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College is the devil. It is a singularity of infinitely dense bullshit that consumes all your free time.
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Level 17 Game Developer
Ranked as Police Sergeant
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Was gonna do the comic thing, started realizing A. I was horribly short on time to begin with and B. Noting how long it takes comic book artists and mangaka's (who are much faster than I) at drawing and producing a visual story. This really came to mind after spending hours on just a detailed suit of armor, took away my will to pursue and made me realize I'm out of my league here. So, figure I'll just give up the impossible battle and post some TEXT stuff here, because the written story was pretty decent.
I'm noticing that these first couple of chapters are the youngest parts of the story, and suffer from an inferiority complex vs the later content, so for that I apologize, but I gave it a quick sweep for "acceptable". Everything written hereafter though should have a notable upgrade in detail and dialogue (that one REALLY leapt out at me reading this over. Oi.)
Volume 0: Intro
[Enter: White. He walks through the gate into the Hall of Heroes, the volume scrolls up from silence, the sound is people applauding his promotion to the esteemed rank of Vanguard. As he strolls down the carpet, various champions salute him and confetti is deployed.]
Barrus: White, it is my great honor, in the company of all those who support you and whom you serve, to award you the high rank of Vanguard of the Spiral Knights.
White: I am honored.
Desna: Vanguard, eh? The rangers are always looking for skilled knights like you, White. After all this pomp is done, come join me if you want to laugh in the face of death once more!
White: Sounds like my kind of challenge.
[White waves to the crowd briefly before turning and heading towards the exit gate.]
Kora: Nice to finally meet you in person, White! Congratulations, by the way.
White: [Turns to face Kora] Likewise.
[White stops for only a moment to acknowledge his associate before continuing towards the exit]
[Camera shift: Desna, third person. Desna looks as Kora watches White, before following him out the exit moments later. She scoffs to herself before facing the event once more, waving as it comes to its end.]
[Camera shift: Kora running out of the exit towards a now night-time haven. She stops momentarily and looks throughout the city square for her friend. Camera turns and points over her left shoulder backwards, where White stands, leaning against the wall of the compound.]
White: I will tell you once, and only once. I got it alone.
Kora: Like in the field?
[White turns his head back slightly towards Kora and stops momentarily.]
White: You know what I mean. The less personal things get the better, keep it proffesional.
[White keeps walking and Kora holds out her hand slightly, speechless.]
[Scene cut: White at a nearby cemetery. He stands over a grave, writing obscured, with a rose in hand.]
White: Funny... no matter how much praise they give me, I still feel inferior to you... Hell. I know you would've been proud anyways.
[White walks away, slowly, with camera still focused on the grave. Camera shift: the grass upon the grave, now with a rose occupying its space, as the rose has an affixed vanguard emblem.]
Volume 1: C42
[Time cut: Morning. Scene: Desna's Rangers hub before entering Compound 42]
[Desna is giving a speech before her rangers about the upcoming mission as White enters through the door, a minute too late.]
Desna: -who loads his gun with an unconventional kind of bullets.
[The room grows quiet as White enters.]
White: Don't stop on my account.
Desna: [Grins] Let's ride, rangers!
[White approaches the electronic billboard full of information.]
White: Gremlins bio-weapons, eh? Dangerous stuff..
Desna: Always is in this division. I'd have your com tuned in for analysis. Speaking of which...
White: What happened is what you saw; that is to say, nothing. I keep things organized, if you haven't noticed.
Desna: I've seen your clips; I know better than most. Keep in mind that in my division every day is your last, so don't be afraid to live a little after the day's fighting is done.
White: If I die, it'll be as an old man with a dozen slugs in his chest, a broken shield, and an empty gun.
Desna: That's what I like to hear. Better get moving.
[White rides the elevator down to a vast open metallic compound, with a crimson-orange gradient of sunset in the distance. He activates his radio]
White: Hey, you guys getting me at this depths?
Operator: You know we always do. Redirect to Kora, right?
White: Why not.
Operator: Changing frequency now.
White: Hey, Desna has reason to believe we're up against some new material down here. Might send you some data, gonna need analysis.
