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169 Pages

Class: Story
Status: Complete
Author: Hezekiah
Availability: Tales from the Aftermath can also be found here.

SettingEdit

"Welcome to the Aftermath Diner, located in orbit around Nimbus Station! Please be seated!" a waiter says as you and I enter the diner.

We sit at the bar and look around the diner. Despite its name, the Aftermath is new and pristine. It has flashy chrome and all shades of Nexus Blue, but the Nexus Seal is nowhere to be found.

"Here's a menu," the waiter says.

You place your order. I just get an orange soda. As you finally get your food, a man sits down next to you. He's middle-aged but tough. He wears a worn out set of Sentinel Vinland Marauder armor. His axe and shield seem to still be in good condition.

He turns to you, and you see his red beard. "I'm McGraw."

You politely offer your name and turn to your food.

"You don't want to hear my story? All of us survivors have one."

You politely decline. I smirk, knowing that he'll go ahead anyway.

"No, I insist. You remember the day the Nexus fell? Well, I was on patrol in Gnarled Forest for Sentinel..."

McGrawEdit

January 30, 2012. 700 hours. East Jungle, Gnarled Forest, LEGO Universe.

McGraw sprinted through the dense undergrowth of the jungle. Bugs buzzed everywhere, and the swampy air made even the high-tech Vinland Marauder's respirators struggle. He glanced around. That ape was right behind him! He rolled to the side to dodge a boulder and threw a tomahawk into the infected creature's shoulder. The ape bellowed in pain, shaking the thick foliage. It lashed a fist out, neatly knocking McGraw into a tree. He tossed another pair of tomahawks at its bad shoulder and charged, swinging his battle axe menacingly. He cut through the ape's thick skin-shell, and it gushed out Maelstrom goo. He followed up with a pair of strikes to the ape's skull, smashing it.

McGraw's communicator flared up. "Mac! Get back to Brig Rock! There's an outbreak of Maelstrom Admirals."

McGraw walked out of the trees and took the fastest route he knew to Brig Rock. The stream he followed was all but dried up, but the old riverbed showed the way.

Arriving, he ran to the small turret battery Sentinel had put up. It was a wreck. Admirals stood everywhere, easily smashing Sentinel Knights and Paladins.

McGraw activated his communicator. "Delta base, this is Mac. We need air support at Brig Rock."

"No can do, Mac. Our beachhead is nearly overrun!"

"What about our orbitals?"

"They're fighting space Stromlings! Gnarled Forest is toast!"

McGraw shut off his communicator and ran into the fray. He took down many admirals, but his efforts made no difference. For every one cut down, ten took its place.

"Men! Follow me!" he radioed, sprinting for the jungle. "There's a rocket left by Paradox!"

None followed, for none lived. McGraw ran up the gangway into the rocket and strapped himself in, blasting off for Nimbus Station.

Goodrich Edgar VinsonEdit

"… After I'd gotten away, I found out that the Tower had fallen and that only a few places were somewhat safe, one of them being the Imagination Space Station. The ISS took care of my wounds and armor. After I got a clean bill of health, I helped reconquer and rebuild Nimbus Station. A year later, here I am, talking to you."

You smile at him. I say nothing.

"'I'll be right back," McGraw says. He stands up and heads away, bumping into an Assembly Engineer. "Mind where you go," he growls. He looks up at the Engineer's face and says, "If it isn't Goodrich Edgar Vinson! I haven't seen you since East Side!"


Vinson grins at McGraw. "What are the odds, friend? Let me buy you a drink," he says in a slight English accent.

"Sure thing," McGraw says. "Hey, why don't you tell my friends over there," he begins, pointing at us, "What Avant Gardens was like on The Day?"

"It would be my pleasure," Vinson says, sitting down next to McGraw. He orders a mug of root beer. "You are?" he asks you. You quickly give him your name.

Vinson smiles. "And you?" he asks me.

"I'm Galebil," I reply.

"Indeed, your name reminds me of that of a friend of mine… But you wanted to hear about Avant Gardens City, capital of Avant Gardens. Well, we began that day with our regular security patrols, making sure everything worked…"

January 30, 2012. 500 Hours. AGC, Avant Gardens, LEGO Universe.

