoulders and both of them carried a sidearm. They were guards. This was getting more interesting by the minute. A few meters away from them, he noticed a large metal door. That was his ticket into the base.
He sat and observed the two men for a few moments. Although they seemed to be well trained, they didn’t appear to be taking their guard duty too seriously. They were joking with each other and smoking cigarettes as if they didn’t have a care in the world. If this had been Octagon, he would have definitely had their asses. Lax security meant a lot of dead people if the Shi’aki ever decided to stage a late-night-raid. These guys didn’t seem to care in the slightest, which for him was actually a good thing.
He was sure that he would have no difficulty taking them both out. After that, he planned to strip one of them down and use his security pass to access the base. It was the perfect plan and would save him a lot of time and energy trying to find another, less direct route into the place. However, while formulating his plan and studying the two men, he had dropped his own guard.
Hearing a slight noise above him, Alex looked up just in time to see a coil of rope flop down around his neck. Before he could react, the coil tightened into a noose and he was hoisted into the air by his neck. On his way up into the air, he saw a dark-clothed figure drop down right beside him with the other end of the rope in his hand. It was a trap.
“SHIT!” Alex swore, struggling to free the strangling rope from his windpipe. He was choking.
“Well, looks like we’ve got a live one,” one of the two guards he had been watching smiled, turning to the third man with the rope in his hands as he dropped to the ground.
“Yep, I guess they just don’t make spies like they used to,” the other man with the noose smiled while looking up at Alex, still struggling on the other end of it.
“True, but you know, it’s surprising that he even made it in this close. Most of them don’t make it past the booby traps,” a third voice commented from behind the first three men standing out in the open. Glancing behind him, Alex saw seven more military-clothed figures making their way out of the woodwork and towards his position.
“Good thing that the ground surrounding this compound has pressure sensors,; otherwise he might have actually made it here undetected,” a fourth said, stomping the ground beneath him.
At that point, Alex realized that he had probably been detected as soon as he’d set foot into the perimeter. The thought of being stupid enough to walk blindly into their trap made him angry, but that was the least of his concerns at the moment. The noose around his neck continued to tighten. He needed to think of something quick.
“So, what do we do with him?” the second security guard asked, looking at him thoughtfully.
“I say we leave him up there and use him for target practice. Can I borrow your knife?” the first suggested with a sly grin.
“Use your own goddamn knife. Dead spies don’t talk, remember? We need to find out who he’s with and how he found out about this place; not to mention how he got past our outer security grid. Cut him down,” a fifth, rather large and bulky man instructed firmly.
“You’re the boss, but I personally liked the target practice idea,” the soldier with the rope said with a frown. The rope he held was tied securely around his waist and wrapped around his left forearm. Removing a knife from the sheath on his right thigh, he severed the rope.
Branches and leaves battered Alex relentlessly as he came crashing down to the ground and landed with a solid ‘thud’. He lay there dazed for a few moments before slowly removing the rope from around his neck. There was a painful red circle around it from where the rope had burned its way into his skin when the knot tightened.
“Grab him and let’s get him inside for questioning,” the bulky man ordered the two soldiers standing closest to Alex.
“Yes, sir,” they acknowledged.
“All right friend, you’re coming with us,” one man said, removing a pair of shackles from a utility belt around his waist and reaching for him. That was his last mistake. Somewhat recovered and extremely pissed off for the little prank that they had just pulled on him, Alex was determined to make them pay.
Rolling backwards onto his shoulders, he caught the soldier with a stiff rising heel kick to the chin while kipping himself off of the ground with his hands and landing solidly on his feet. The soldier fell to the ground in a heap. The second soldier immediately drew his sidearm and fired a shot at his right knee in hopes of disabling him. However, the second he pulled the trigger, Alex vanished.
Looking skywards, the man was just in time to receive a heavy heel smash to his face as Alex came out of his teleport in a front somersault and extended his left leg catching the startled soldier with a falling axe kick before landing softly on the ground in a crouched position.
“He’s a fuckin` teleporter! Waste him!” One of the other soldiers cried while he and the rest of the security team pulled their sidearms and rifles and began spraying the area around him with bullets.
“Ain’t this a bitch? Who the hell just starts shooting?” Alex thought to himself while side rolling out of the way as a strafe of ammo fire swept by him. “Whoever these guys are they’re not going to take me without a fight!” he declared, rolling to his feet and charging straight towards the group before vanishing in a flash of light.