Kora: [Lays her head on her desk, apathetic.] …
White: [Disengages radio] Great.
[White rushes forward to catch up with the previously deployed squads. He stops to notice some movement near the venting in the floor. A small toxoil emerges from the ventilation and turns to face White. The squads in the near distance are soon ambushed by several while various fire traps activate simultaneously.]
White: Now what have we here... slime based... huh. [He promptly draws his Umbra Driver and squeezes a quick pair of shots at the target, destroying it, before reloading it in a twirling motion from the wrist. The target slain, he continues his push forward to catch up with the teams.]
[A small barrage of mortars begins to touch down on the scarcely surviving team. The team retaliates with a few shots from a catalyzer, but they prove futile and slow. White pulls the trigger on his umbra and keeps it depressed, charging a shot. He releases the shot to devastating effect at long range before the team gives him a friendly wave and continues their push.]
White: [Activates radio] To all rangers, we're seeing various fire hazards in addition to movement by unknown slimes and various gremlin forces, likely crimson order. Eyes peeled and shadow weapons at the ready. Over and out.
[The clock strikes 9:30 and the clockworks shift suddenly, separating White from the other squads.]
White: [Activates radio] Shit, the clockworks just turned over. Kora, I need you to get me back in contact with the other squads, I don't think they'll last long without some backup.
White: You still mad about last night?
White: It was nothing personal, seriously. A bad first impression I admit...
White: [Sharp tone change] Do we really have to dwell on this shit?
Kora: I'm your friend, right?
White: Fuck. I don't want to sound rude here, but we don't have time for this! Lives are at stake and every second counts. If you're gonna lend me tech support do so, otherwise I'm turning off this radio and rushing in alone.
Kora: [Releases a long sigh] Fine... you're several meters to the east it looks like, and there's a lot of ground to cover before you even have a chance to meet back with them. My advice is to haul ass however you can.
White: I understand, over and out.
[White draws his Umbra Driver once more and along with it his Nova Driver. They gleam briefly in the sun along with their custom engravings that read “Vindication” and “Retribution” respectively. A pair of toxoils charges from ahead briefly before being ignited from a nearby furnace.]
White: [Takes pictures briefly from his helmet's HUD] Sending you some in-field images. What can you tell me about these guys?
Kora: Slimes, obviously. Quite a lot of work done on these guys...
Kora: Well, they seem to have most the desirable features. We're talking long-ranged spines, poison excretion, strengthened by combustion, macro-flagella for dash attacks, rapid mucus generation for a potent slime trail. Keep your distance and try to keep them from getting lit on fire at all costs. If they close distance while ignited, it's all over.
White: I'll keep that in mind.
Kora: You happen to bring a cryo driver?
White: No, it's out at the forge having some work done. Went with nova instead. [He charges both of his guns at once]
Kora: Elemental damage isn't going to do anything to them while they're on fire, friendly reminder!
White: [Releases both of his power shots, with half of the Umbra Driver's shot ricocheting out to the left, striking both toxoils in tandem.] You were saying?
Kora: [Sighs] You never listen, do you?
White: A perfect combo doesn't tend to leave much standing.
Kora: Well don't get cocky, you still got a lot of ground to cover.
White: On it.
[White continues to blast his way through slimes and the occasional flamethrower wielding gremlin during a marathon of frantic parkour and pinpoint gunfire. As he approaches the last room between him and the merging of the routes, he slows down to observe his environment better]
White: This room seems just a tad too vacant, scans showing anything?
Kora: Negative. Probably using some gremlin jamming tech.
White: Gotta love gremlins.
[Three of the tiles in front of White flip over to reveal small gel drops, which quickly stretch upwards, revealing themselves to be polyps. White sets sight on his targets and fires a quick charge shot, killing one of the polyps and causing minor wounds to the others. As he sets aim for a second round a quick barrage of mortars screech as they shoot upwards through the air. He raises his Owlite shield to competent effect. As the gremlin attackers stop to reload, he progresses to fire at nearby obstacles either behind them or to their right, causing quick ricochets that either directly kill them, disarm them, or knock them down from their perch to a terrifying death.]
