Phantasy Star Online Episode I

The "Pioneer Project". --A plan born of desperation, conceived in response to the imminent destruction of their home worlds. As plans for the evacuation began, unmanned probes were sent to find a habitable location. When a potential site was discovered, the interstellar transport ship, Pioneer 1 was sent to establish a colony. Pioneer 1 confirmed Planet Ragol as a suitable location, and the initial colonists began preparations for the main wave of refugees, beginning with the construction of the Central Dome. 7 years later... Pioneer 2 completed its long voyage with the main wave of refugees aboard. But as Pioneer 2 entered orbit and opened a communications link with the Central Dome, an enormous explosion shook the entire planet. All contact with the thousands of men and women of Pioneer 1 was lost...

                                            Chapter 1: Beginnings
                              Pioneer 2: Near Principle Tyrell's office
A blue and yellow HUcast stepped out of a teleporter into a crowded intersection. The android, an Oran android know as Stormsworder, had just spoken with Principle Tyrell. He had asked the skilled android to investigate Ragol after a large explosion had knocked out the communications link. Stormsworder could easily tell he was worried about his daughter, even though he was trying his best to hide it. Rico Tyrell was a famous hunter and scientist aboard Pioneer 1, and Principle Tyrell's only daughter. The android had never met her, but he had heard of her achievements and skills. She was perhaps the greatest hunter ever known. Of course, that was to be expected, since the famous Heathcliff Flowen had trained her. Rico's mother was a famous hunter, yet her father was a politician, now the leader of Pioneer 2. He was against her becoming a hunter, wanting his daughter to become a politician like him instead. But her path was chosen, and she quickly became a hero to the people. When Pioneer 1 was to launch, she chose to join them instead of waiting for Pioneer 2. There was no way to know if she survived the explosion, but Stormsworder planned on finding out. He chose his weapons from his vault at the Check Room and headed for the teleporter. But when a voice yelling his name came from behind him, he stopped. A young Viridia HUmar was running his way, waving his hand to get the android's attention. The boy introduced himself as Ash. It seemed that he wanted to go planet side, but wasn't sure about going alone. "Look," he started, keeping his tone light, "I would like to take you, but I want to go to the planet alone for my first time." Ash's shoulders slumped and he looked disappointed. "Don't worry though, I'll take you someday." With that, the HUcast entered the teleporter.

Chapter 2: Mother Earth of Dishonesty
Planet Ragol: Forest: Residential Area
Stormsworder looked around, the Dragon's Claw humming softly. A capsule was on the ground in front of him, and it was activated. He walked over to it and played the recorded message. "Ah, testing, testing? Cough! I'm Rico, Rico Tyrell. I'm a hunter. This capsule is for anyone who has come looking for me. I hope this helps you. I don't know who you are, but you must know that there is something unusual about Ragol. This is important. Pay attention to everything around you if you want to survive." He laughed. What could be so bad about this place? His Mag, Asparas, alerted him of unknown contacts in the next area. There were some weird creatures walking around the area. His computer targeted and identified each one. Two Bartles, one Barble, and one Tollaw. Advanced forms of Booma, Gobooma, and Gigobooma, if his computer was correct. He stepped through the gate and the animals turned to him. They looked hungry and really ticked off. Hostile animals then, he thought and charged the nearest Bartle. The claw shredded the beast and impaled another. Stormsworder brought his leg around and smacked a Barble in its face, crushing its skull. He heard a roar from behind and he rolled to avoid the swipe, just as heard the claw whistle past his head. Stormsworder jumped on top of the mantis-like Tollaw, driving his Dragon's Claw into its head. He heard another roar and turned, seeing a Bartle coming his way, followed by two more. The HUcast took out his Dragon Slayer and charges the monsters. The blade cuts the three of them down and is impaled through a Barble sneaking up from behind. Stormsworder draws his Bravace and lasts three more Tollaws, one round to each of their heads. The gate unlocked and he went through. The android walks through a passage into the next area. A howl breaks the silence, and others soon follow. The computer identified the howls as those belonging to Gulgus and Gulgus-gue, advanced forms of Savage Wolf and Barbarous Wolf. The Gulgus had two horns on either side of their head, horse-like hooves, and a bird-like head. They wolves charged him. Stormsworder takes down the first two with a trio of Photon bullets. The Dragon's Claw is implanted into the side of the last Gulgus, but Stormsworder is knocked to the ground by the Gulgus-gue he ignored. The wolf comes at him again, but he uses the Claw's special. A fireball shoots out and burns the wolf's head. He hears even more howls and spots another group of Gulgus coming at him. His Vulcan fires a hail of bullets towards the pack and is rewarded with a howl of pain. Stormsworder draws his Stag Cutlery and slashes through one Gulgus. Another one pounces, but the android drops and cuts through the monster's throat. But during that attack, the Gulgus-gue jumps onto his chest. He drew his Bravace, aimed into the Gulgus-gue's snarling mouth, and pulled the trigger. It slumped over, dead. He goes through another gate, and hears a buzzing drone. The HUcast looks up and spots a Mothvist and its escort of Mothverts. Advanced forms of Monest and Mothmant, which led him to suspect that all the animals were advanced forms of other animals. The Dragon Slayer in hand, Stormsworder waits until it lands before charging. The swarm is cut down in one swipe, and the nest in three. A group of shadows appears, and four El Rappies drop in. The fifth shadow belonged to the rare Pal Rappy. The birds were advanced forms of Rag Rappy and Al Rappy. As they began to walk toward him, he drew his Vulcan and blasted the birds. There was another capsule, which he replayed. "What made the animals become violent all of the sudden? They weren't before. They were very quiet and friendly? There must be some cause. I'll find it. I know I'm a fool. This won't make me any richer. Perhaps that's why I'm exalted by them... Red Ring Rico, ha, ha. But I'm not really the great hunter citizens say I am. They needed a hero. And I just happened to fill that position." In the next area, Bartles and Gulgus attacked. The claw cut every enemy down to size in barely a minute. Stormsworder found yet another capsule near a teleporter at the far side of the room. "Wow... bodies of dead animals... We hunters sometimes use firearms, but this... They were killed by firearms that are much stronger than ours!" Strange, he thought, there are no other bodies in here besides the ones I killed. He stepped into the teleporter and disappeared.

Planet Ragol: Forest: Central Dome
The rain beat against his armor as he took in his surroundings. Stormsworder had appeared on a ledge with a ramp leading down to an area with boxes. He opens them and spots a red container, a special weapon. When he took it out, he didn't need a Tekker to identify the weapon. It was a powerful Inferno Bazooka. The Hunter goes back up the ramp and proceeds through the gate. A pair of Gulgus get up and charge him. The bazooka exterminates the wolves and blows a Barble into the pond behind it. Another Barble digs itself out a few feet away, just as a Tollaw came out from behind. Stormsworder draws the Dragon's Claw and impales the Tollaw. He activated the special and sends three blasts of Foie at the Barble. Two El Rappies drop in and quickly fall beneath his claw. After a few minutes of slashing and shooting, he finds a warp guarded by a Hildelt, advanced form of Hildebear. It shoots out Zonde, which the hunter dodges. He retaliates by sending a Foie back at it. It falls backwards, its face barely recognizable. The warp leads him to an area where Mothverts brought down two Mothvists. The Slayer cuts into the nests and insects, bringing in a group consisting of Bartles, Barbles, and Tollaws. As he cuts the last Tollaw in half, another group jumps in, this time a pack of Gulgus and Gulgus-gue. Once he strikes down the last wolf, the room falls silent, with the only exception of the rain beating against his armor. Through the gate, three more Tollaws are cut down. A Hildetorr appears and launches Megid at the android. If he remembered correctly from his computer, this beast was the advanced form of a Hildeblue. Megid was also known as the Curse of Death, so it could even kill and android. He quickly kills the primate, activating a teleporter and a capsule. Pausing, he replayed the last messages from this area. "A disaster occurred. Things were shaking, then something broke through the surface. And then it exploded in the Central Dome! I don't know what to say... For 7 years, we've tried to adjust and improve the environment. What was it? Was it related to the accidents we've had recently?" After that, he had found a weird monument, which had activated when he had touched it. There had been a capsule there as well. "I heard that this tall column was built to commemorate the immigration of Pioneer 1. But... it may just be me, but it doesn't look very new. And these patterns... aren't they characters?" The latest capsule he found was before the area with the warp. "Pioneer 1 may have damaged the ecological system of Ragol before we were aware of it. So, the native creatures tried to remove the invaders. That's one supposition. But what about the explosion!? I need more information. I have to go do some research." The capsule in front of him told him to try and find another way in, since the main door would not open. It looked like it was shorted out by something, probably the explosion. Stormsworder turned to the teleporter and entered.