Vinson hated the dawn shift more than anything. He was still tired, but he had to service the various defenses of AGC. The dawn shift was given by commanders to those they least liked. Vinson wondered who he had annoyed.

Vinson had just finished fixing a leaking radiator when the alarms sounded. He snapped up his Serratorizers and ran to the battlements.

A huge army of Stromlings flooded the plains around the city. The sea of purple stretched on for miles. Vinson snatched up his communicator. "AGC command, this is Vinson. You can forget defense. Order an EVAC now!"

"We already have, Vinson. Plant a turret and get to your fighter!"

Vinson snapped a turret together and ran for the hangars of AGC. Of course, this was easier said than done. He ran down the wall and down a street just as the bombardment began. The shells rained down on the energy shields, causing a purple splash. The shields flickered. Vinson kept running, cursing himself for not getting his jeep fixed sooner. The shields shut down, and the shells rained down to the streets. Vinson heard more than saw Venture battle cycles and Sentinel APCs speeding to any landing sites. Paradox had sent in three Space Marauder Cruisers from orbit to blast the enemy army, but there were too many Stromlings for any attack to make much of a difference.

Vinson finally reached the hangars and took off in his Assembly Vatonage fighter-bomber. His engines shrieked as he shot toward the enemy cannons. Heavy flak was everywhere, but Vinson nimbly evaded the blasts. He launched his paired I-bombs at the biggest cannon and strafed the others.

The cannon exploded violently. The resulting shock wave shut down Vinson's shields. His starboard engine sputtered and died. Vinson opened up the throttle fully and shrieked up to a Space Marauder Cruiser.

As he flew, twin Maelstrom aircraft flew up behind him and immediately opened fire, ripping holes in his wings and fins. Vinson's craft began leaking fuel. If the fuel reached the hot exhaust, he was dead.

Vinson did the only thing he could do. He pulled the eject lever, launching out. He fired up his seat's jetpack and soared to the cruisers as his craft exploded behind him.

"… I am lucky to be alive," Vinson ends. "Many of my friends fell on the Day."

Admiral WinstonEdit

A man in a Venture naval uniform sits down next to Vinson. "I couldn't help but overhear. I'm Admiral Winston, commander of what's left of Venture's Pet Cove Fleet. Our ships are holed up inside a spacecraft for now."

We give our names, as do McGraw and Vinson. The admiral smiles at you. "That's a fine name you have there."

Vinson looks at Admiral Winston. "What is your tale, Admiral?"

The admiral takes a deep breath. "January 30th was the worst day of my life. My fleet was at sea, searching for the Maelstrom submarines we had spotted the 28th. The only ships left at Pet Cove itself were the VLS Venture's Honor, a destroyer; VLS Pride of Neptune, a heavy anti-sub ship; VLS Stormier, a missile frigate; VLS Resolute, an aircraft carrier; SWS Eagle, a Sentinel Battleship; and PDX Firewall, a Paradox battle submarine. We were attacked at about 300 Hours…"

January 30, 2012. 300 Hours. VLS Resolute, Pet Cove, LEGO Universe.

Admiral Winston could not sleep. He had not yet heard back from his fleet. He was responsible for them, and, like any good commander, could not stop thinking of them.

Winston stopped pacing and grabbed his jacket as he headed to the Resolute's deck. He walked on the deck and looked up at the stars. There were so many. He breathed the sea air and, relaxed, walked toward the command tower entry.

Winston glanced back to sea and saw a ripple in the water. It traveled against the current and straight for his ship. Winston grabbed his radio and barked, "Red alert! We enemy subs spotted!"

The cruiser lit up in a flurry of activity as Winston ran to the command bridge. "Admiral, sir!" the captain said. "We have contacts for a whole fleet! Awaiting orders."

A fleet? Winston froze. "Launch all fighters, and get up the searchlights! I want every ship sunk." Winston ran to the console radio. "Attention all ships: we are under attack. This is not a drill! I repeat! This is not a drill!"

Winston watched as his crews woke up. "VLS Venture's Honor! I want any and every enemy frigate sunk before they can get range on the SWS Eagle! VLS Pride of Neptune! Sink every sub you have contact with except PDX Firewall! PDX Firewall! Sink the enemy battleships! SWS Eagle! Target enemy cruisers! VLS Stormier! Support the Eagle!"