White: [Turns to face polyps] You guys have been pretty quiet...
[The polyps finish their dormant period by splitting into their 3rd incarnation of nuclei, leaving them with 8 each. They begin spinning themselves in increasingly fast circles until their cores begin to depart from the sheer momentum, one by one. As White realizes he will soon be outnumbered, he reloads his guns and attempts to shoot over their children, but with no effect as the storm of toxoils being generated acts as a wall to his gunfire.]
White: Now that... is a cool trick.
[As his guns finish loading, he begins depositing shots into the crowd, slaying five out of the fourteen that continue to press towards him. As he stops for another reload, the wall of opponents finishes surrounding him, and the last surviving gremlin finishes collecting his gear and releases a shot on top of White, causing the entire field of slimes to explode in a maelstrom of flame.]
Kora: Hey- come in, you alive!?
[As certain as death seems, after several seconds of inferno the fire dies down some and White is revealed to be intact at the center, once again raising his Owlite shield.]
White: Sorry for the delay. Alright you ugly fucks, let's settle this.
[White quickly reaches for his Calibur and opens with a 360 degree power attack, sending the wall of slimes flying, their formation fragmented. He draws his Umbra Driver once more and delivers a quick shot to the ledge above, finishing off the last onlooking mortar gremlin. Mere seconds pass before the slimes continue their advance once more, still a half dozen left in the pack. Flames aren't far behind as their constant production of oils continues to cover the field in fire of increasing intensity. White does not choose to retreat again, but instead raises his shield and charges through, stunning half of the crowd before he unleashes a quick cycling of sword hits between targets, two of which have their cores cleaved directly in two. He holsters his blade and draws his guns once more, before firing a killing shot into the 3rd of the pack, leaving only 3 stunned toxoils left to fight. White takes advantage of their momentary weakness and reduced numbers to land a pair of charge shots into the surviving polyps, killing them instantly. White holsters his Nova Driver and draws his Calibur once more, going for a combined flurry of gun and sword. He rushes the front-most toxoil and thrusts his Calibur downward through its core and straight into the ground before vaulting off of his blade. He fires a pair of shots to his left, slaying the second before using his current velocity to remove his blade from the first and perform a vertical 180 degree arc, slicing the third apart before he shoots it twice for just a touch of overkill.]
Kora: Not a bad start.
White: [Draws Nova Driver once more] How close am I to the recon squad?
Kora: At their original rate, they should've been way past your current position, but their signals are reading very nearby.
White: Hold on a sec, incoming radio.
[Radio]: This is recon squad Delta, we're holed up at sector 2,7,9. We're taking casualties and need backup.
[White picks a key off of one of the gremlins that fell onto the platform and rushes towards the door, unlocking it momentarily. Outside lays a courtyard where two men from the squad lay slain. The other two lie behind cover as a small barrage of flamethrower and spines are fired at their position, gradually eating at the barricades. The squad leader stops to see flaming toxoils at his sides, attempting to flank him.]
Squad leader: Hehe... well played. Sullox, we'll rendezvous in hell later, yea?
Squad member: ...Chief?
[The squad leader draws his valiance and leviathan blade simultaneously, a feet easily done due to his large stature. He proceeds to cleave one of the toxoils in two before sticking the valiance's bayonet into the other and unloading his magazine with lethal effect. As the toxoils burst apart simultaneously he becomes engulfed in burning hot oil.]
Squad leader: [He comes out from behind his cover, moments before it becomes permeated by spines] YAAAAAGH!
[As the leader charges straight towards his attackers, he combines sword strokes and gunshots in a storm of destruction. It becomes obvious his time is limited as a gremlin continues to fire a stream of flame over him. He wedges his blade through the gremlin center mass before completely burning to a crisp. His armor and weapons fall to the ground, as if merely floating a moment before.]
Sullox: Dammit! Fuck this!
[The surviving squad member, previously referred to as Sullox, undraws from cover and unleashes a barrage of blitz needles on his attackers, with little effect to the slimes and moderate effect to the gremlins, killing a couple of flamethrower-users.]