Chapter 3: Growl, From the Depths of the Earth
Planet Ragol:???: Polar Region
The wind whipped around him, and the beating of large wings made him look up into the starry sky. A beast flew towards him, and he suddenly remembered the myths on his planet. Dragons were mythological beasts that could breathe fire at their foes. He had never seen one before now. His computer identified the monster as Sil Dragon, an ice-breathing dragon. Stormsworder jumped away from it's clawed feet, landing hard on the ice. He drew the Vulcan and pulled the trigger. When it fell to the ice, he charged and began to slash with the Dragon's Claw, taking out its flesh. It roared and flew into the sky. Asparas suggested using Photon Blast Pilla to take down the beast. Stormsworder raised his hands up, pointed them downward, and then thrusts them into the air. An angel-like figure appeared and fired a ray of light into the sky, piercing the dragon before splitting up and landing around him. His enemy landed and roared in pain. "Gotcha you dumb dra-" but his words were cut off as Sil Dragon flew into the air and dove into the ice. "Shoot!" he yelled as he accessed his area map and tracked the tunneling beast. Stormsworder dodged it the first two times when it traveled in a straight line, but when it began to spiral inward, he knew he was in deep trouble. As it closed in, he ran and slid past, scratching his armor on the ice. Sil Dragon flew out of the ice and landed. Dragon Slayer in hand, he charged the beast. As it opened its mouth to eat him, Stormsworder rammed the sword into its mouth and pulled it upwards with all his strength. It fell to the ice, the top of its head cleanly sliced in two. "So this is what it feels like to kill a myth. I like it," he said to Asparas.

Pioneer 2: Principle Tyrell?s Office
Principle Tyrell was shocked by the news of the dragon. He was even more surprised to hear that his daughter was still alive. Stormsworder had transferred the audio messages he had recorded to the Principle before he battled Sil Dragon. He wasn't very interested in Rico being alive, for he envied her. The android was a great fighter. He believed that he could best Rico any day, but he dare not say that in front of her father. My mission is to search for survivors, he thought grimly, and like it or not, she is one. As he left, he found himself wondering if any other people were still alive. A message arrived for him while he was thinking. It was from Chief Natasha Milrose of the Pioneer 2 labs.

"Here is the data on all the animals in the caves. These creatures show signs of DNA alteration, so they are classified as Altered Beasts. Pioneer 2 was doing some research down there, so keep your eyes peeled for any evidence or survivors. Good luck in finding Rico. --Chief Natasha Milrose"

Below that was a list of animals found in the caves.

"Vulmer, Govulmer, and Melqueek, advanced forms of Evil Shark, Pal Shark, and Guil Shark. Ob Lily and Mil Lily, advanced forms of Poison Lily and Nar Lily. WARNING: These creatures launch Megid at any nearby human. USE EXTREME CAUTION! Crimson Assassin, advanced form of Grass Assassin. BEWARE OF FREEZING POWERS! Nano Dragon, powerful creature that grows as it kills others. Pofuilly Slime and Pouilly Slime, liquid creatures that can slice with their tails. Pouilly Slime is rare subspecies of Pofuilly slime. Pan Arms, a creature that can split into two separate beings, Hidoom and Migium. Cause of DNA alteration is currently unknown."

After reading this, Stormsworder headed for the teleporter and set the coordinates for the caves. It was time to find out if he could find any more survivors.

Chapter 4: Kink in the Wind and the Way
Planet Ragol: Caves: Volcanic Area
The hunter activated his environment shield, for not even androids could take this kind of heat without melting down. In the first room, a trio of Vulmers came at him. They resembled Boomas, but they had Photon claws, making them much more different. The first Vulmer took eighteen Photon bullets to the face from the Vulcan. The second's legs were tore to pieces by more bullets, and the last one took a bazooka round to the stomach. The next monsters were a duo of Ob Lilies. In a single movement, he drew the Dragon Slayer and cut the Lilies at their stems. Behind Stormsworder, a Govulmer appeared from out of nowhere. He activated the special, and, in one explosive slash, the Altered Beast was thrown into the wall. Six more Govulmers appeared and charged. The android suddenly disappeared and the monsters halted. They looked around, confused. Stormsworder appeared right where he was before, the Slayer covered in green blood. All six of the A. Beasts fell, covered in sword wounds. There was another capsule by the door, and he went to listen to it. "Wow... this cave is a treasure trove of discoveries. Creatures that have never been seen by people. Completely unknown animals. They look like mutant forms of the native animals... Perhaps the government has kept this a secret...? It's possible... but for what purpose." In the rooms that followed, it was the same thing: Vulmers, Govulmers, Ob Lilies, and the occasional Crimson Assassin and Melqueek. By the time he reached the teleporter, his armor bore cuts and burns. The enemies he faced in the cave were strong, but what he had just faced was a prelude to the battles to come.

Planet Ragol: Caves: Water Area
All was going well for Stormsworder. He had beaten many of those foul creatures and found a new capsule. "I know that Pioneer 1 had some strange aspects to it. In the data I procured, the consumption rate was much higher than the population? Perhaps there were a lot of non-registered citizens onboard. Why? What was their purpose?" That was an interesting question, but the next one really got him interested in Rico's discoveries. "Come to think of it, there was something very strange about Pioneer 1. Pioneer 1 was designed to be used as material to build the Central Dome. But we discovered that the Dome was 12% smaller than it should have been. We wondered about the 12% that was missing... We might be able to find out more if we continue investigating." After a little while longer, Stormsworder found another one of those strange pillars. It activated when he touched it, and there was a capsule near it. How many of these has she left, he wondered. "My first question about Ragol was, Why didn't any sentient life exist here? But... look at this monument! This is identical to the one I saw in the forest! It's NOT ours though... Was there an ancient civilization on Ragol? But these monuments are the only evidence I see? It'd be strange if there was a civilization, indeed... Can I decipher these characters with my simple tools?" In the room before the teleporter, there was another capsule. "Ah, the characters on the monument... I don't have any idea how to proceed. I need more samples." Looks like she's at a dead end, he thought, I wonder if I can do any better.

Planet Ragol: Caves: Central Dome Area
The third caves area seemed to have some objects of human origins, meaning Pioneer 1 was building something down here. The Crimson Assassins were gone, but a new enemy had taken its place. Pan Arms were nearly invincible; the only way to beat them was to wait till they split up into Hidoom and Migium. Stormsworder had just cleared another room and was listening to a capsule that was left behind. "I've got such mixed emotions... I'm scared, but excited, inspired even! Should I act as a scientist now? Or should I act as a hunter who is facing unknown enemies? I feel like someone's herding me somewhere... but where? To the underground... I feel like I'm being invited." While he was playing the message, a Pan Arms jumped out behind him. By the time he registered the contact on his radar, the monster's energy beam had already fired. The armor on his back seared away and he was propelled into a door. It automatically opened but he could not tell what was behind it, for his radar had been shorted out. Various other systems had been damaged, including speech and movement controls. Pan Arms split up, each half coming at him. Stormsworder heard the sounds of Photon bullets flying over his head. The unmistakable sound of a Zonde hitting a target came from behind him. Soon, the two creatures were killed their death cries echoing throughout the room. "Elenor, check on the android," said a male voice. Stormsworder saw a FOnewm run past him. The Force had a weird hat with goggles and was wearing red and white clothes. The section ID was Yellowboze. His partner ran over to him, but the android could not see what she was doing. "He's pretty bad, internal systems are severely damaged. Power is draining from damaged wires. We need to bring him to the ship," said Elenor. He was picked up off the ground and brought over to the Force. As he opened a Telepipe, he deactivated. And, for the first time in nine years, he had a dream.

