Chapter 11 – Metallic Raid

“…We’re gonna have to go through that.”

“What in the hell—?!” Shepherd fell back onto his bottom as the creature roared again and rammed its head against the wall separating it from the stasis pods. “Where did— how did—?!”

“There’s no time!” Siyuakén declared as she jumped in front of Davídrius and Shepherd, “I’ll distract it! Davídrius, you get the kids and the Captain out of here!”

“Tch, of course I gotta do all the haulin’.” The Velocitechnic scowled as he crouched down in between two of the stasis pods and scooped up the still unconscious children. He stood up and glanced over at the other two pods, where Shepherd was picking up the last two children. “Not you!” Davídrius barked, “you’re too slow. You’ll only get them and yourself killed!”

“And I’m supposed to just trust their lives to you?” Shepherd bristled as the room shook from another impact, loosening several rocks from the cave ceiling. “I’d think you’re even worse! Super speed won’t help at all if the acceleration kills them!”

“You clearly—” Siyuakén began, but was interrupted by Davídrius.

“What’re you still doin’ here? Get out there!” he ordered. Siyuakén glared at him for a moment before whipping around and dashing out the cave, immediately launching her grappling hooks at a far wall and yanking herself out of range of the dragon creature. As soon as she left, the Velocitechnic turned back to face Shepherd. “Look, I don’t think you understand how Velocitechnism works. Whatever I’m holdin’ or touchin’ can stand up to the same amount of acceleration that I can. How do you think I’ve still got intact clothes, huh?!”

Shepherd glared back at the Velocitechnic before glancing between the children in his grasp. “…Agh. Fine!” he replied irately, “get going! But if anyone dies, it’s your ass!”

“Don’t worry. I got this!” Davídrius exclaimed, spinning around on his heel before crouching down… and then disappearing with a small sonic boom. He crossed the cavern and leaped up to the exit platform just as the dragon creature smashed its tail into the ground just below the platform. The Velocitechnic ignored the close call and sped off through the caves as Siyuakén swept down and launched both of her grappling hooks into the creature’s tail before shoving a high current through them. It screeched in response as it hardened its tail and whipped it up through the air, dragging the Electrotechnic with it. She quickly released the grappling hooks and struck both of the dragon’s wings with lightning strikes before firing one hook at a wall to swing away from an incoming plume of fire breath. She then released the hook and fired the other in the opposite direction just fast enough to yank herself out of the creature’s path as it slammed itself into the wall at her former location. As she swung around to face it again and got a good look at its body for the first time, she paused in shock.

Down the creature’s back, spread across its wings, and covering a third of its face were thick, rash-like streaks of silver metal.

“It’s infected?!” Siyuakén gasped just as the dragon thrust itself at her again, yanking her out of the air with its hands and snapping her grappling line in the process. She quickly sapped as much electricity from the creature’s hand as she could, forcing its muscles to go slack enough for her to extract herself and leap away before the creature could attempt to grab her with its other hand. As she fell through the air she twisted around to fire a column of lightning at the dragon, stunning it long enough for her to launch her remaining intact grappling hook into a far wall and swing away. Damn rookie mistake, she mentally berated herself, now I’ve only got one line left—!

She immediately put that thought on hold as she released her grappling hook and dropped to the ground, just in time to evade another plume of fire from the beast’s maw. She responded with several lightning strikes but the dragon seemed to simply shrug the attacks off, instead becoming even more agitated. With a powerful flap of its wings it dived straight at Siyuakén, claws first, forcing her to dive out of the way as it slammed into the wall once again. She quickly launched her grappling hook into the far wall to swing away as the creature howled in painful anger and backed away from the wall before turning to face Siyuakén again. The moment it did, she shocked both of its eyes, causing it to reel back in pain… only to suddenly split its forehead, open a third eye, and come dashing after her again.

“What the fuck!?” she exclaimed, just before tucking into a roll as the creature dashed overhead. She offered a somewhat meager electric shock at its underside as she scrambled away and then fired her grappling hook again. “Good thing it’s feral, or I’d be toast by now,” she muttered, glancing down at the cavern entrance just as Davídrius leaped up to it with Shepherd riding piggy-back. A quick glance back to the small stasis room confirmed that all four pods were empty. “I guess I’m done distracting it for now—?!”

Caught off-guard, Siyuakén was unable to properly respond as the creature suddenly extended its tail to three times its length and smacked her out of the air, snapping her second grappling line and sending her hurdling toward the cave wall. Before she could even process the entire exchange, Davídrius had leaped up into the air and caught her before landing in a crouch and launching himself back at the cavern entrance. The moment he was several meters down the cave from the cavern, he set Siyuakén down carefully.

He smirked. “How’s that for worthless?”

“…Ngh,” Siyuakén groaned in response. “…That thing… is infected.”

Davídrius frowned in confusion. “It what now?”

“It has the metallic infection,” she reiterated as she stood up slowly. “…It’s big, powerful, infected, and feral. Our best bet is to just seal off the cavern—”

“Pah, we should just defeat it now, while we have the chance.”

“Are you listening to what I’m saying?” Siyuakén responded angrily, “did you not just see it kick my ass? Fighting it isn’t worth it!”

“Except that it’s a great way to get the Earthians in our debt,” Davídrius replied smugly.

“Tch,” the Electrotechnic snorted. “If I couldn’t beat it, how do you plan to?”

Davídrius smirked again. “Well, clearly, you’re still underestimatin’ me. For one,” he started as he produced two daggers from the inside of his jacket, “I’ve got more pockets than you, and they’re deeper. Two, the ability to run really fast has the side effect of givin’ you impressive leg strength.”

