Queen Vixenn had heard of hot before, but this was insane! Chrome and Spider were taking hits as she jacked into the Matsua remote link connecting to its local server farm. Even this substation was guarded by more Matsua flex than some banks. She flicked the power switch on her Mitsushi 2049, and the lights from the World started to fade around her. The last thing she saw was Johnny turning the latest round of Matsua muscle into random chunks of lawn ornament, and Hardcore dropping off Lady Blackwolf as he spun to take on the approaching Matsua Tigerpaw.
“Good!” she thought. Maybe that would buy her enough time to be able to pull this job off! Another, softer light took the place of the lights from the World, and she looked through the sylvan glade to spot a narrow cleft in a hillside. She pulled a branch of a nearby tree, and the hillside swung partway open, exposing a narrow stairway leading upward. She chose her icon, launched her daemon program Dogpet, took a deep virtual breath, and entered her cyberdeck’s version of the Matsua computer network. She involuntarily shivered as swarm-clouds of grasshoppers and locusts started to blot out the virtual sun.
- “Bard to Queen: Substation’s cut from the rest of Matsua, all you gotta worry about now is local ICE.” Iylothien reported, “Now sling spells and run this grid! Time to prove you’re the Queen, now GO!”
Queen Vixenn ran up the darkening pathway, the daemon’s electronic aural glow providing enough light for her to see the climb was a dead end. Dogpet sniffed out a back door into the base of a tower, then Vixenn used a Lockpick spell to get in. “So far, so good,” she thought to herself. A glimpse over her shoulder later she suddenly became afraid. - “Grey, the door’s open, but it’s starting to close already!”
- “On my way in,” Greyscale acknowledged. He did a half-roll and screamed in sideways through the closing gap in the vortex Vixenn had opened. His environmental module was an aerospace fighter sim. Though the systems worked the same way, each rendered its own version of the environment differently on the client; where Queen Vixenn had hunger, Greyscale had a fuel gauge. He saw her now, a slower, more vulnerable plane than his A/F-179 Corvus.
- “Incoming, Queen – seven bogies on your left. I’ll take ‘em, you go ahead.” With that he streaked across the sky, and in a series of three barrel rolls, he took them all out before they even knew they were spotted.
- “Geez, what the?” Vixenn had no idea anyone could be that fast. Greyscale the Magnanimous had just teleported to the seven goblins that came up on her left, bone shards firing from his fingertips into each of their throats before any could scream for help. She thought it odd, though, that when she complimented him he commented something about “just Messerschmitts”. She shrugged it off as some old-world name for goblins, and proceeded on her hunt for the location of the vault. She wondered how things were going in the real world …
… … - “Hardcore, you got three more inbound coming from the North Gate,” the General reported. “Running interference to delay them, not sure I can stop ‘em.”
In the substation shipping lot, Chrome was returning fire with his twin .44 Magnum automatics with Spider providing close support with his shotgun. The General was keeping the high ground clear of any Matsua activity. Lady Blackwolf took out a group of four Matsua guards as they were maneuvering to get behind the Hound gunmen, but then she got pinned down by a fresh Matsua Armed Response Team who opened up with an LMG660 light machine-gun. A blast from one of the team’s grenades caught her and blew her into the side of a freight bin with a harsh thud, and she blacked out. The Matsua vehicle and seven ground troops in heavy armor approached the downed member of the new team.
“Susan!” Corey, who heard her cry of pain through the Sabretooth’s radio, screamed, and started to leave his assigned area to protect her, but found himself trying to navigate through the maze of shipping containers and starting to get stuck himself. Cursing, he had to give up and backtrack to where he had gone off course. Fuser had been performing recon sweeps of the ground level from his motorcycle, weaving in and out of the warehouse shipping containers, being as mobile as possible, and started to rescue the downed Lady Blackwolf, but had to turn off to support Corey who was beginning to have some trouble getting out of the mess he had gotten himself into in the crate maze. “I was on my way to help Blackwolf,” he announced over their comm channel, but I need to turn back or there’s going to be two of them down!”
Meanwhile a hail of bullets rained down upon the cove protecting the downed gymnast from the dismounted response team that was now supported by an additional Tigerpaw. They had seen enough of what their attackers were capable of. Now that one of them went down, the Matsua ground forces would keep her down. Distracted for the moment by the sheer volume of fire they were laying to keep their acrobatic assailant pinned as they advanced on her position, they didn’t notice the black and rust form racing through the darkness of the night until it was upon them. The first screams over their helmeted radios signaled that the hunters had become the hunted, as the seven shock troops found themselves face to face with a fiendish creature that with tooth and claw was rending them to shreds despite their combat armor. Dozens of rounds were pumped into the snarling mass of incarnate nightmare with little effect. Blade and baton would not deter the ferocity of the beast that was wreaking havoc upon them.