Pioneer 2, Near the Check Room
Principle Tyrell's secretary, Irene, stepped out of the teleporter to her boss's office. She saw a Telepipe open and watched as Dr. Montague and his assistant android, Elenor, stepped out of the Telepipe. In between them was a familiar looking HUcast. Oh no, she thought, Stormsworder. The three of them walked away, heading for the Yellowboze section. Irene quickly re-entered the teleporter and walked toward the Principle. He looked very aggravated at her return. "Irene, I told you to-" She cut him off quickly. "Sir, the HUcast unit known has Stormsworder has been severely damaged. Dr. Montague and Elenor took him somewhere, but I'm not sure where sir." The Principle looked awestruck. "Find out where he is and how he's doing. Pronto." He ordered. This confused Irene, but she didn't dare let it show. "Yes, sir. I will, sir." She turned and left for the teleporter. Why is he so worried about one HUcast, she wondered. Is there something he hasn't told me?

Chapter 5: Forgotten Past
Stormsworder felt himself floating. He was surrounded by darkness that seemed to press in on him. He felt strange. The hunter looked at his arms. Instead of armor, there was skin. His mind flashed back nine years ago. He was in his house when a red-haired woman entered. It was his girlfriend, Rico Tyrell. "Hey Rick," she said happily, "how's it going?" A smile spread across his weary face. "Just fine. Black Paper hasn't attempted to take my life again, yet." His smile faded as he looked down at the newspaper. "It's Roy, isn't it?" Rick sighed. "Yeah. I never thought that Black Paper would even think of assassinating a military general just to get revenge on what I did." Rick Hunter had uncovered a secret operation to take control of the military on Coral, then the government. It would have gone perfectly if Rick didn't warn Roy Fokker, a General in the army, and one of his best friends. The spy was arrested and Roy privately thanked Rick. Then, three days ago, he was assassinated. One of Black Paper's men tried to take out Rick, but the seasoned hunter had escaped. "You shouldn't have come Rico. I don't want you involved in this. Just because your father is a high ranking government official doesn't mean they won't take you out to get to me." He felt her hand on his shoulder and he looked up. But Rico wasn't smiling. "Rick, I have decided to go aboard the Pioneer 1. It will be a long time until we get to see each other again." Rico began to cry. He held her in his arms as the tears streamed down her face. Then another memory replaced it, the day of the launch. He said good-bye to his friends and turned to Rico. "So, I guess this is good-bye for now," Rick said, "but we will see each other again." It wasn't a question; it was a promise. She nodded as tears trickled down her face. "I know. It would have been great if you could have come with us." Unbelievably, a smile spread across his face. "If I went with you, who would protect the people of Pioneer 2 when they set off?" Rico smiled. "Stop acting like you and me are the only hunters on this planet." He chuckled. "Alright. I will if you want me to. Of course, we are the only experienced hunters around." She was about to reply when the PA system came on. "Pioneer 1 crewmen, please report to the main docking bay. Launch in t-minus ten minutes and counting." Rick put his arm around Rico. "I guess it's almost time, huh?" She turned to him and began to cry again. She wrapped her arms around him tightly, and he did the same. Rick felt the sting of tears as he held her close to him. He wanted this moment to last forever, but he knew she had to leave. As she stepped away from him, she looked up and smiled. "Rick, I love you." He replied, "I love you too, Rico." He watched as she and all the other hunters and crew boarded the ship. Rick left the docking bay and entered the main lobby, walking over to one of the windows. Hundreds of other people crowded around him, eager to watch the launch. Pioneer 1 slowly pulled out of the dock. When it was clear of the station, the colony ship jumped into hyperspace. Rick looked toward his left and spotted Rico's father. He looked out the window, pain and guilt in his eyes. Rico had told Rick about the argument she had with him. Deep inside him, he felt anger. Anger directed toward her father for what he had done. Rick returned to the surface and never spoke with Mr. Tyrell again. Five days later, Black Paper attacked. They torched his house and had almost died when a RAcast had rescued him. In order to save Rick's life, his mind was transplanted into a HUcast body. But for some reason, he forgot about everything that happened before the transplant. Rick Hunter was now Stormsworder.

Pioneer 2: Dr. Montague's Lab
Stormsworder reactivated and looked around. A RAcast, RAcaseal, and FOnewm were standing around him. He pushed himself off the table. "I was wondering when you would wake up." Stormsworder looked at the speaker. "Omega Prime?" He chuckled. "I thought you had forgotten me." Stormsworder shook his head. "How could I forget you? You saved my life back then." Omega Prime was surprised. How could he remember something that he was supposed to forget? He knew that a member of Black Paper had reprogrammed his memories to forget about the past. It seemed that Montague was right. When Stormsworder was ready to go through the process of becoming a human once again, he would remember his life before the fire that robbed him of his humanity. "Now that's twice I owe you. But why are you so surprised?" Prime broke out of his trance and answered, "It's been nine years. Even I had almost forgotten. Storm, I have something to tell you. Doctor Montague here has developed the process of turning androids into humans. After you finish with the caves, I'm sure he would be glad to perform the process. Right?" The force nodded. "Thank you. So, tell me, who is the Ranger?" The pink RAcaseal giggled. "My name's Elenor. I was created by the doctor." Stormsworder turned to Omega Prime. "Are you going to come to the caves with me?" Instead, the doctor answered. "No, I will. Dr. Osto created a creature that escaped into the underground water channel. I wish to see it, and, if I have to, exterminate it. Elenor will accompany us." She nodded. "Ready to go?" asked Montague. The android turned to him. "Yes. Let's go."

Chapter 6: From Seeing the Rough Wave
Planet Ragol: Caves: Central Dome Area
The room was the same as they had left it. Nothing jumped out at them as they walked on. It wasn't long before they found a teleporter and a capsule. "I saw it with my own eyes. An animal metamorphosed when it was pierced by a tentacle from that giant worm. Were the monsters in the cave all changed by that giant worm?" Montague looked at Elenor. "Not good," he said. "What?" asked Stormsworder. "The subject was a worm-like creature. It may be the cause of the DNA alteration. If that's so, then we will definitely have to exterminate it." Stormsworder was still confused. "If the subject escaped into the ocean, then all the native creatures could be transformed. Not only that, but it would be dangerous for anyone to live on the surface. They could be mutated into horrible monsters." That was enough for the android. The three of them stepped into the large teleporter.

Planet Ragol: Underground Channel: Central Dome Main Water Channel
They looked around, the small raft rumbling as the engine started up. "Um, guys?" They turned. "What?" Their question was answered as a giant worm-like creature broke through the water and began to swim alongside the raft. "Look out!" yelled Elenor as she pushed the doctor to the ground and crouched. Spheres of energy came at them. Stormsworder blocked them with his shield and the others passed over Montague and Elenor. Elenor fired the Laser and sent three bullets to Dal Ral Lie's head. The doctor cast a Rafoie that sizzled the armor, but did little else. "If that won't work," he muttered, "then how about this." He concentrated hard and launched Grants. Dal Ral Lie cried out in pain. Stormsworder drew the Inferno Bazooka he had found and fired. The worm latched onto the raft and gives the hunter a chance to use his Stag Cutlery. One of the tentacles aims at Stormsworder and strikes the space where he once stood. The mask breaks and Dal Ral Lie retreats. The android decelerates just as the lights go out. "Asparas has detected an energy spike within Dal Ral Lie. Be careful." It rises up behind the raft and fires a beam of energy. Stormsworder tackles Elenor to the ground as the beam races toward her. As it charged up once again, he entered Acceleration Mode, had Asparas attach to him, and leaped into the air onto Dal Ral Lie's head. He lifted the Stag Cutlery into the air and drove it into the mutant's skull before decelerating. The android withdrew the weapon and leaped onto the raft. The beast's scream echoes off the walls as it sinks back into the murky water. The raft goes through a pair of double doors and stops at a platform. "Wow, thanks Storm. You saved us," said Elenor. "No problem. Now, let's go." He was ready to go to become a human.