Siyuakén frowned. “And that means…?”

The Velocitechnic grinned dangerously. “It means I can do this.”

He suddenly leaped up and forwards, clearing the entire cavern and preparing to land on the dragon’s back. It turned toward him just in time to react and slapped him aside with its wing, sending him flying into the floor. Davídrius quickly caught himself and rolled to a stop before taking off again, slicing at all four of the dragon’s Achilles tendons before it even realized he hadn’t been crushed against the rocks. With an angry screech it quickly took off into the air, leaving the Velocitechnic behind on the ground — until he crouched down and leaped again, easily clearing the creature and grabbing it by its wing. He immediately jumped onto its back and used his daggers to latch on, driving them into the creature’s skin in between all of the metallic rashes. After pausing a moment to adjust to the dragon’s thrashing, he moved to his feet in a crouch and then spun around, slicing off both of the creature’s wings. He latched onto the creature’s back again as it crashed to the ground, at which point he leaped off, ignoring the dragon’s roaring as he dashed up and past the neck and sliced it, opening up a massive gash. For good measure, he then jumped up onto the creature’s head and rapidly stabbed it; the speed with which he stabbed created enough force to drive the daggers through the metallic rashes and into the creature’s skull, but it also quickly chipped away at the blades. But it was no issue; by the time both daggers were useless, the creature had keeled over, the occasional death spasm being its only movements.

Siyuakén stared at the dragon carcass blankly as Davídrius flipped off of it and then leaped back to the cavern entrance. He crossed his arms, smirked, and chuckled triumphantly. “As I said… how’s that for useless?”

“That was… certainly impressive,” Siyuakén admitted. “Though you did break your weapons again.”

“Tch. Well it ain’t my fault I can’t afford specialized Velocitechnic weaponry.”

“Mm hmm.” The Electrotechnic smiled in amusement before glancing down the cave opposite the cavern. “You got everyone out of here?”

“Yep. Shepherd should be makin’ his way out of the caves right now.” Davídrius paused for a moment and then frowned. “…I wonder what the Earthians will do with those kids.”

“There’s not really much they can do,” Siyuakén replied, “they didn’t look any older than two or three years old. I guess we can hope that the Earthians are moral enough to not use them as child soldiers…”

“I wonder. There has to be some reason those kids were in the stasis pods, and the Earthians will definitely wanna find out what it is. You can bet your ass that, if this were a CSA colony, those kids wouldn’t ever see the light of day. Even if it were a Nimalian colony, they’d probably be put under military or government surveillance until they’re old enough to draft.”

“That’s a very cynical view of the world.”

“It’s true and you know it.” Davídrius passed Siyuakén a knowing glance. “…I may be from Treséd, and I may be more ignorant than the rest of y’all, but I at least know about the fucked up drafts and trades that you other nations do.”

“…What’s that supposed to mean?” Siyuakén responded slowly.

“…Nothing.” The Velocitechnic turned back toward the cavern. “…Now’s our chance to check out that computer before the Earthians get their hands all over it, and while they’d still be grateful we killed that monster thing.”

“Did you forget that we can’t read the interface?”

“…D’oh.”

“Besides, like I said earlier — this isn’t our place to explore. It’s an Earthian colony, so we should leave everything we find to them.”

“Well what about that dragon thing? You said it was infected or some shit, didn’t you? We could at least check it out.”

“…I guess there’s no harm in… wait…”

Siyuakén trailed off and then jogged back to the edge of the entrance platform, with Davídrius instantly appearing beside her. He opened his mouth to ask why she stopped, but then paused himself as he laid eyes on what she was looking at:

The dragon carcass had split open, exposing a huge mass of metallic bugs inside!

“What the— the fuck are those?!” Davídrius exclaimed.

“I… I don’t know,” Siyuakén muttered as she slowly backed away from the ledge. A moment later, all of the bugs within the carcass spilled out and began rushing toward the cavern entrance, and just as suddenly Siyuakén and Davídrius fled back into the cave.

“Well this is fucked up!” The Velocitechnic scowled. “What are those—?!”

“I don’t know, but I have a bad feeling about this!” Siyuakén responded. “…I’m sealing the cavern.”

“Tch, I won’t stop you,” Davídrius snorted as he stepped back. The Electrotechnic stepped forward to the cave opening, charged her body with electricity, and then issued a massive shock to the cave entrance — massive enough to crack and dislodge the rocks, causing a small cave-in. The cave filled with dust and didn’t clear until Davídrius generated a breeze by rapidly spinning his arms. The two Chaotics then looked over Siyuakén’s handiwork: the cave was now blocked completely by fallen rock.

“…This is one fucked up planet,” the Velocitechnic muttered, “the Master Ayas appears, a phantom Battlecruiser appears, there’s a cavern full of gold with four kids in stasis pods in the back, and then there’s this fuckin’ dragon creature thing that exploded into a million damn bugs when we killed it!? What the fuck!”

“Y…yeah…” Siyuakén responded uneasily, still staring at the rocky wall. She then shook her head and turned the other way. “We need to get back to the surface and warn the Earthians—”

She was interrupted as a large metallic bug, nearly the size of her hand, suddenly exploded from the rock wall toward her and opened a gash across her left arm. She gasped in pain and reflexively shocked the bug, overloading it and destroying it.

“What in the—!” Davídrius scowled, glancing over as Siyuakén roughly cauterized her wound with a high-voltage shock. He then jumped as the sound of burrowing began to rumble through the cave walls. “…Fuck this place!” He quickly scooped up Siyuakén in his arms and spun around on his heel before dashing off. “Let’s get the fuck out of here!!”

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