Winston watched his radar. To his horror, the fleet was picking up more and more enemy contacts. He silently cursed and ordered, "Send a distress call! Venture Pet Cove Fleet needs heavy backup!"

"No reply, Admiral!" the radio officer said.

Winston paled. "Full retreat!"

"To where, sir?" the helmsman asked. "We have no other ports."

A rocket struck the tower. Winston and the VLS Resolute's command crew staggered from the blow.

"Admiral! PDX Firewall is destroyed!"

"No reply from the Stormier, sir."

"Admiral, we're losing fighters!"

"Prepare the space transports," Winston said. "I want everyone out."

"Sir, that's not an option. Their air cover is too strong."

"VLS Venture's Honor is rushing the enemy! The SWS Eagle and VLS Pride of Neptune stand beside us, but they're taking heavy fire. Admiral, orders?"

The radio flared up. "This is VLS Ironsides, heavy space transport. What is your status, Venture Pet Cove Fleet?"

"VLS Ironsides, this is Admiral Winston. Can you lift out a carrier, battleship, and anti-sub destroyer?"

"Admiral? We're leaving the VLS Venture's Pride?" an officer asked.

"Ironsides to Winston: We can."

"Get us out!" Winston barked. He turned to the officer. "They are all smashed by now. They bought us time, but they did not save themselves."

"…The VLS Ironsides picked us up with its cable clusters and lifted us into its hold. We were alive, but Pet Cove was lost. I still wonder what happened to our space cover."

Lord TerranceEdit

A red-robed man walks past, but upon hearing Admiral Winston's query, pauses. "I have an answer, Admiral," the red-robed man says. "I am Lord Terrance, of Paradox's Fourth Fleet. My ship, the Daedalus, received a distress call at nearly 100 hours..."

January 30, 2012. 058 Hours. Above Forbidden Valley, LEGO Universe.

"Lord Terrance! We have received a distress call from our fleet at Pet Cove."

"Alert High command that we are moving to support our brethren."

"Yes, lord."

Lord Terrance turned to his helmsman. "Set for Pet Cove."

"Right away, sir."

The Daedalus' nose lit up with energy, opening a hole in space-time. The helmsman expertly guided the Daedalus through the warp space, exiting a minute later over Pet Cove, where the Third Fleet was fighting off Maelstrom cruisers and carriers. The Third Fleet was in dire straits, with many ships damaged or destroyed. The Daedalus and the Fourth Fleet flew behind the Maelstrom ships, smashing a smaller carrier. The Maelstrom's ships divided into two groups, one heading for the Fourth Fleet and the smaller group continuing to destroy the Third Fleet's remnants.

The Fourth Fleet flew straight through the Maelstrom's ranks and met with the Third Fleet. The Daedalus opened another warp gate and the two Paradox Fleets emerged over Forbidden Valley.

"… Of course, there was no time for repairs. We soon would be in a struggle that we could not win."

"That must have been awful," Winston says, "but at least you saved lives. I only lost them."

Charley MaxeyEdit

"Do you know what happened to the orbitals over Gnarled Forest?" McGraw asks.

Lord Terrance shakes his head. "I have not heard."

Another man sits down along the bar. "I have." We turn to him. "Name is Charlie Maxey. McGraw, I was in one of those stations. Do you want to hear?" McGraw nods, leaning in.

"I was part of the guard patrol at the time…"

January 30, 2012. 630 Hours. Above Gnarled Forest, LEGO Universe.

Sergeant Jarls led his six men through the corridors of GFOrbital-3. They marched past the generators, shield rooms, barracks, launch bay, and more. Jarls turned around, about to say something, just as the power went out. Emergency lights flickered on, casting a dim red.

"Red alert: Invasion in progress," the audio system broadcast.

"Safeties off. Unlock and load," Jarls said, turning around. "Use IR and sonar, but no using lights."

"Hey, we finally get some action," Rich, the guard next to Maxey, whispers. Maxey drew his space carbine. The Imaginite weapon hummed as he flipped the safety and swapped the patrol power cell for a battle cell.

"Do not fire until you can see your targets. If the station comes back online, the security system will be integrated into your HUD."

The team crept through the corridors, heading toward the generators.