Pioneer 2: Near the Surface Teleporter
Principle Tyrell waited for Stormsworder to exit the teleporter. Omega Prime had told him of the android's decision and he wished to speak with him. Tyrell wasn't angry. He just wanted to talk. Dr. Montague and Elenor left as Stormsworder walked toward him. "Come, Stormsworder," he ordered. The Principle led the way to his office, which was empty of his secretary and scientists. Tyrell sat down and looked at the hunter. "I have heard that you discovered the source of the mutations and eliminated it. I congratulate you." Stormsworder stood at attention. "Thank you, sir." Tyrell decided to get right to the point. "I have heard that you wish to go through the process of becoming a human. I guess you can say that I agree with that decision." He bit his lip. "I know... I made a stupid decision long ago. I want to forgive Rico for what I had done, but..." Tyrell couldn't continue. "When the process his over, return here for your next mission." He sighed, "That's is all." The HUcast saluted and left. Tyrell leaned back and rubbed his temple. Was he ready to see a constant reminder of his daughter and the mistake he made? He was left to his thoughts as Stormsworder headed for the Yellowboze section. Dr. Montague had just walked out of his lab's door when he spotted the android. "Ah, there you are, Stormsworder. I just need you to fill out this form and come with me." When he was done, he gave the doctor the papers and was led into a room with a chair like the one in a dentist's office. Stormsworder lied back and Montague deactivated him.

Chapter 7: The Return of Rick Hunter
Once again, Stormsworder found himself floating. He felt a dark presence around him, and it was hungry. Not for food, but for freedom. It was yearning for it. It was attempting to escape from its cursed prison of ancient times long past. It wanted to evolve, to destroy all in its path. And then he heard a familiar voice. One he had not heard in years. "Rick. Please... help me." There was pain in her voice. Something's hurting her, he thought angrily. "An ancient evil has taken control of my body. The pain is horrible. I can feel it twisting and transforming my body into its own. Please, defeat this monster and free me from its grasp." Rick was confused, but he was determined to help. "How? What do I do? What can I do?" Rico sounded relieved, but still in pain. "Deep inside the ancient ruins, the monster waits. You have to kill it to free me. I'm getting weaker, but I will fight it as long as possible. Rick, please do not tell anyone of what I have just told you. Not even my father. A follower of this monster is hiding, waiting for his chance to take you out. Be careful." Who was the follower, he thought. "Wait! Can you tell me who the follower is?" It was a second before she answered. "The follower... the follower is..." She screamed in pain and Rick woke up.

Pioneer 2: Dr. Montague's Lab
"Rico!" he yelled and sat up. "Whoa, calm down Rick, calm down. It was just a bad dream." He looked around, still gasping for breath. Dr. Montague was standing over him and Omega Prime, accompanied by Elenor, had just entered. The red, white, and blue RAcast ran over to him. "Hey, what happened?" Rick remembered what Rico said. "Nothing, it was just a bad dream. A really bad dream." His chest was still slick with sweat. "Well, in case you haven't noticed, the process was a complete success." Montague handed him a t-shirt and jeans. "When your done dressing, I suggest you go see the Principle. He just sent us a message. He wanted you to go see him immediately after the process." Rick laughed. "I know. He bugged me about it before the process." He looked around. "Do you have any boots around here? Black, size twelve?" Everyone laughed. "I actually do. I'll go get them for you. Come on guys, let's go." They left and Rick got dressed. Dr. Montague brought him his boots and he left. "Oh, yeah. I forgot to say thanks Doc. I owe you one." The Force shook his head. "It was no problem at all, Rick. It was actually Tyrell who wanted me to create this process. But don't tell him I told you." The hunter laughed. "No problem. I can keep a secret." He left and headed for Tyrell's office. He spotted a group of girls staring at him. Great, just like old times. The girls were attracted to his brown hair and light gray eyes. Rick's mind wandered back to Rico's message. Why had she not wanted to tell her father? What was this monster that controlled her? Or better yet, who was the follower? He had a feeling that he would soon find out.

Pioneer 2: Principle Tyrell's Office
Rick Hunter walked up to the Principle's desk. Tyrell was still alone in his room. "Welcome back, Rick! It's been a long time. I guess you can say that I'm at a loss for words. You look like you did nine years ago. But enough about that. I'm sure that you are eager to continue your search. We found what we think is a mine created by Pioneer 1. There may be survivors there." He reached under his desk and took out a blade. "This is the Lavis Cannon. It is possibly the most powerful sword in existence. It was mine, but I think that you can put it to better use than I can." Rick accepted the sword and was about to put it in his inventory, when he remembered he didn't have a storage unit. "Don't worry. I was digging through some items that I saved and I found this." He handed him a familiar looking storage unit. "Wait, this is... This is the unit that I used back on Coral." Tyrell smiled. "I knew you would recognize it. I saved it, always thinking that we could find some way to bring you back. Guess I was right." Rick stared at it. I wonder if it still has that picture. He put it on his arm and looked pressed a button. A picture of him and Rico showed up, their mags floating behind them. He remembered that day so well. He pressed the button again and the image disappeared. "Thank you, sir." Tyrell closed his eyes. "Rick, please find my daughter. Not just for me, but for everyone aboard this ship." He smiled. "I will, sir." He left and headed for the teleporter. "Hey Rick!" A HUnewearl ran towards him, waving her hand in the air. "Kroe?" She stopped in front of him, breathless. "The Doc asked me to bring this to you. He said that you didn't have anything to store your weapons in, so he put them in here." It was a storage unit, and a new one at that. "Well, I already have one, but I need to transfer my things into this one." Rick began to transfer his items, while Kroe looked on. "What's the matter?" The young girl sighed. "It's nothing. I'm just worried about Black Paper coming after Anna again." So that was what the problem was. When the transfer was complete, he handed her the unit. "Don't worry. If anything happens, contact me and I'll be right there." This cheered her up. "Thank you. It's been hard for Anna and me, so it's nice to have some help." Rick smiled back. "It's not a problem. I'm glad to help people." Kroe ran off and he headed for the teleporter. But first, he accessed his unit and put on his armor. It was all blue and very durable. He took a deep breath and stepped into the teleporter.

Chapter 8: Empty Space Out of Control
Planet Ragol: Mines: Level 1
Rick readied his Vulcans as he studied the room. A service robot was going haywire, flying around the room. In the next room, a group of Gillchichs activated. Wait a sec, he thought, those are Pioneer 1 construction robots, but they have been upgraded way beyond what they were supposed to be. These things are war machines now. A laser bolt went flying past his head. A near miss. That was too close, he thought. The Dragon Slayer cut through the Gillchichs' armor and detached the torso from the rest of the body. An even larger group appeared and closed in. He waited until they grouped together and launched a Rafoie into the middle of the group. Hunks of metal landed all over the place. He spotted a capsule and played the message. "Is this... Is this where the missing material from Pioneer 1 was used...? Why did they dig a tunnel all the way down here? And why didn't they say anything about it to the citizens?" Rick heard footsteps behind him. He hid behind a wall and quietly drew the Bravace. When they drew near, he moved away from the wall and pointed his pistol at a RAmarl. She also had a Bravace out, and she was pointing it right at him. Slowly, she lowered her weapon. "Who are you?" she asked. He too slowly lowered his weapon. "Rick Hunter. And just who are you?" The RAmarl had short brown hair, wore a pair of yellow sunglasses, and was clad in white and black armor. "Vanessa Schneider, military specialist aboard Pioneer 2. I was sent by Omega Prime to aid you in your exploration of the mines." A military specialist, eh? That explains a lot, he thought. "Sorry about that little accident," he said as he holstered the Bravace. "Ha, you still use one of those?" she asked, looking at his hip holster. Rick didn't answer her. Instead, he turned to the door. "This is new," she remarked. "I've never met anyone who didn't start an argument with me over something stupid like a hip holster." They walked on, not speaking to each other. In the next room, a group of Canabins, led by a Canune, attacked. Two Canabins floated forward and targeted them. Instead of shooting the attackers, Rick aimed for the leader. With it destroyed, the rest of the machines self-destructed. A shadow appeared on the ground. They looked up and spotted a Sinow Blue, just as it dropped to the ground. It leaped towards Vanessa, it's energy blade extended. She swiftly dodged it, turned around, and blasted the robot with her Twin Psychogun. "Behind you," she said. The Lavis Cannon whipped around and cut off a Sinow Red's head. "Not bad. Not bad at all. I guess you aren't as green as the rest of them." Rick drew the Bravace and sent three rounds past Vanessa. The Sinow Red fell backwards, three bullets in the center of its head. She was awestruck. All he did was chuckle and walk away. There was a capsule in this room, which he activated and listened to. "I'm attacked by robots this time? What are they?! They were customized robots originally for industrial use. ...Who did this? I can understand animals being metamorphosed by a crustacean into mutants, but... These are robots. Somebody modified them. Was it done by someone from Pioneer 1?" Rick turned to his partner. She looked puzzled. If there were survivors, then why would they modify the robots? They continued on through the mines. They fought together, their friendship growing with each passing moment. Right before the teleporter, they found another capsule. "I heard a rumor that the government was building a secret underground factory. Were the robots manufactured in that secret factory? Or was that factory a decoy? The government was developing another project behind it? Information is always controlled by the government. We don't know the truth at all. We hunters are always used by the government. We're just tools to them." Vanessa sighed. "She does have a point there. We are just tools to them. It would also make sense that the government created a decoy factory to hide another project." Rick looked at her. "How would you know what the government is up to?" She shrugged. "I have my ways. Let's hurry up and go. We have a mission to do." Now Rick was confused. This Ranger was hard to understand. Oh well, it could be worse, he reminded himself. Together, they entered the teleporter.