“Look out!” one of the soldiers screamed as Alex came out of his teleport right between two of his comrades. He was still in midair when he executed his attack. Grabbing the one of the soldiers’ guns with his left hand, he quickly shot both of his legs out into a full split catching the two men squarely in the jaw. They bit the dust, hard. As soon as Alex’s foot touched the ground, he teleported again.
The soldiers glanced frantically about, expecting him to attack from above. Appearing below them, Alex rolled onto his back and twisted his body into a backspin while shooting his legs out to the side and catching the first two men in their kneecap, crushing them before using the momentum of his spin to trip two more. All four men fell to the ground in a heap. Alex vanished.
Sensing something to his left, the bulky soldier instinctively raised his rifle to protect the left side of his face as Alex’s spinning back roundhouse kick smashed completely through it. The soldier didn’t know exactly who this kid was, but judging from the way he had just taken down the rest of his men, he knew that this one was not to be taken lightly.
Pulling his knife with his right hand, he skillfully parried Alex’s right round kick, which was aimed for his face, before swinging the long blade in an arching motion towards Alex’s throat. Alex blocked the blade with his forearm, which the soldier keenly noticed was now covered in a mysterious red armor. That confirmed his suspicions. This kid was definitely one of the RDC. That being the case, the kiddy gloves would have to come off and he would have to finish this quickly.
Aiming a straight snap kick towards Alex’s chin, he watched as the younger man nimbly back-flipped out of the way. That would give him a little distance. Closing his eyes, the soldier concentrated intensely while straining with every muscle in his body. Feeling the pressure building up inside of him, his standard issue ‘muscle suit’ immediately activated to compensate for the physical strain his muscles were enduring. The muscle suits that he and his comrades were wearing were state-of-the art.
While nowhere near as durable, versatile or deadly as the nano-tech armor that the RDC wore, they were without a doubt the next best thing when it came to body armor. When activated, these suits not only increased their wearer’s strength by thirty percent, but it also made them thirty percent faster and injected them with an overdrive chemical agent that gave them an instant adrenaline rush, effectively turning them into berserker-style combat soldiers in less than a second.
To top it all off when the suit was activated, the gloves that came with it also carried an electrical charge capable of killing a grown man in one punch. The soldiers were only allowed to use their muscle suits in the most dangerous of situations. This qualified as one of them.
Alex was shocked. He had no clue how that man had managed to block his previous attack. He had come out of his teleport so fast that there was no way he should have been able to counter it. There was something different about this particular soldier. He had already noticed much earlier that the other soldiers seemed to hold this particular man in high respect, which probably meant that he was their leader. Either way, from what he’s just seen, Alex knew better than to underestimate him.
Landing on his feet, Alex was just in time to see the soldier’s already bulky frame get even bulkier as his muscle mass visually increased by thirty percent. Before he could even move, the soldier sprang into him with blinding speed. Alex didn’t have time to teleport. Even if he did he had already wasted too much energy the first three times. His body was nowhere even close to being recovered from the battle in Area 41. He was tiring quickly.
The big man plowed straight into him with a crushing left knee to the solar plexus, just above the armor covering his abdomen before once again swinging the knife at his throat. Alex managed to block the attack, but he noticed that this time it was much stronger than it had been previously. Using his blocking hand, he quickly caught the soldier with a hard left cross, right uppercut combo to the face, causing him to stagger backwards.
The soldier glared at him with blood dripping from his chin before wiping it off with a rather amused expression. He had never met someone who was fast or skilled enough to counter his speed once his muscle suit was activated. Even so, he could tell that Alex was tiring. Smiling coolly, the man slid into a low knife-fighting stance and squared off against him. Accepting the challenge, Alex slid into a fighting stance of his own.
The two men charged each other at the same time. They collided with undefined speed. The battle between them was as fast as it was fierce. Both of them were exchanging blows at a remarkable speed. The soldier was a very skilled knife fighter, however, no matter how hard he pressed his attack, Alex managed to evade and deflect his blows.
On the flip-side of the coin, while Alex was doing extremely well defensively, none of his hand techniques were connecting either. The soldier managed to block and deflect everything with his knife. They appeared to be equally matched when it came to fighting skills, however, the exhaustion of the previous battle soon started to take its toll on Alex as he started to tire.