A spike punched through the ceiling, dropping in several Space Stromlings. The patrol opened fire and ran for cover, opening doors and using the adjacent rooms for cover.

Blue lasers fired up the hallway; Maelstrom energy blazed down. Rich tossed a stun grenade up, disabling the Stromlings. The patrol opened fire and smashed the enemies.

"Seal the breach!" Jarls commanded.

Two men, Johnson and Manfred opened up their packs and placed explosives in the spike. Maxey and Rich raised a shield around the blast site, protecting the ship from further damage. The spike exploded, and blast plates sealed the opening.

Several turrets came from the walls, glowing purple.

Jarls never saw the blast coming. He fell to the ground, smashed. The remaining squad dove for cover and returned fire while one man tried to hack into the system.

The turrets fell smoothly, and Jarls' pieces were placed on a bed. The squad leadership fell to Manfred. He continued Jarls' move toward the generators.

The patrol rounded a corner to meet a Maelstrom Mech group. The Mechs fired first, smashing Green and Smith. Manfred opened fire, but was unable to smash the Mech before it caught him in an energy field, dragging him away. Johnson ran after, but was smashed by a quick stab.

Maxey and Rich pursued, doing anything they could to keep Manfred from being infected or smashed. Rich pulled out a regular gun with a grenade attachment and fired the grenade, smashing two Mechs. The other four turned. Two had their eyes shot out in seconds. Maxey aimed his weapon and finished these off as the second grenade smashed the other two.

The men ran forward, but it was too late for Manfred, who stood up, purple. Maxey fired, but the armor was designed to stop Imaginite weapons, preventing friendly fire. Maxey smashed the gun against the Stromling's head and darted back as Rich gave "Manfred" a clip. The Stromling fell to the ground.

"… Rich and I made it to another squad, and we made it out alive. But the stations were all lost."

GalebilEdit

"How awful," McGraw says. "Hey, Galebil, what's your tale?" You nod.

"What?" I say, looking at you. "You want to hear my story again?" I address the others. "Very well."

January 30, 2012. 300 Hours. Gnarled Desert, Gnarled Forest, LEGO Universe.

I stood on top of a sand dune, looking for any enemy movement. The third watch was crucial, but I was still tired of it. Dawn was not yet for several hours, and my watch ended then. I did not know if would still be awake.

The desert required special equipment, with blistering heat by day and freezing cold by night. My new Venture Crusader armor was optimized for such extreme conditions. The Crusader's armor is like the Sentinel Knight's, but it utilizes servo motors and Imagic to enhance speed and agility while wearing it.

"Of course, it also has a better-looking helmet, and… Why are you looking at me like that? ...Oh, sorry. It was just an hour later..."

I shifted my grip on my halberd, and looked through my infrared binoculars. There was movement a few miles out. I called camp for a replacement, and hopped on my tread cycle to investigate.

I was about halfway to the target when I noticed that it was not a target, but rather several targets. It appeared to be a small convoy of Maelstrom Turbo Tanks. I was not equipped to fight such heavily armored opponents, so I radioed camp and swung my bike around, riding toward Great Ravine. The turrets along the walls would protect me from pursuers.

A tank noticed me and broke off to follow me. A few Maelstrom sand cycles joined it, along with a pair of biplanes. Another tank followed. Soon the whole convoy moved to follow.

I put my bike on autopilot and swiveled my seat toward the back. I grabbed the mounted machine cannon and fired at the nearest sand cycle. The rounds bounced off the armor, but managed to smash the front axle. The bike flipped forward, crashing into the sand and burning.

A Turbo Tank opened fire. I swerved to dodge. The shell launched up a cloud of sand, blocking my view. I opened the mine box next to the cannon and tossed a few behind me.

My bike blasted forward, propelled by the explosion of a sand cycle right behind it. I took control again and activated my Imaginite boost, instantly accelerating to 135 MPH. The remaining two sand cycles used something similar and continued to close in on me.

I grabbed a flare and fired it up, hitting a biplane and lighting it on fire. The second plane crashed into the first, and they exploded behind me, destroying the sand cycles.

Above, a tank-killer airplane flew into position and fired a missile, exploding just to the left of my bike.

"Ravine Command," I radioed, "This is Galebil! I am under attack by several tanks and a tank-killer airplane. I am en route to the ravine. Requesting turret support!"