White: [Rushes behind the cover next to him] Christ, ever heard of dressing for the occasion, kid?
White: Piercing weaponry is useless against these toxoils, and that shield isn't going to last a moment before their flame. Here. [He forcibly trades shields with Sullox] Hang onto that for the time being. Owlite shield, fifth tier with a UV for increased elemental resistance. That thing is virtually indestructible before our current opponents.
Sullox: Hey, you're that vanguard aren't you?
White: Was under the impression we all were Vanguards. Aim for the remaining gremlins. On three... Three.
Sullox: Wait... what?
[The two expose themselves to combat once more, although not quite simultaneously. Sullox quickly opens fire, killing the last of the gremlins in a barrage of gunfire while White targets the remaining toxoils and their withdrawn polyp creator. With the attackers slain, White withdraws from cover, but Sullox does not share the same sentiments.]
White: Come on, we can't stop now.
Sullox: Those are alchemers, right? Those guns that ricochet randomly?
White: Firstly, drivers. Huge difference in stopping power. Secondly, the ricochets are far from random. They seem random to the untrained eye, but really only ricochet to the left between about -5 and 95 degrees. Moreover, the shots are programmed to dissipate on contact with anyone identified as Spiral Order personnel. I've seen that look before, so trust me when I say they're perfectly safe. [He shoots Sullox in the chest with a quick round. Sullox is shoved slightly an inch or two but remains unharmed.] See?
Sullox: [He feels his chest some, as if not believing the lack of injury] ...Okay. Where are we headed?
White: Our data shows there's a central area where they are likely generating these... things.
Sullox: Toxoils I think we've dubbed 'em.
White: Whatever the case, we've got to put a stop to production, or else this entire mission lost. Come on, I've got your back.
[The two load their weapons before dodging their way through a long hallway filled with various fire traps, which soon prove no match for their high agility and calm nerves. As their marathon comes to an end, they stand before their objective, still behind a gate. Before either can contemplate how to bypass it, a wall closes in behind them and previously hidden poison gas vents are unveiled along with a small ambush of polyps on their flanks.]
Sullox: Shit. What's the plan?
White: Cover us with that owlite shield. I'm going to try and pop a quick pair of shots to get the guys in back.
Sullox: In the back?
White: Yea. After that we're gonna dust these guys off with some sword play. Otherwise you end being useless in this maneuver.
[White unleashes a pair of shots opposite of each other, hitting two out of the four polyps that are present, but only killing one. The other struck by the Nova Driver is severely wounded. The time frame to attack quickly passes before the 3 surviving polyps all rapid fire spines. White raises his shield and stands opposite of Sullox]
White: Stay back-to-back and strafe steadily, their spines don't move so fast that we can't dodge most of them.
Sullox: They have us pinned!
White: Not for long, they'll regenerate spines at some point, and that's when we strike.
[The tactic proves fairly useful, but a large number of spines still collide into their shields, nearly breaking their line of defense. By a nearly invisible margin their shields hold and as predicted, the polyps stop to reload their spines. The poison gas stops just a moment later, giving the perfect opening.]
[White charges with his Calibur and impales the polyp to the west, killing it instantly. Sullox draws his leviathan blade and rends the first polyp to the east in two before performing a spin and finishing off the wounded secondary polyp. The two stand exhausted for a moment before catching their breathe and meeting up at the door.]
Sullox: We need to get through this thing, now.
White: Yea. But how is the question.
Sullox: [Unloads an entire magazine of blitz needle into the lock, before giving a swift kick to the needles stuck into the door. As expected the lock can't survive the punishment and the door gives.] How about that?
White: A little barbaric, but hell... it worked. Let's move.
[The two stand before a large area with various furnaces and fire traps roaring constantly, two small armies of toxoils in cages on their flanks, and a control booth filled with gremlins to the north. The two don't have even a moment to think before the gremlins order the cages to open. The toxoils waste zero time before choosing to charge the intruders in a massive sea of slime.]
Sullox: There's so many... we just can't take them!
