The moment the words left General Bitincher’s mouth, the Black Suns soldiers sprinted for the room’s exits as Bitincher and Reginko both transported themselves to the topside of the roof. Reginko immediately fired off several Chaos Strikes at the mechs, all of which fizzled out midair before Bitincher had to step in and erect telekinetic barriers to stop the hundreds of bullets the mechs began filling the air with.
“They must have individual CENT fields…” Reginko scowled. “My attacks didn’t go through…”
“Then sideline yourself, Commander!” Bitincher ordered, “you’re the wrong type of Chaostechnic to be of use against these mechs, and you just had to let your armor expire, too. Looks like I’ll have to rely on your squad to take care of this situation…”
“Don’t forget about us!”
“…The Nimalians,” the General grumbled, “what do you want?”
“We can help,” Kevérin insisted just after alighting on the rooftop. He was soon followed by the rest of Hero Machina as Kaoné lifted the ground below their feet to be level with the roof. “This is our fault, after all…”
“Ha! I need no help,” Bitincher snorted. “These are just run-of-the-mill security mechs. Large, sure, but they are just automated machines. I don’t need help from Chaotics who can’t even beat Commander Misunderstanding over there.”
Kevérin glanced at the mechs around the complex. Bitincher was right; the mechs were large, but otherwise did not seem to be heavily armed or armored. Each humanoid machine had wrist-mounted machine guns and blades, but little else in the way of armaments. Some of them had started to close in on Bitincher, but none of their bullets were making it through the General’s barriers.
The Transfer Captain sighed and acquiesced. “Well, if you say so—”
“Wait, something’s off,” Kievkenalis interjected, “…Davídrius—!”
The Velocitechnic needed no further warning — he immediately jumped in front of the Black Suns General and began deflecting the incoming bullets with remarkable speed as they began to somehow pierce through the telekinetic barriers.
“My barriers expired?!” The Psychotechnic scowled with irritation. “Wait, my powers—?” His gaze suddenly transitioned to a small egg-shaped object as it rolled to a stop near the center of the group. “…CENT grenades?!” He immediately grabbed the object and chucked it to the side before turning back to the mechs and once again stopping the bullets with his barriers.
“So those things can fire CENT fields at us?!” Kaoné exclaimed, “but that’s—!”
“It sounds exactly like something the Citans would do,” Bitincher retorted, “I guess I could use your help after all! Watch out for those CENT grenades — I’ll draw fire! You Introtechnics, focus on destroying the weaponry — the rest of you can work on disabling the mechs! And you with the Ayas, it’s on you to destroy as many CENT fields as possible, you hear me, boy?! Now, on my mark—!”
“Wait what?” Davídrius turned toward the General irately. “Why do we have to take orders from you?”
“Who’s got the most experience here, boy?” Bitincher shot back, “this is battle! No time for arguing—!”
He was interrupted as two of the mechs leaped forwards, crashing down on the facility rooftops barely ten meters from the group of Chaotics. Christeané immediately began twirling his hammer around, but Bitincher was quick to stop him.
“Are you suicidal?!” the General shouted. He then took a moment to lift up several pieces of debris from the ground floor and launch them forwards, toppling one of the mechs. Turning back toward Christeané, he continued, “those things have local CENT fields! Don’t just go flinging yourself into them! We have to take care of them smart-like—”
An explosion attracted everyone’s attention to the left. The chest of one of the mechs had just imploded on itself, and the mech itself began to collapse forward. Two Black Suns soldiers alighted on its head before severing the neck connection and then throwing themselves to the ground just in time to get clear of the toppling machine.