"We'll give them a welcome they'll never forget. Sending two jet fighters to cover you."

I kept pressing forward. The tank-killer opened up with its 30mm cannon and nearly tore me to pieces several times. I steadied my hand over the eject lever.

As I was about to pull, the tank-killer exploded behind me. Two jets shot overhead, destroying the nearest tanks with precision missiles.

"Thanks!" I radioed.

My cycle roared into the ravine, pursued by the convoy. Just as they entered, the Imaginite fusion laser turrets blasted the tanks while aircraft fell to SAM turrets.

But fortune was not with us. The power died as a huge electromagnetic pulse weapon detonated over the ravine. Defense teams quickly started up regular cannons and ripped the tanks apart with howitzers and rocket fire. Air targets fell out of the sky, exploding against the ravine walls.

The source of the EMP descended, uncloaking itself. This was a huge Maelstrom Airship. Twin bay doors opened up at its nose, launching several bombers and strike fighters. Stromlings jumped out, parachuting to the ground.

I jumped off my bike and ran on a path up the ravine. Stromlings fell everywhere, and I found myself on a ledge with one ahead and one behind. I thrust with my halberd and unbalanced the fore Stromling. I followed with a quick slice of the blade, but my stroke merely bounced off of its armor. I thrust directly behind with the shaft of the halberd, knocking away the hind Stromling. The fore Stromling mutated its knife arm into an arm holding a spear and thrust, catching me square in the chest. I staggered back, but swung wide and smashed the creature into the ravine wall.

I heard a gun click, but could not turn around to see the Stromling behind me. A bullet dented my helmet. I heard the melody of Imagic begin to repair the damage, and thrust back, catching the Stromling on its infected chin. While it reeled, I strapped my halberd to my back and drew my six-shooter. I spun and sent five slugs into the Stromling, but each bounced off of it. I fired my last at its gun and knocked it away. The Stromling collapsed into a puddle.

As I was about to turn away, a bolt of purple lightning hit the puddle. The Stromling rose again, but this time as something that few had seen before: a Grand Admiral Invader. A sense of dread rose in me as I studied my opponent. The Grand Admiral had a battleship turret for its cannon arm and wielded a sword in its opposite hand. A series of plates concealed a grapple that could launch from its chest. The Grand Admiral smirked and leveled its cannon. The grapple shot out and grabbed into the ledge. The three barrels of the cannon shone a faint purple.

The Grand Admiral fired. I tell you, you have never felt pain until you have been hit by one. I saw a sea of white, and could not feel anything but exploding pain. My armor's Imagic took over for me, and the video feed shows that it sprinted up the path while the Grand Admiral gunned from a distance.

I felt a cold shock and left that white realm behind. I searched for a ranged weapon, but none were in sight. I spotted Venture Rangers on the opposite side of the ravine exchanging bowshots for cannon fire from the Grand Admiral. A pair shot off fire arrows while another pair shot powder-filled arrows, causing explosions all around the enemy. The leader fired Imaginite-tipped arrows, never missing his mark but not leaving more than a scratch each time. Most fired simple arrows, not harming the Grand Admiral. The Admiral tore them apart.

I looked again for something. A glint of metal caught my eye, and I dug into the sand with both hands. I pulled up, and a rocket launcher, probably from the raiders that had been driven out by the Nexus Force. I headed to the edge of the ravine and knelt. I fired just under the Grand Admiral, blowing out the ledge from under it. The Grand Admiral fell, and a howitzer turned it into history.

Ground crews were easily able to destroy the tanks the first time. The tanks were then resurrected by lightning or absorbed into another tank, producing stronger tanks. This continued until the tanks were nearly indestructible.

"Pull out! We're collapsing the ravine!"

I ran to a gunship and entered the troop bay. The gunship took off, flying from the battle. I looked out a window and saw the explosions and the ravine collapsing. The enemy airship fell, burning from our aces' attacks. No Maelstrom could escape that collapse.

"… And we flew back to camp. All were smashed. We ended up flying to Gnarled Desert Mesa and taking a ship to Nimbus Station. I hear the fighting was awful there, but I was fast asleep while that battle raged."