White: It's alright. A knight need not have bravery, only valiance!
[White throws Sullox his Valiance, and although Sullox feels betrayed momentarily, they nod briefly towards each other and begin to open fire. The crowd erupts in explosions of slime that begin to coat almost every inch of the room, but the hoard presses onwards anyways.]
White: Whatever you do, don't stop shooting!
[The wave closes closer and closer, quickly forming a two-ply wall of solid slime. Just as it seems the situation can't get worse, one of the ovens towards the back sparks another chain reaction of flame, and the unbreakable wall of foes is refreshed and made deadlier than ever. The two stop shooting momentarily and raise their shields, expecting certain death. A few moments pass before they notice the slimes are no longer advancing on their positions.]
Sullox: What the hell are they doing?
White: No idea, but I don't like it.
[It becomes apparent only a moment longer that the slimes are merging their forms upwards into two gigantic “super” toxoils.]
White: You take the one on the left, I'll get the one on the right.
[The two open fire once more, causing moderate levels of damage. However good their efforts are, it becomes increasingly apparent that their shots can't permeate into the cores, making them completely nonlethal.]
Sullox: This isn't working.
White: Okay, fuck this... new plan. I'm going to fire a charge shot into the one on the right, it'll leave a tunnel through his mucus for you to have time to fire a followup shot, hopefully with enough depth to reach his core.
[The two stop to charge their guns, quickly running out of time.]
[White fires his shot, creating a massive crater in the targeted slime, with Sullox's shot only moments behind. The shots hit with devastating effect, quickly producing a wave of molten slime to flood their position. They quickly raise their shields, White's shield falling behind in stamina within moments. Almost to a degree of relief, the surviving giant toxoil fires a barrage of spikes, knocking him back against the wall with the kinetic energy, narrowly escaping the fire.]
Sullox: You alright?
White: [Pats some flames off of his person.] Think I'll pull through.
[White stands staggered a moment longer, body impaired by the force applied only moments ago. He wastes no time discarding the shattered husk of what was once a shield and loads his gun quickly in preparation for the next slime.]
Sullox: You chill out for a minute, I've got this.
[Sullox holds down the trigger on his valiance before throwing his leviathan blade towards the center of the slime, barely making it even half way to the core. His gun subsequently finishes charging and he unleashes a power shot followed by a few smaller shots, forcing the sword through the toxoil's core with explosive force.]
White: Good one.
Sullox: [Helps White up off the ground] Whatever gets you through.
White: Think it's about time we had a word with management.
[The control booth to the north opens its doors with one final wave of gremlin attackers, with the commanding officer standing several feet in height taller over the others. The pair of knights begin to fire on the smaller gremlins, killing them within moments. The officer gremlin fires a shaped blast from his colossal flamethrower, disarming White instantly. As Sullox charges towards the officer firing wildly, the gremlin demonstrates his strength by simply swatting Sullox aside like a fly, using the butt of his flamethrower.]
White: [Draws Calibur] Come on!
[White dashes forward with blistering speed, and proceeds to slice the fuel chord on the gremlin's flamethrower before cutting the hamstrings on his right leg. As he closes in for the other, the giant picks him up by the arm, dangling, and holds him inches from his face, almost ready to crush him like an ant. A few awkward seconds pass with the combatants looking into each others eyes, the silence surreal, only challenged by their breathing. White snaps back into action and begins several quick stabs into the forearm that suspends him feet off of the ground, causing the gremlin oppressor to react furiously, throwing him across the room. As White becomes aware of what just transpired, he also becomes conscious of the fact his arm has just been torn away from his shoulder downwards. Despite being partially in shock, he stands once more to face his opponent, disarmed and dis-armed.]
Kora: You've got to fall back! You can barely stand, let alone finish this fight!
White: [Muttering] No... [With sharply increasing tone] I... am stronger than this! [The line finishes as nearly shouting at the top of his lungs]
[As White's shout echos through the plaza, Sullox's consciousness stirs and he begins to re-awaken. He sits up and looks, dazed. He on-looks as White hastily prys a tile from the room's floor, sprints towards his opponent, and leaps several feet before spinning and shattering the tile on the gremlin's face in a backhanded slap. The two stop for a minute, staggering before facing each other once more, creating another eery stare that precedes more ruthless violence.]