“—And that’s the mark! Scatter!” Bitincher shouted, dashing away from the two nearest mechs. Davídrius made to argue further but was distracted as another CENT grenade rocketed past his head. He spun around and threw the blade end of Hastryth after the grenade, slicing it out of the air before swinging the weapon back around to slice a chunk of armor off a mech that was approaching. He rolled to the side to avoid being squashed underfoot and then leaped into the air, grabbing a piece of the mech’s thigh armor and throwing himself higher. He then stabbed the mech’s chest plate and swung upwards just in time to avoid being swatted away by the mech’s wrist-mounted blades. The moment he was level with the mech’s head, he launched Hastryth’s blade, embedding the blade in part of the mech’s armor and using the connected tether to swing under the chin and up around the other side of the head. As soon as he landed on top of the head, he lifted his right leg into the air and smashed it down onto the metal plating, obliterating the entire surface. He sliced at the back of the head as he threw himself to the ground, catching himself just in time to sprint forwards and intercept a CENT grenade flying toward Kievkenalis, who was busy calling several forms of support attacks and carefully monitoring the rest of the group.
“Chaos Assist! Chaos Heal!” he called for the third time since fighting broke out, ignoring the few bullets flying his way as they simply bounced off the Chaos Energy aura that surrounded his body. “…Kaoné, look out!”
“Huh—? Uagh—!” The Materiatechnic stumbled backwards as a nearby mech thrust its fists forward, pulverizing much of the building Kaoné had been standing on. She quickly scrambled backwards as she ripped metal supports out of the fallen rooftops and flung them forwards with great speed, smashing through the mech’s left shoulder and tearing its arm off. The force toppled it over backwards, but before Kaoné could attempt to finish it off, another mech came charging in, guns blazing. Kaoné quickly erected reinforced barriers but was barely able to create a full shell before the mech got close enough to negate her powers. It then tore down the barrier and reached its arm around, wrist-blade extended, just before a metal strut swung through the air and clobbered the mech, sending it stumbling backwards and falling down on top of the mech Kaoné had just knocked down. The Materiatechnic quickly recovered and grabbed the metal strut from Christeané before dangling it in the air above the mechs and releasing, allowing gravity to pull the strut through their chests and destroy their CENT generators. Christeané quickly took advantage of the opening to fling himself forward, grabbing the strut as he flew past to stop himself on top of the two mechs. He began twirling his hammer for a second and then released it downward, completely obliterating the entire mid-section of both mechs. Jumping forward, he smashed both of the heads for good measure before ducking behind some metal walls to evade gunfire.
Across the base, General Bitincher jumped off the roof and to the ground before leaping forward and creating a telekinetic barrier around three of the Black Suns soldiers and pulling them backwards, just in time for two mechs to try and stomp them. The unexpected lack of material underfoot caused the two mechs to lose balance and stumble forwards; just before they could recover, Bitincher flung two of the soldiers up into the air. The two soldiers quickly drew blades from their backs and sliced at the mechs’ neck areas as they flew past. One of the soldiers managed to stab her blade into the back of the mech’s head and swing around to fire several laser blasts from her arm-mounted cannon, but the other soldier missed and went sailing through the air… straight into the waiting hands of a third mech.
Before it could squeeze or otherwise murder the soldier, Davídrius launched himself upwards, cleanly slicing through the mech’s elbow with Hastryth before whipping around in the air and launching the weapon at the mech’s chest plate, using it as an anchor point to swing around to the mech’s head and demolish it with a fierce kick, as he had done to two mechs prior. Just before he could jump away, though, a different mech charged forward and barreled through the collapsing remains of the mech Davídrius had just destroyed, sending him flying through the air uncontrollably. He tumbled to the ground and rolled to a stop, unable to properly catch himself. Once he finally stopped, he quickly moved to dash back toward the fighting, but was caught off guard as a mech suddenly landed behind him, snagging the blade end of Hastryth just as the Velocitechnic took off, thereby yanking him backwards painfully. Without losing a moment, it raised its foot and brought it down on top of Davídrius before he could even recover. Just before its foot slammed down on the Velocitechnic, a large cement rock smashed into the mech’s chest, sending it off-balance. Two laser cannon shots pierced through the mech’s chest before Bitincher himself bounded forward and tore the mech asunder with crisscrossing barriers. He then flung Davídrius to his feet with a barrier and had barely given the Velocitechnic a nod of acknowledgment before dashing back into battle with two soldiers on his tail.
“Haha!” Christeané grinned and whooped as he pulverized another mech on the other side of the base. “Another one down!” He quickly surveyed the area before exclaiming, “and only three more to go! What pushovers!”