Air Major "Wrecks" TexasEdit

"You were lucky," a man says. We turn to see a man in a tan shirt and faded jeans. "I'm Angus Texas. Most of my fellow pilots called me 'Wrecks'. I was an Air Major for Sentinel, and I led a wing of Eagles."

Everyone hurriedly introduces themselves.

"Well, here's my part. At 1500 hours, after reports of attacks all over the Nexus System, a fleet moved in over Nimbus Station. It was the largest one we had seen…"

January 30, 2012. 1500 Hours. Nimbus Skies, Nimbus Station, LEGO Universe.

"Go, go, and go!" Texas shouted into his microphone. His wing split up into squads and soared toward the enemy aircraft. Texas fired his 20mm cannons and shredded one Maelstrom fighter. He pressed a button and a missile streaked into a second. The shrapnel downed a third.

There were so many enemy aircraft that one smash hardly made a difference. And more kept coming. Texas fired off another burst and downed a bomber. His wingman's aircraft exploded behind him and the blast knocked Texas downward, nearly into the sea below. Texas pulled up and joined an anti-airship fighter pair heading for the enemy air carrier. Texas fired off Splinter missiles, blasting an opening ahead of the AA fighters.

"Thanks, Wrecks!"

"Just keep flying. This isn't over," Texas barked, swerving to avoid debris and firing off more Splinters. He opened up with his cannons and sliced the wing off a bomber. He barrel rolled and an enemy missile streaked past him and slammed into an enemy fighter, destroying it.

Texas fired his cannons until they were empty, and used all his Splinter and Reaper missiles, but the enemy still charged forward. He pressed a button and activated his Imaginite fusion lasers. He laughed slightly and sliced through the enemy, destroying fuel tanks and weapons. All that was ahead of him was one long explosion.

Texas and the AA fighters finally reached one of the seventy-two air carriers. The AA fighters brought it down with I-bombs, but that left seventy-one air carriers in the sky.

Texas spun around and led the AA fighters through the maelstrom of airborne weaponry, taking them safely back to their carrier.

"… I made around twenty more runs like that one, with or without AA fighters. That day was a trial by missile."

Paladin ReginaldEdit

Another man walks by the now crowded bar just in time to hear "trial by missile". He turns, robes flowing, and says, "A 'trial by missile' you may have fought through, but Nexus City was the trial by fire."

You are about to offer your name, but the man says, "I am Reginald, a Sentinel Paladin. I know your name, along with those of your friends. This is my tale…"

January 30, 2012. 900 Hours. Nexus City, LEGO Universe.

Reginald waited. He knew what was coming.

The fifth unit of paladins had hidden themselves in the plain surrounding the city. Each waited patiently, some meditating to channel their strength.

A quiet tremor signaled the enemy advance. Each paladin drew his weapon of choice. Reginald picked up his dual-bladed sword staff and glanced over the hilltop he hid behind. The Maelstrom's first line was a wall of saber-bearing Stromlings. He grinned.

Reginald heard a quiet chime and glanced at his wrist crystal. "Paladins, this is Sage Vintermann. The time has come. Be the power of Imagination."

Each paladin murmured an incantation and stood. Fifty rose against a thousand. The odds were completely in their favor.

Reginald and his comrade, Magnus, strode toward their enemies. Magnus raised his crossbow to shoulder height and fired off the first bolt of many. The shot, aided by Imagic, sped through two Stromlings and buried itself in a third. Each splashed into a puddle, as if a thin skin holding water had burst.

Reginald raised his eyes from the targets and looked beyond. "Sight," he said, and his eyes saw beyond the first few lines to behold a fire creature. "Restore," he added, returning his sight to normal.

"What do you see?" Magnus asked.

"A beast of fire, not Maelstrom," Reginald replied, emotionless. "It must have some intelligence, for it carries a sword and shield and wears fine armor."

"Do you have any water training?"

"Just basic, as is yours," Reginald said, "yet fire is an ally of mine. I believe that I can safely defeat the creature."

"I hope so."

Magnus fired several more bolts before switching to an explosive variety. These successfully destroyed several Stromlings with each shot. "This is child's play," Magnus said.

"Things are not as they seem, Magnus. The defeated are absorbed into the awake, producing stronger foes."

"I believe Imagination blasts might change that." Magnus fired off Imaginite-tipped bolts and smashed several more Stromlings. These ones disintegrated into thin air.