Sullox: [Stands and primes his blitz needle] Hey! Fuck face!
[The gremlin proceeds to kick White backwards several feet into the opposing wall before turning to face Sullox, seemingly not afraid of the automatic weapon about to release a magazine in his direction. As expected Sullox releases the magazine of 30 shots towards his opponent, striking with moderate effectiveness but being challenged by his high level of body armor. Regardless, the high concentration of fire above his shoulders shatters the gremlin's armored welding mask, exposing a face riddled with aging burns and scars. Meanwhile, White stands up yet again and grabs Sullox's nearby discarded Leviathan Blade, stopping for a moment to adjust his balance, being unfamiliar with its size. He sets his vision on Sullox, fumbling with an attempt to quickly reload his blitz and fire a second volley, as the gremlin closes in. Seeing his doom probable, White dashes off at blistering speeds once more, before stopping to slide, spin counter clockwise, and use the flat side of the Leviathan Blade sideways, crushing in the already wounded right leg of his opponent. The gremlin falls over, crippled and exposed before White bounds forward onto his chest and plunges the blade down into his target's skull, the gremlin still convulsing some. Not convinced of his opponent's death, he sends a quick set of kicks to the hilt of the blade, forcing it several inches farther into his flesh; its after effects send a wave of flesh and gore pulsing across the floor, finishing the battle.]
Sullox: I... think he's dead. You alright?
White: Yeah. Nice save back there.
Sullox: You too. Should we try and kill production now?
White: Right. Time is of the essence. You handle that, I've got to go fetch some things.
[Sullox lines up at the control booth's computer before initiating a series of commands including the deletion of the hard drive's blueprints, activation of the emergency fire control systems, and a self destruct switch reserved for counter-insurgency instances.]
Sullox: We'd better leave ASAP. This place is gonna blow in an hour's time.
White: That's plenty of time, you might want to grab your things. I'll radio the other squads.
White: [Radio] This is Vanguard White reporting, we have successfully infiltrated the enemy installation and crippled bio weapons production. The facility is rigged to blow in an hour's time, so we should clear out before then.
[Radio]: Roger that. Thanks for the assist, guess we'll see you topside. Over and out.
[Scene shift: White and Sullox ride up an elevator back to HQ, White carrying his arm strapped to his back.]
Sullox: [Out of breath] Sorry Commander, I let you down.
Desna: Hardly. You came back alive and took plenty of the enemy down along the way. Go get yourself a drink and some rest, kid.
[Desna turns to face White, who is retrieving some parts from a nearby cabinet.]
Desna: You though... Nerves of steel. Nice job saving the recruit... should I get a medic?
White: [Muffled from tape in his mouth] I've got this. [Finishes fixing his arm] Sorry I couldn't save any of the others.
Desna: Every man in my squad is prepared to give their life as necessary. Given the situation we saved plenty more than we lost. Guess I'll see you tomorrow?
White: Until next time.
[Scene shift: bar. A hooded man with orange shades sits down and orders a drink before lowering his hood.]
Kora: Found you.
[White turns to his left to find Kora sitting next to him at the bar.]
Kora: The lump of tape under your coat made it kinda obvious. Nice work out there today.
White: Could say that.
Kora: That Sullox kid is quite the character, I think he could learn from you.
White: Hardly. He's a ballistic, suicidal-assault brute. I'm a little more calculated.
Kora: He'll make a fine wing man, being everything you're not.
White: For better or worse... Why are you here?
Kora: Thought I'd get to know the man behind the silver mask.
White: You're a bit late. Anything human in this knight up and died long ago.
Kora: I don't believe that. You made saving those knights from the recon squad top priority.
White: There are tactical advantages in saving lives, not to mention it's a portion of my job.
Kora: Tell me something... who are you? Who are you really? Haven's records don't have any listings for you anywhere.
White: A phantom. Thanks for the drink.
[White leaves the bar without another word.]
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