“I didn’t think this would be quite so easy,” Kaoné commented as she erected another metal barrier.
“They are just security mechs. I mean, yeah, the CENT grenades seemed like they could be a threat, but in the end there’s just not much you can do to stop Chaotics!”
“Unless you’re an elemental…” Kaoné remarked, referring to Kevérin, Rebehka, and Siyuakén. The three of them had been forced to take refuge with Reginko, as their abilities did not allow them to fling objects through a CENT field as easily as everyone else.
“Well, not everyone gets to participate in every battle.” Christeané shrugged. “I’m sure this isn’t the last fight we’ll get into.”
Kaoné rolled her eyes. “You say that like it’s a good thing.”
“Well, I mean, yeah. At least it’s gotta make the mission reports more interesting. Imagine how boring it must be for Nikéyin to just read about ‘we went here and did x and then we went there and did y’ all the time.”
“And being able to say ‘then we went here and fought z’ is more interesting?”
“Bah, you know what I meant. But we’ve wasted plenty of time already, let’s continue this conversation later.” Christeané turned around and began twirling his hammer — only for the object to fall to the ground with a disappointing thud as he yanked the cord unsuccessfully. “Uh oh…?” he muttered as a shadow fell over the two Chaotics. They both glanced upwards uneasily just in time to see a mech stand over them and train both of its guns on them.
It was also just in time to see Davídrius rocket through the air, Hastryth-first, and crash straight through the mech’s chest, removing a large chunk of its internal mechanisms. Christeané immediately responded by launching his hammer upward, demolishing everything that Davídrius hadn’t. Kaoné quickly caught the scrapped and short-circuiting material and flung it clear of the two Chaotics.
“Alright! Ha ha, Davídrius, perfect timing!” Christeané exclaimed, and then turned around warily when the Velocitechnic failed to respond. “Davídrius…?”
“Agh…” The Tresédian managed to pull himself into a standing position as he clutched his right shoulder painfully. “Shit, that hurt…”
“Are you okay?” Kaoné asked uneasily.
“Ugh… yeah, I’ll be fine.” Davídrius squinted in pain at the Materiatechnic. “I’m a Velocitechnic, sure, but that doesn’t stop it from hurtin’ when you decide to smash through two meters of metal and circuitry…”
“Ah, you’ll be fine,” Christeané replied nonchalantly as he turned to survey the area again, “…look, the Black Suns just finished off the last mech.”
“…So they have,” Davídrius observed as General Bitincher turned toward the Chaotics and waved them over. The three approached the edge of the roof and jumped down, where they rejoined the rest of Hero Machina as they approached the wreck of the last mech.
“Some help you three were,” Bitincher admonished once Kevérin, Rebehka, and Siyuakén had approached.
“It’s not our fault,” Siyuakén replied defensively, “there’s not much we could do against CENT fields.”
“They’re elementals, sir,” Reginko explained, walking up behind the General.
“Oh. Tch. I suppose I can understand, then… but you’ve still got a lot to learn if you don’t know how to work around CENT fields.” Bitincher shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Alright, kill count, go. My soldiers and I destroyed six.”
“Kill count? What? Why?” Davídrius questioned.
“To make sure that we’ve accounted for them all,” the General answered, “only count mechs that you dealt the final blow on.”
“In that case… three,” the Velocitechnic replied.
“And I got five!” Christeané exclaimed.
“Three and five… is that it?”
“I helped some, but I never downed any…” Kaoné responded.
“Hmm… six, three, and five… that’s only fourteen.” Bitincher suddenly became alert again and began surveying the area. “There were fifteen to start with. Where’s the last one?”
“Of course it wouldn’t be that easy…” Davídrius scowled, brandishing Hastryth as he turned to inspect the surroundings — and was suddenly punted clear across the base. Two of the Black Suns soldiers were bowled aside before one of them fired blindly, landing a hit on something — a something that revealed itself to be a mech, formerly hidden by the invisibility cloak that the soldier had just destroyed.