Planet Ragol: Mines: Level 2
"These mines are a mess," said Vanessa. She was right. Electronics were destroyed and pieces of debris littered the area. On this level, a new enemy attacked them. The Dubchichs were seemingly invincible. They continued to re-attach the damaged parts until Rick spotted a service unit and destroyed it. A few minutes later, a humongous machine appeared behind Rick. "Get down!" ordered Vanessa. He hit the deck just as she pulled the trigger on her Twin Psychogun. Bullet after bullet pounded into the Baranz. It didn't even manage to launch its homing missiles. "Behind you!" yelled Rick. She spun around and saw the incoming missiles. Rick got to his feet, drew his Vulcan, and pumped the machine full of Photons. As the missiles closed in, Vanessa dodged them lightning quick. They crashed into the ground and exploded. "That's some heavy artillery to keep down here in a mine. What were they doing, planning for an invasion?" He shook his head. "I really don't know." In a small side room, they found a monument like the ones in the cave and forest. Computers were all around the strange pillar. "Looks like they were studying this, but why?" asked Vanessa. Rick touched the pillar and it began to glow. There was a capsule next to it. "Maybe we'll find some answers," he muttered. "Here, I found the third one. Will it fit together when all the parts are combined? `Light, darkness, pair, exist, unlimited, rule, seal...` I can make out each word, but I still don't understand the meaning of the whole thing." The hunter shook his head. Just more questions with no answers. "Well, guess we should continue on. Maybe we can find something deeper in the mines." Vanessa suddenly grew excited. "There is a military artificial intelligence here. Two, actually. If we can find Calus or Vol Opt, then we can discover what happened here and if there are any survivors." Perfect. "Great idea. Do you know where they are?" The Ranger shook her head. "Vol Opt controls mining operations and security. Calus, I'm not sure about. We should find Vol Opt in the monitor room below here." They left and searched for a way to the monitor room. It was awhile before they found the teleporter. "You ready?" asked Rick. She nodded, fixing her sunglasses. "Now let's hope that something hasn't happened to the A.I.," joked Vanessa. "Yeah. Let's hope it hasn't gone haywire and tries to kill us."

Chapter 9: The Crazy Program
Planet Ragol: Mines: Monitor Room
The walls of the circular room were crammed with monitors. The two of them walked forward until all of the monitors went off. Vanessa walked over to one of the terminals and began to press keys. There was no response. "Vol Opt? Are you here?" She turned to him. This wasn't good. There was no way out of this room. They were trapped. Suddenly, an alarm klaxon began to go off as red alert lights lit up, along with all the monitors. Vol Opt ver. 2's "physical" form began to circle the area. It stopped on Vanessa's right and disappeared. Strange totems rose up and one of them began to glow red. A powerful Foie was launched and hit Rick in the chest, propelling him backwards into one of the monitors. His armor was scorched, but the attack did not burn through it. His teammate was dodging attacks and firing at Vol Opt as it appeared in the screens. Rick got to his feet and picked up his Lavis Cannon. The totems rose again and the hunter charged the glowing one. It was cut in half, followed by the one next to it. Vol Opt ver. 2 returned, floating through the screens that weren't destroyed. Vulcans pointed at two separate monitors, Rick opened fire. A shard of glass cut into his face, stopping the attack. There was only one screen left, which was soon destroyed by a barrage of bullets. "Rick, concentrate on the totem that is about to attack first. I'll handle the others." He had managed to pull out the shard that had stuck in his face and nodded. There was only four totems left, and Vanessa destroyed two of them with her Twin Psychogun. The Lavis Cannon cut into the one that was about to attack, destroying it. Spinning around, he managed to launch a Foie at the final totem. Explosions rocked the room as Vol Opt ver. 2's body lowered into the room. The missile launcher targeted him a fired three rounds. The Bravace shot down all three missiles and was holstered as the Hunter took out the Lavis and cut into the launcher. With that weapon disabled, Vol Opt spun around to face Vanessa. It targeted her and began to drop spikes on her. She easily dodged each one and retaliated with her Meteor Smash. She never told me she had that, thought Rick as he continued to attack. This time, his target was the repair device. The machine launched an energy sphere that trapped him behind a wall of rocks. It immobilized him so that he couldn't break free. "A little help here?!" yelled Rick. The Ranger ran over to him and destroyed the rocks with the Meteor Smash. An array of laser fired at the space he had just occupied. Those would have surely killed him. Angry at the machine, Rick drew his Dragon Slayer and impaled it right into Vol Opt ver. 2's body. Internal explosions could be heard as he withdrew the sword. The machine rose into the air before exploding. Chunks of debris rained down on them, the victors. Vanessa took out a first aid kit and treated the wound on his face. The shard had cut in deep, and in the worst place possible. He winced as she cleaned the wound before putting a bandage on. A warp was in the middle of the room instead of a teleporter to Pioneer 2. They stepped into it, unaware of what they would find.

Planet Ragol: Mines: Unknown Area
The two hunters found themselves in an area totally different from the rest of the mines. The walls of the tunnel they were in weren't metal, but dirt. Ahead of them was a gigantic wall made of a strange metal they had never seen before. Rick spotted three capsules and activated the one nearest to them. "I can now say there was an ancient civilization on this planet. Ruins buried in the ground. This is the evidence. The government was about to secretly conduct an excavation to study the ruins." That would explain all the containers and equipment in the area. But why have an army of robots guard the entrance? Unless there was something the government was afraid of. Something that posed a potential threat if it escaped. They walked over to the next capsule. "No intelligent life was discovered when Pioneer 1 landed here? Something else must have caused the destruction of the ancient civilization. What happened on Ragol in the past?" The final capsule was right next to the entrance to the ruins. "I'm not liking this at all," muttered Vanessa. "This is too creepy. A government conspiracy on this scale is something I really don't like." She sighed. "If the robots were defending this place, I'm not sure I want to enter. An army of that size must mean that it is extremely dangerous in there," she said, indicating to the entrance. "I personally think we should go get some back-up before entering." Rick nodded. "We will. But first, let's listen to this last message." Vanessa looked embarrassed. "Right. Sorry." As they walked over to the capsule, they could feel an evil emanating from the entrance. This worried Rick. It's the same evil I felt before, he thought. The same evil that has Rico trapped. He focused on the capsule. "The government was decoding the characters as well. Here is their analysis. I'll try to fill in the gaps with my own data. `Light, darkness, ...a pair, no, ...exist, no exist... unlimited, seal, ...MUUT DITTS POUMN.`...? What's the last line? An incantation? Seal, seal... What is sealed? Where? Is it this door? Was it sealed with the words, MUUT DITTS POUMN? Maybe each word in the incantation represents something? I found three monuments... Are they keys to open the door?" Wait? Three monuments? Oh no, he thought. I opened the door. Whatever is sealed in here may escape because of me. I have to do something. "Vanessa. We are returning to the ship. I want you to round up as many of your friends as possible. We are going to enter these ruins, and we'll need all the help we can get." She nodded. "Affirmative. Anything else?" He nodded. "Get as many supplies as you can hold. Since this may be the final battle, we need loads of supplies." The room fell silent. "Let's go Vanessa. We have a job to do."