"The creature of fire approaches. I shall battle it," Reginald said, walking toward the flaming giant. He hurled a small pulse of water at it, waiting for its attention. The creature turned and lumbered toward Reginald, raising a flaming sword and shield.

Reginald grasped his staff and conjured a mirror-like film of water between himself and the beast. The beast stepped through, heating the water to a boil.

Reginald sprinted to the beast's right and slashed out with the lower blade of his staff. His staff found its mark and cut through a chain link holding the creature's greave to its leg, causing it to fall.

The beast stepped back and sent three beams of fire at Reginald. Reginald caught the first on his staff's red gem and let power flow through him. He used this power to absorb the other blasts.

The beast fired a large fireball and blew a haze of smoke over Reginald. Reginald called upon the wind to aid him and blew the smoke away.

But Reginald was not in time to avoid the beast's sword. It crashed into him, sending the paladin reeling. He rose up and yelled a spell, chilling the sword beyond absolute zero. The sword disintegrated.

Perhaps this was too easy.

Reginald spun his staff into a vortex of death, removing portions of the fire monster's armor until none remained. He summoned the winds again and rose up into midair, striking along the monster until he reached its head, which he drenched. The fires raging along the beast quelled, and the beast hardened into solid rock.

Reginald signaled Magnus, and an explosive bolt embedded itself in the rock. The rock shattered.

A small Maelstrom core descended to the ground. Reginald opened a portal under it and sent it to a Paradox lab. They would want to know of this.

As Reginald finally smiled, seven more beasts appeared.

"…And then we fell back. These were smarter, and our weapons were no match for them. We retreated in dishonor."

"Honor is nothing anymore."

We all turn to see a Paradox Space Marauder in full armor. "I am Tyrumanai. Honor cost many men their lives in Forbidden Valley, Paladin."

TyrumanaiEdit

January 30, 2012. 1700 Hours. Cavalry Hill, Forbidden Valley.

Today was a strange day, Tyrumanai reflected. Samurai and Shinobi fought as brethren. Each warrior fought up the graveyards, only to fall to some foe. The Samurai fought well, but their Samuraizors were as nothing before the mighty Horsemen Elite. For all the Shinobis' stealth, they could not defeat their wary opponents. But they all kept on, for the sake of their honor, or their clan's honor, or their master's honor, or their Faction's honor, or Imagination's honor.

Tyrumanai stood back, watching. He had been given orders to observe, not to fight. He checked his minigun for the twentieth time. All he could do was watch as they died.

He thought back. This day had been like any other. There had been no warning of what would come mere minutes after dawn. Yet it had come. Nothing could have stopped it. First they entered the Valley at the gate of Raven's Cloud. Then the dragons had broken from their prison and destroyed the Refinery. Many good men had died over there, even the Honorable Brick Fury. The enemy had pursued this dual front for hours before the riders rose from their graves to fight at the Hill. Now the Great Tree's defensive technicians had cut off the road to Raven's Cloud. It was likely that the entire Valley would end up I-bombed.

Tyrumanai's communicator beeped. "Ty, we need you back at Tree Command."

"Men are dying here. I can help."

"Get back here. That's an ORDER."

Tyrumanai activated his jetpack and flew away from the hill, wondering how the fight would end. He could guess.

EndingsEdit

"…All those men died for honor. My fight would come later." Tyrumanai walks away. Air Major Texas follows, but Reginald remains. He turns the rest of us. "It is unfortunate that he sees not the value of honor. It is one of the few things we survivors have left." The paladin turns away and leaves us, too.

"Had enough yet?" I ask. You nod. "Well, we lost badly, but I suppose if the Imagination Nexus is rebuilt, its power can be used to purge the land. But we are so few. I guess we can be glad for having Nimbus Station."

"Indeed," says Vinson.

"We will one day stand together and overcome," Winston adds.

"I hope so," Maxey whispers.

"My axes are sharp," McGraw bellows.

"And our wits stand ready," Lord Terrance confirms.

I stand with a "Goodbye!" and leave. All say goodbye, and we agree to meet again in a week.

You take a look around. Things are in a bad way, but you smile. As long as there are those who yet stand, the war is not over. You leave as well, to another chorus of goodbyes.

-END-

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