“A cloak?! What in the—?!” Bitincher started, but was forced to interrupt himself and dive out of the way as the mech swung its wrist-mounted blades at him. It swiveled around and fired on three of the Black Suns soldiers with its guns before turning again to grab Davídrius out of the air just as he pierced the chest plate. It threw him at the ground with incredible force, knocking him out, before turning again to face the remaining Introtechnic.
“Shit!” Christeané exclaimed, diving out of the way just in time to avoid being stomped. He quickly backpedaled before spinning on his heel and attempting to dash at full-tilt, hoping to get clear of the mech. However, the mech was faster — it jumped forward, landing directly in front of Christeané and just close enough to Kaoné to prevent her from stopping it. It landed unevenly, however, and its right leg slipped out from under it on the soft sand, causing it to collapse forward — and trap the Forcetechnic under its palm. Without hesitation, the mech pressed down with such force that its hand became submerged in sand up to its wrist.
“Wha…at?…” Kevérin responded slowly, blinking several times in disbelief. “Christeané…?”
“Over…drive:… Omni Crush!!”
Immediately, a large, cylindrical chunk of the mech was utterly flattened into a metal plate barely half a foot thick. Christeané punched his way out of the metal mess and walked over to the rest of the mech, where he irately slammed his fist into the top of the mech’s chest — and completely obliterated the entire machine, simultaneously throwing up a massive dust cloud as the force scattered all of the nearby sand.
“Uh… what?” Kaoné stared on in confusion.
General Bitincher seemed to understand what had just occurred, however, and chuckled bitterly. “You unlocked your Overdrive with that?” he snorted, as Hero Machina and the remaining members of the Black Suns squad re-converged on his position. “…I really don’t know what to say, except that I was just about to take it out myself, you know.”
“Yeah, well…” Christeané shrugged. “Whatever.”
“’Whatever,’ he says.” Bitincher shook his head wearily. “I remember when unlocking your Overdrive was a momentous occasion, a cause for celebration… but you say ‘whatever.’ I’ll never understand you Nimalians.” He turned around and began marching off, with the Black Suns soldiers quickly falling in line behind him. “The security’s out and the base is as good as destroyed. At this point, I don’t care if you manage to salvage anything from the mess, but you’d better be gone by the time we return for proper clean-up! And I had better never see the lot of you again!”
“I… you… what?” Kevérin responded in confusion, “wait, but you… we…”
“Let him go,” Christeané replied. “He’s right, there’s not really anything else to do here.”
“And he’s also right that unlocking your Overdrive is pretty significant!” Siyuakén exclaimed, “that was… what happened?!”
The Forcetechnic shrugged. “I almost got crushed. I’d say that qualifies as a life-threatening moment.”
“Now’s not the time to start analyzing everything,” Kevérin cut in, “it seems like the Black Suns are giving us a free pass, so we had better take it and leave.” He gestured to his glasses. “I’ve already claimed all of the data we need, anyways.”
“About time.” Rebehka sighed wearily. “I’ve had enough of this heat… and dryness… and CENT fields… and everything.”
“Someone’s going to have to drag Lieutenant Hasty with us, though,” Siyuakén retorted.
“Heh, I’ve got it,” Christeané remarked as he moved toward the unconscious Tresédian.
Kevérin watched the Forcetechnic for a few moments before finally glancing at the time — and balking. “Uh… bad news, guys.”
“Uh oh…” Kaoné frowned. “…What is it?”
“…We’re going to miss the next window back to Damunin.”
“What? No. We are not staying here for another twenty hours,” Rebehka declared before rushing forwards, Siyuakén quickly following. “C’mon! Let’s go!”
“Well… I won’t argue with that.” Kevérin leaped into the air and began hovering with bursts of flame as Kaoné manipulated the ground under Kievkenalis and herself to rush forwards. The Transfer Captain glanced toward Christeané and shouted, “Hey, Christeané! We’re leaving!”
The Forcetechnic responded with a thumbs-up before hoisting Davídrius over his shoulder and then flinging himself forward with his hammer. Kevérin smirked and blasted forward himself, shouting, “Hero Machina… move out!”