Pioneer 2: Near the Hunter's Guild
A young girl walked towards the Hunter's Guild. She had brown hair worn in a ponytail and had on the green camouflage fatigues of a RAmarl. She was Danielle, a young Ranger who was orphaned when Black Paper assassinated her parents. Now, she was seeking revenge. A few minutes ago, Danielle received a message from another RAmarl named Vanessa. She had asked for the girl's help in exploring the ruins that were found. A group of hunters were gathered in the Guild. Anna and Kroe, two of her best friends, were there. A red, white, and blue RAcast was busy talking to a HUmar. That must be Rick, she thought. Vanessa was leaning against a wall, not talking to anyone. The room fell quiet as Danielle entered. "You must be Danielle," said the HUmar. She nodded. "I am Rick Hunter. This android is Omega Prime. The other RAmarl is Vanessa Schneider. I assume you have met Anna and Kroe before?" The RAmarl nodded again. "Now that we all know each other, I think we should review our objectives. Enter the ruins, search for survivors, and destroy whatever is sealed in there before it escapes. Any questions?" Anna spoke up. "Do we know what we are facing in there?" The Hunter shook his head. "Everyone the military has sent has never been heard from again. I'm guessing they were killed by the monsters in there." Closing his eyes, he said, "This is it, the final battle. We have to be extremely careful. I don't know what that thing is that is sealed in there, but if we wait any longer, it may escape and destroy everything in its path, including Pioneer 2 and everyone aboard." Vanessa straightened up. "If this thing is that bad, then let's go already." Everyone nodded. "OK, let's go."

Chapter 10: Revolution to the Origin
Planet Ragol: Ruins: Level 1
The ruins were exactly that, ruins. Pieces of debris littered the area. The first room was empty, until a group of monsters appeared. They were like nothing Rick had ever seen. The Arlans had Photon claws and were incredibly fast. Even faster were the Merlans. Delsabers had a Photon sword on their right arms and a claw on their left. Gran Sorcerers could cast Grants and Megid, the most advanced techniques ever known. Danielle fired her Laser and took of the head of a Delsaber. The twins had different weapons. Anna had a Ripper and Kroe had a Diska. Rick's long time friend, Omega Prime, blasted away three Arlans with a Panzerfaust while Rick killed a Gran Sorcerer with the Lavis Cannon. The monsters came at them like soldiers, but were easily killed. When the room was clear, they found a capsule by a door. "Why am I here, with monsters lurking everywhere? Did the army even stand a chance against them?" Down a corridor, the team entered a room with wreckage. By another capsule were the bodies of the men the military had sent to investigate. They were mutilated; Photon wounds covering their entire bodies. Rick crouched by one and checked for dog tags. Someone had taken them. Since the capsule was right next to the corpses, he could easily reach over and activate it. "Wreckage...! These weapons are from Pioneer 1. They must have already entered the ruins, and from the look of things, fighting went on. Seems our army was hurt badly." With one final look at the poor souls who were killed, Rick rose and turned to the others. "They must have made it past the first room. Whatever killed them is in this room." As soon as he finished speaking, more strange monsters appeared. The Claws thought they could kill them like they had killed the others. They were wrong. Vanessa took out her Ruby Bullet and covered the twins, who were attacking one group of Claws. Danielle slashed one of the monsters apart with a katana, the Agito. It was strange for a Ranger to carry this, since they were long-range specialists. Another Claw was cut to pieces, and another. She was joined by Rick and his Lavis. Together, the two of them took out the entire second group. The doors unlocked and the team regrouped. The monsters guarded the rooms fiercely. When the hunters reached a room with a large window, they took a short break. Rick and Danielle walked over to the window to see what was out there and listen to the capsule. "I can see a distant view through this window" The `ruins` are huge. I would never have imagined such a great civilization..." She was right. The ruins were huge. It looked like an entire city out there. The HUmar turned to Danielle. "So tell me, why are you a Ranger at such a young age." The girl looked down. "My parents were killed by Black Paper. The people who raised me were hunters. They trained me until they too were killed. Since then, I have searched out members of that cursed organization and brought them to justice." Tears trickled down her face. Rick put a hand on her shoulder. "Black Paper killed my friends and parents, too. I did the same thing as you. But when I met Rico, I changed." He paused. "Maybe when this is done, you can come live with me. I can help you out and give you training." The tears stopped as she looked up at him. "Really?" The HUmar nodded. "Really." He looked back at the others and saw that they were ready. Very powerful creatures appeared in the next room. The Indi Belras could fire off their arms at machine gun speed. The two HUnewearls went after the one on the left. Omega Prime and Rick attacked the center one while Vanessa and Danielle attacked the one on the right. The Belras were very strong and could take much damage. It was awhile before they were all killed. They turned to dust, just like all the rest of the Dark-type creatures. There was a giant hole in the room. Water cascaded down and there was a capsule near it. "What is this big hole? It looks like... remnants of some type of energy explosion. ...Energy...? Was the Central Dome destroyed by this!?" They continued to fight wave after wave of monsters until they reached the teleporter. The team was exhausted by then. There was another capsule in the area, right next to a monument. "Those strange characters were found here and there. I think I have enough samples to decipher the meaning of the monument. `Light makes darkness, a pair exists, but it doesn't always exist. Reincarnation goes forever. The rule is here. It should be sealed. MUUT DITTS POUMN`... Does it make sense? I wish I had enough time to study these unknown characters." The message is still confusing, thought Rick. I just don't understand it. The group turned and entered the teleporter to the next area.

Planet Ragol: Ruins: Engine Room Area
Two new enemies made an appearance in this area. The Dark Gunners attacked them in the first room where they had found a capsule. It was in that room that they learned they were in a giant spaceship. Afterwards, they had found another capsule. Rico told them that the ship was a casket that was sealing something inside to remain buried. Not only that, but they, no, Rick, had opened the forbidden door. It was in the engine room that a horse-like monster charged them, almost trampling Kroe. The Dark Bringer turned to them and began to charge. Rick and Danielle dodged the attack, spun around, and blasted the creature with bullets from both of their Vulcans. Blood poured from its wounds before turning to dust. The eight Arlans that appeared turned towards the hunters. Kroe's Disk cut off the arms of two of the creatures and the leg of another. Both Prime and Vanessa covered the others with their Panzerfaust and Twin Psychogun. The Photon gauge on Danielle's Vulcans ran out right when a Dark Bringer charged. She was thrown to the ground as Rick tackled her. The Dark Bringer was about to turn when Anna jumped on its back and impaled the Ripper into its head. Claws came next. The team took them out with ease, but had problems with the Dark Gunners. Omega Prime discovered that when they kill a Death Gunner, the others freeze up. Using that tactic, the Gunners were taken out with techniques and weapons fire. A Delsaber leaped into the air at the group. Rick countered with the Lavis. The two blades met and a fierce battle began. The blade pushed toward Rick, then the Delsaber. All of the other hunters were fighting off the rest of the enemies, leaving the HUmar to face this foe alone. He pushed his blade upward and knocked the Delsaber off balance. The Lavis came around and sliced the monster into two. It dusted, just as another Delsaber raked Anna's arm with its claw. Kroe sent three cutters into its upper chest and dusted it. The team decided to take a break in a room with a monument. Danielle treated the wound on the young HUnewearl's arm, bandaging it up and giving her a Monomate. The other twin was sent to scout ahead and see if it was all clear. The leader crouched near a capsule and replayed the message. "I want to run away! But I have no place to return to... Perhaps no one will ever find this message and listen to it. Ever... Pioneer 2 will not come down when they discover this planet is dangerous. Will somebody from Pioneer 2 still come to save us? Who knows? Regardless, I leave this message here. This is evidence of my existence." As soon as the message finished, Kroe returned. "The teleporter is back that way. It's clear, but who knows? They may come while we are walking through." Rick narrowed his eyes. "Thanks for the thought, Kroe." She froze and discovered what he meant. "Oh, sorry." Thankfully, no monsters attacked them on their way to the teleporter. They stepped in and were sent to the next area.