The soldier was in no better condition. Knowing that his adrenaline rush would wear off in a few minutes, he knew he had to finish the fight as quickly as possible. His body wouldn’t be able to maintain its present condition for much longer without some crippling and possibly deadly side effects. That being the case, he continued to press his attack while slowly backing the younger man towards a nearby tree.
Missing a block, Alex screamed in pain as the soldier landed a blow with his knife, slashing him across his left shoulder. Seeing an opening, the older man kicked him in the chest and sent him flying backwards into the tree directly behind him. That was exactly where he wanted him. Recovering, Alex prepared to attack again when he suddenly felt a coil of thin wire slip around his neck from behind.
“Not again!” Alex thought to himself, grabbing the wire with his left hand before it could completely tighten around his neck. The wire pulled taught, effectively pinning him to the tree by his neck while the hidden soldier behind it struggled to hold him. This was the second time in one day that he had fallen into the same trap. The wire bit coldly into his neck and fingers.
“Good work, Lewis,” the soldier that he had been fighting complemented the soldier on the other side of the tree who had successfully managed to spring the trap. Now that Alex thought about it, hadn’t there been ten of those guys?
“Stupid!” he chided himself while struggling to free the wire from his neck. The more he struggled, the deeper it made its way into his skin. This was not good.
“You put up quite a fight, kid, I’ve never met someone who could keep up with my muscle armor like that. Too bad you got careless…” The first soldier was starting to lecture before nimbly ducking out of the way of Alex’s fireball as it grazed his left shoulder. The fireball continued on its way and slammed into a large cluster of trees, blowing them into a haze of leaves and splinters. That was too close!
“Sonofabitch!” the older man screamed, charging Alex with his knife as he powered up yet another fireball. Seeing the man’s attack, Alex quickly brought his foot up and kicked the knife out of his attacker’s hand with his left foot before snapping his right foot up and kicking him squarely in the chin.
The attack had very little effect as the soldier, now crazed with rage powered up the electrical charge in his left glove and relentlessly slugged him across the face effectively frying the remaining consciousness from his brain. Alex’s head slouched while the fireball in his right hand faded and his hand fell limply down to his side. He was out cold.
“Did you see that?” the soldier behind the tree exclaimed, looking at the damage Alex’s fireball had caused.
“Saw it and felt it,” the older soldier replied, looking at his burnt left shoulder. If he hadn’t ducked when he did, that blast would have taken his head off. This kid was definitely a mutant of some kind. That in itself raised a lot of questions. Looking Alex over, he noticed that the reddish armor on his arms and stomach had completely vanished.
“Think you killed him,” the other soldier observed, looking at the now unconscious young man.
“No, he’s still alive. Even though he shouldn’t be. There was enough charge in that glove to stop an elephant’s heart,” the older soldier replied while curiously checking both of Alex’s biceps. No markings. There was a strange scar on his left shoulder, but that was of little interest to him. He was looking for metal bands and this kid didn’t have any. That also raised a lot of questions.
“Let him go,” the older soldier instructed. The other man obediently released his hold on the wire around Alex’s neck. He immediately fell flat onto the ground. There would be no surprise attacks this time. The older man stooped down and shackled Alex’s hands behind his back before picking him up and slinging him over his right shoulder.
“I’m going to take this kid to lockdown. The commander’s going to want to see him before we turn him over to the council for trial,” the older man stated, walking towards the base’s entrance with his prisoner in tow. “Call a medical squad out here to attend to the wounded and put this damn fire out,” he instructed the other man, who immediately acknowledged with a ‘Yes sir!’ before scurrying about his wounded teammates.
“Base control, this is COBRA 142 reporting in. Tell the commander that we’ve captured the intruder and are now escorting him to lockdown,” the older man said, tapping a small comm-link on his chest. His left shoulder hurt like hell. He would have to stop by medical after this.
“Roger that, lieutenant, our security team will meet you in the brig; base control out,” a female voice on the other end of the comm-link replied. Reaching the entrance, the older man waited as the metal doors slid open and a group of men dressed in white medical uniforms swept past him followed by the base’s firefighting crew, dressed in red.
They were escorted by a security team dressed in black riot gear with the letters C.D.U.L.O. stenciled across their backs. The older man just watched them as they passed before shaking his head solemnly. They were going to have a hell of a time putting that fire out. Saying nothing, he turned and entered the base with Alex lying helplessly on his shoulders. He was going to have a lot of explaining to do when he finally woke up…
<< Continued in Wild FIRE: Legend of the Ryukage — Screenplay in Progress >>