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Chapter 4: Preparations: Battle at Vikanor, Part 1.

'Finally!' thinks Matt, looking down off the cliff. 'Vikanor Space Base. Bout time I .. what now?!' he thinks, realizing that the supposed defenders of the base are attacking two humans. Pulling out his binoculars, Matt tries to ID the humans. 'Let's see..Marlene and Yuji. Figures they'd beat me here. But why in the hell is the base defending robots attacking them,' wonders Matt, who then sees something in the distance. 'A Nest. Great. Just fething wonderful. Just what I needed now, the Blue. This day just gets better and better. Hellgun's outta juice, outta bac-sticks, allies attacking each other, and now a Blue nest. (sigh) This has been one of those days, hasn't it. Least it can't get any worse.' Shaking his head, Matt remounts on his bike, and speeds off for Vikanor, arriving just after sundown.

********Base Camp********

"Marlene," says Yuji, looking at her, "I really wish you wouldn't go on this mission tomorrow. It's suicide." "Yuji," replies Marlene. "I promised you I'd get you to Second Earth no matter what, and I meant it to." After falling into a silence for a few minutes, everyone in the camp here's a motorcycle. "Intruder!" yells the Captain, as the bike comes to a halt in the camp. Everyone has their weapon armed and ready, when the rider looks around, and speaks. "Kaido, get that damn weapon outta my face!" To say Yuji is shocked is an understatement. "It's Ok," yells Yuji. "He's a friend." "What are you talking about, Yuji?" asks a clearly confused Marlene. "Who else, Marlene? I was wondering if you were gonna show up, Matt." "Zip it, Kaido! I took a different route," says Matt, removing his helmet and shutting his bike off. "Anyway, somebody want to explain why the supposed defenders are attacking us and not the Blue." "Sure," says the Captain, motioning for Matt to follow. "Follow me, I'll give you a run-down of the Op." Nodding, Matt follows the Captain into the tent.

********1 hour later********

Matt just shakes his head. 'I was wrong. NOW, the day has gotten worse.' "So, the base's core program has been corrupted, and so Alpha Team is gonna divert the Defenders away from Beta Team, while Beta team fixes the programming, and preps the shuttle for launch. That sound 'bout right?" The Captain just looks at Matt, and smirks. "You're probably the first one to get it right without having to ask any questions. Since we're outta Armored Shrikes, you'll be with Beta Team." "Fine. Sooner we get off of this fethin' planet, the better." The Captain just cocks an eyebrow. "Not quite sure what 'feth' means, but yeah. I think we'll all be glad to return to Second Earth." "Anyway, when's this little op gonna start?" asks Matt. "Sunrise. Might want to catch a few Zs while you can." "Not a bad idea. Later," says Matt, walking out of the tent, and looks for a nice corner. Finding one, he sets out a sleeping bag, and takes a nap.

********Morning********

'(Yawn) Why the feth have I got to be up so damn early,' thinks Matt, shaking his head in an attempt to clear it. 'Oh well. Sooner I get off this rock, the better.' "Hey, Captain!" yells Matt, getting his attention. "How long til we head out." "One Hour," replies the Captain. 'Fine. At least I can get some breakfast first,' thinks Matt, checking over his kit. 'Let's see. 2 full clips for my Auto Rifle. Not too good. Hmm. Plasma Pistol. What'd I got left. 4 shots. Shit! Wish I had some reloads. Ok then. Computer, My Carapace Armor. Thank the Emperor I removed the insulation layer. Hmm. An autopistol with 4 clips, and my bike, should I need to make a quick escape. Guess that's as good as I'm gonna get,' thinks Matt, placing both pistols into holsters at his waist, shouldering his pack and rifle, and checking ammo. 'Well. Might as well get some chow.'

********One Hour Later. Mission Start Time********

"Ok Alpha," says the Captain. "Good luck. Ok, Beta. We'll wait until the Blue engage the Defenders, then we'll move." 'Wonderful. Marlene and the others play decoy while we sit and wait. Never fails,' thinks Matt, pissed off at the delay. 'Damn It! I hate waiting!' "Hey, Capt. How long's this gonna take?" asks Matt, obviously bored. "That all depends, Kabrinski. Just sit down and relax for a while," says the Captain. "Whatever." Replies Matt, sitting down. 'This is gonna be a while.'

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********Meanwhile, in Space********

At the edges of the Gradient system, a bright light flashes for a brief moment, then dies out. Where the light originated, now exists a sleek, black cruiser.

"Captain Saturnius," says Lord Admiral Rommel, captain of the ship, Claws of the Raven, "we've just dropped out of Warp drive sir. All systems are reading green, and all troops appear uninjured. Your orders, sir?"

Captain Saturius turns around, and looks at the Lord Admiral. "Good Lord Admiral. Power up the Impulse drives, and set a course for the Fourth planet of the system. I'm gonna perform a visual inspection of the cargo and crew." "Yes Sir," says Rommel, making the sign of the Aquila over his chest armor. Saturnius returns it, and leaves the bridge, heading for the quarters.

End Part 1.