Chapter 11: The Nearest Place to the Heaven
Planet Ragol: Ruins: Bridge Area
This place was plain out creepy. It smelled like death and decay and the only ones who could stand it were Omega Prime, Vanessa and Danielle. The first room was inhabited by Del-Ds and Merlans. The monsters fought harder than ever. They were guarding something. This made Rick think that the monsters were put here as guardians to stop the monster. Anna dusted the nearest Del-D and sent a kick to a Merlan's head. It flew back and landed on a jagged piece of debris, killing it instantly. Vanessa leaped over one of the monsters and impaled it with a Gladius. Prime blew away two more and the room was finally clear. By a monument was a capsule. "Man, how many of these are there?" asked Vanessa. Rick shot her an angry glance before replaying the message. "Dark Falz! That's the name. The god of destruction that revives in the millennial cycle. Perhaps this entity encountered a civilization thousands of years ago. They could not defeat it, but managed to seal it in this gigantic spaceship. They abandoned it somewhere far from their planet. It was this place, Ragol. We've come to a terrible place at the worst possible time..." Rick turned to the others and saw they were shocked. They knew this thing was powerful, but they didn't know that it was a god. They proceeded deeper, fighting off waves of Dark creatures. The deeper they went, the more enemies there were, fighting like soldiers ordered into battle. They found another capsule near a monument. "Don't let it come in! The dark consciousness looks for the best animal to obtain its temporal host body." Great, Rick thought, this thing could possess people. In one room, almost every type of enemy attacked. It was a fierce battle, the monsters finally giving up after what felt like hours of intense fighting. There was a really long hallway through the only door in the room. He could feel the evil from the other side. It was incredibly powerful. They continued on into a room with a monument, a capsule, and banks of computers lining the walls. "The door is already open. We opened it. This may be the beginning of the end for the universe. We have to do something... We must do it. We must defeat it now! Defeat it before that dark `thing` revives with the perfect body." So then, the time had come. Past the room before them was the way to the monster. They stepped through the door into a room that must have been the ship's bridge. Every single enemy attacked. Anna ripped into a Del-D while her sister dealt with the Claws. The giant Bulclaws were always targeted first, along with Gran Sorcerers, Indi Belras, Dark Bringers, and Delsabers. Danielle impaled the Agito into a Merlan before cutting a Delsaber in half. Together, the hunters beat back the enemies until there was none left. Through the middle door was the teleporter. It was set for an unknown location inside the ship. This was it, the final battle. Rick felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Kroe's. "We're right behind you Rick." He nodded as they stepped into the teleporter. It was time to end this nightmare, once and for all.

Planet Ragol: Ruins: ???
The moon seemed to illuminate the large monument ahead of them as a soft breeze blew across the mysterious area. The hunters proceeded forward, searching the area for any signs of life. Rick held up his hand and ordered them to halt. Bravace in hand, he walked up the steps to the monument. He could see faint traces of the characters that were once engraved upon its surface. As he reached for it, the ground began to shake. It became more and more violent. It abruptly stopped and the hunters glimpsed a shockwave coming towards them before being knocked to the ground. The grass and monument had disappeared. A circular pit that prevented any access to the other side surrounded the area they were standing in. On the other side was wreckage of Pioneer 1 weapons. The very ground they were standing on had faces in it and he heard the twins scream. He realized with a shock that these were the missing people of Pioneer 1. They quickly got to their feet, just as Darvants rose up from the ground. They defeated a significant number of the creatures before the rest disappeared. There was an organic noise and an almighty roar as the monument reappeared and shattered.
A monster appeared and Rick knew immediately what it was. Dark Falz had risen.

Chapter 12: Pray, for "IDOLA" the Distorted
Planet Ragol: Ruins: ???
The creature had two arms like the right arm of a Dark Bringer. Its head was cross-shaped and it was riding on some sort of "chariot" with three dragon-like heads. Below Dark Falz's head was a human torso. Rick spotted a glint of red on its left arm. Oh my God, he thought, that's Rico. The center chariot head lowered and released a dozen Darvants into the arena. "Anna, Kroe, Danielle, help me with Falz. Prime and Vanessa, take out those Darvants." The girls ran forward and began to attack. Purple blood leaked from its wounds that were made by the hunters. Dark Falz pointed both arms into the sky and launched a beam of energy. It split up and shot back down, heading for all of them. Kroe and Danielle were already moving, and so were the two Rangers behind them. Anna wouldn't be able to move in time, so Rick ran and pushed her under him. Asparas protected its master as the attack hit. He got up and began to attack again. "You dare defy a god? How foolish... You will atone for your incompetence, with your life." Dark Falz aimed its right arm at him and launched Rafoie. The explosion knocked Rick backwards so hard that he was sent flying into Omega Prime. He helped the Ranger back to his feet and went after the monster. "Rick, can you here me?" No way! Rico? "You have to defeat Dark Falz. If you don't, the universe will be doomed." He attacked and was rewarded with a roar of pain. "This thing is about twenty feet tall and has more power than the entire Pioneer 1 military force they sent down here! How am I supposed to beat it?" The two HUnewearls and one RAmarl walked up beside him. "When a head lowers, attack the opening in its mouth. You can also attack the top of its head, where the armor is weakest." Rick turned to the girls and told him his idea. When the center head lowered again, the twins attacked the opening. The head fell limp and did not move. Dark Falz roared and pointed its left arm at him. The Rabarta froze him in place. Vanessa quickly used Anti and fought back three Darvants. They seemed to be appearing from out of nowhere at an alarming rate. Dark Falz wasn't launching the saws. Instead, it was summoning them. "All right girls, on to plan B. You know what to do." Rick ran up to the left head, crouched, and lowered his head. Anna ran up his back and leaped onto the top of the head. She plunged her Rippers into its flesh and was flung off as it shook its head before falling to the ground. Anna landed on her feet and watched as Danielle ran up to the last head. She began to cut into its neck with Agito, each swipe cutting deeper than the last. The RAmarl took out an Elysion, a magical sword. It was impaled deep into the flesh before being pulled out. The monster spread its wings and began to circle the arena. The Darvants continued to appear and Rick feared that the two Rangers would run out of ammo. The hunters attacked the red mass in between Falz's legs. The dark god used the same attacks as before, so the battle was relatively easy. Suddenly, Rick had an idea. "Concentrate on powering up one attack technique and cast it." He felt the space around his left hand heat up. Almost there, he thought. "Now!" he yelled as he thrust his hand at his enemy. "Rafoie!" The twins used Rabarta and Gizonde, while the RAmarl used Rafoie. Dark Falz roared in pain and Rick saw his chance. Both he and Danielle ran forward and impaled their Photon weapons into the red mass. They both heard Rico's next word. "Thank you. Both of you." The two hunters withdrew their weapons and ran away from the falling corpse. It was finally over. "Glad that's over," he said as they turned to the others. "It is just the beginning, humans." Rick and Danielle both spun around to face Dark Falz's body. It transformed and rose into the air. Their bodies were yanked into the air along with it and they landed on a ring shaped platform. The two hunters were now facing Dark Falz alone.

Chapter 13: Cry, for "IDOLA" the Holy
Planet Ragol: Ruins: ???
It had two long wings that reached down below its bladed arms. This form was smaller than before, but no less powerful. Dark Falz brought down it arm and slashed him. The wound began to bleed as he drew his Vulcan and opened fire. The Ranger also drew her Vulcans and aided him. The bullets found their own mark and the monster's own wounds began to bleed. It turned invincible like a Dark Gunner and rose into the air. Dark Falz launched ten homing spheres of energy that the hunters dodged easily. Two Megid orbs came at them, almost hitting Rick and Danielle. It lowered again and pointed an arm at him. He felt strange, but ignored it. The RAmarl pulled the trigger and bullets struck Dark Falz's back. As they struck, he felt a searing hot pain in his back. The girl had spotted him and held her fire. Rick fell to his knees and touched his back. His hand came away covered with blood. Dark Falz flew towards Rick and he saw an image of himself standing in its mouth. "Hold your fire!" Rico yelled to them, "Dark Falz steals your soul and deals damage to it when its body gets hit." The pain sharpened as he got to his feet and ran. He used up his last Trimate as a bladed arm narrowly missed him. Falz rose into the air again as his soul returned. It launched its homing missiles at them again. A single missile hit Danielle in her right leg and she fell to the ground. Her leg was severely burned and she could not move. Falz launched a Grants technique that pierced his armor and made him fall on his injured back. Rick's Lavis Cannon was too far away to use to defend himself with. He closed his eyes as a bladed arm came down and Danielle and Rico screamed his name. It was over. He had failed.

Planet Ragol: Ruins: ???
The clang of Photon blade on Photon blade surprised him. He slowly opened his eyes and saw a figure standing over him. It was a woman with orange hair, a red and white uniform, and red armlet on her left arm. She was using a Red Saber to hold back Dark Falz's arm. "Ri...co?" She smiled at him as Dark Falz drew back its arm. Rico held out her hand and helped Rick to his feet. Blood was trickling down his arm and back as she used Resta on him. "Rico, help Danielle. I'll deal with Falz," he said. Lavis Cannon in hand, he charged the dark god. Danielle was still on the ground, clenching her teeth and willing the pain to go away. The missile had burned through the clothes and armor right to the skin. She doubted that a Trimate would even help stop this pain. The RAmarl looked up and saw Rico running her way. Rick was fighting with Falz and winning. The hunter crouched next to her leg and shook her head. "I don't know if I can heal this, but I'll try." She put both her hands on the leg and focused. Danielle felt the pain go away. Rico took out some bandages and began to wrap the RAmarl's leg. When she was finished, she helped the young girl to her feet. She wobbled unsteadily, but Rico helped her keep her balance. "Just try to cover us with you long-range weapons, okay?" Danielle nodded and drew her Laser. Even though the Ranger was off balance, each bullet hit its target. Rico aided Rick in his attack, using her Red Saber to cut into the dark god. Under this combined assault, Dark Falz began to lose. It closed in on Rick and tried to take him out with one final blow. He sidestepped the attack and thrust the Lavis Cannon deep into Falz's flesh. It backed up and roared. "I will... never be... defeated! I... will have my... revenge!" Its body completely disappeared. Danielle limped over to them and dropped her rifle. "Hey, you okay?" asked Rick. She nodded, picked up the rifle, and stored it. She was pale and shaky, making Rick worried. Rico threw her arms around him and began to cry. "I thought I would never see you again," she sobbed. Rick held her in his arms. "Have you forgotten the promise we made to see each other again?" Rico chuckled. "You're right, I did forget. I just..." Her words were cut off as she gasped. Rick turned and saw Kireek walking towards them. His eyes were black and he carried the Soul Eater in his right hand. "You hurt my master. Now I will kill you," he muttered. Kireek grasped the scythe and charged. Rick used the Lavis Cannon to block the attacks and sent a kick into the android's stomach. He jumped over the human and lifted the Soul Eater in the air, aiming at Rico. He was about to bring the scythe down when Rick turned and impaled the Lavis through Kireek's lower back. The HUmar withdrew it and kicked the android, sending him flying off the platform and into the abyss. He turned to the two girls and was about to say something when they were suddenly transported to the ancient spaceship's engine room. There was a battle under way between a group of hunters and many Dark creatures. The last enemy had fallen by the time Rick, Danielle, and Rico reached the others. Rick briefed the others on Rico's return and Kireek. When he was done, Omega Prime told them what happened while they were fighting Dark Falz. The group had been facing off with hordes of its servants with no way of returning to Pioneer 2. Their radars picked up another contact in the room. Rick turned toward the signal and felt his blood run cold. Kireek was still alive.

Chapter 14: The Demon Rises
Planet Ragol: Ruins: Engine Room
"Get out now," he ordered as he dropped a telepipe. Prime, Anna, Kroe, Vanessa, and Danielle all returned to Pioneer 2, but Rico stayed right where she was. "Go to the ship," Rick said. She shook her head, "No." He turned to her. "Listen to me, Rico. I don't want you to get hurt. Leave here now. I can handle Kireek. Besides, there is someone who wants to see you." A tear trickled down her cheek. "Please Rico, leave here now." She nodded and entered the telepipe. Rick turned to Kireek and saw that he was mutating. Wings burst forth from his back, spikes grew on his forearms, a spike grew from each of his kneecaps, the white lines on his legs and feet turned gold, three spikes grew from each of his shoulders, a tail with a spike on the end grew, and a single spike rose up from his head. He flew into the air and landed a few feet in front of Rick. The androids eyes were crimson red instead of yellow. "Well, well, well. What have we here? I think it's a little hunter trying to prevent the inevitable. You see, Dark Falz isn't a part of me. It is me." Rick was confused. He defeated both Kireek and Falz. How could they still be alive? "You look confused. Let me explain. When you impaled me, it opened a path for Dark Falz to enter my body. It changed it to its liking, making me the most powerful being in the universe. All I have to do is get rid of you and that annoying girl Tyrell. Then, I will rule the universe." Rick readied his blade. "That's not going to happen." Kireek chuckled. "So be it, human. Prepare to meet your fate." The Lavis Cannon and Soul Eater clashed, sending sparks everywhere. Rick slashed at Kireek's torso and left a long gash in his armor. A purple fluid began to leak from the gash and it closed up. He kicked the HUmar so hard that he flew pretty far back. The hunter drew his Vulcans and opened fire. His adversary simply walked through the bullets, barely even flinching as they impacted on his armor. The Vulcan's Photon gauge ran dry and he swapped his guns for the Cannon. Kireek raised the scythe in the air and he saw his chance. As it came down, he kicked the Soul Eater out of the android's hand and into the pit below. "NO!" he yelled. Kireek grabbed the human's arm and snapped it. Rick screamed in pain as the bones broke. The hunter fell to the ground, clutching his broken arm. Kireek grasped him by his throat and lifted him into the air. He studied the struggling hunter with amusement. "I think that now would be a good time to mention that it was I who killed Fokker. It was quite fun. I enjoyed killing the little girl's parents even more. Now, I will take the greatest pleasure in crushing your pitiful body to pieces." The hand gripped tighter. Suddenly, Kireek screamed in pain. He dropped Rick as he looked down. A Red Saber was sticking through his armor. Rico pulled it out and Kireek staggered. "Curse you Tyrell! You're a fool, just like your mother. You'll end up like she did one day!" He disappeared and Rico ran towards the fallen hunter. He had lost consciousness, so she put his arm around her and carried him to the telepipe.

Pioneer 2: Medical Center
Rick heard voices around him. He slowly opened his eyes and saw the faces of Rico and Principle Tyrell. "Where am I?" he muttered. "In the Medical Center," replied Rico. "I brought you to Pioneer 2 after you lost consciousness. The doctors say that you have a broken arm , but it's not as serious as Danielle's." Rick sat up. "Where is she and how is she doing?" Rico shook her head. "They took her to intensive care to treat her leg. It's pretty bad. If it weren't for the armor, then her leg would have been lost. She will be in the hospital for a while. Other than that she's okay." Principle Tyrell looked at him. "I don't know how to thank you for all you have done, Rick. You saved my daughter and the universe from that terrible monster. How can I ever repay you?" The hunter smiled. "No need to repay me sir. Not yet, anyway. I'm going to visit Danielle. Want to come?" The Principle shook his head. "I need to get back to my office and finish some work." He walked off and the hunter got out of bed. His arm was in a splint, but it didn't hurt too bad. A doctor escorted them to Danielle's room and let them in. She was sleeping peacefully with her leg in a cast. The closing of the door awoke her and she looked at them. "Hey Rick, Rico," she said weakly. "Glad to see you again." Rico sat down next to her and Rick pulled up a chair. "How you feeling?" he asked. "Miserable, bored, and my leg hurts every now and then. Doctors said I have a fever and cold, which I had caught just before the trip to the ruins." She tried to push herself up, but she couldn't. "The weird thing is that I'm really weak, which isn't natural. Can barely do anything anymore. Just want to get out of here, even though I don't have a home to go to." A tear trickled own her cheek. Rick smiled at her. "Like I said in the ruins, you can come and live with me. Rico will be with us too, right?" She rolled her eyes. "Of course. Where did you expect me to live?" The young girl brightened up considerably. "When can I go?" Rick pretended to think. "Right after the doctors say you can leave. Shouldn't be that long." Rico put a hand on her arm and smiled. "For now, I think you should just rest." Danielle nodded and closed her eyes. Her visitors got up and left the room. The Ranger smiled as she imagined living with someone who was like family to her. "This is the best day in my life," she whispered.