Chapter 12: Black Paper

Pioneer 2

  "She will wake up, I know it," a female voice said, bringing Danielle out of her unconscious state. Instead of waking up, she listened to the conversation.

  "This child has been comatose for three days straight! She should have awoken long ago," a man shot back.

  "Trust me on this, doctor. She will snap out of it. We just need to give her a bit more time," the female pleaded.

  "Fine, but I'm telling you, she's not going to wake up." There were footsteps and the sound of a door opening and closing. Someone placed their hand on Danielle's right arm as memories of what had happened flashed through her mind. The arrival at Ragol, the fight through the ruins, and the battle with Dark Falz all came rushing back. The RAmarl opened her eyes, blinking slowly as she looked around. She was in a hospital room, and someone was sitting by her. They were lying their head down on their arms, and looked like they were sleeping. It took a while to focus on the person clearly, but she recognized the person by the red hair and armlet.

  "Hey, Rico. What's the matter?" The older hunter's eyes snapped open, and she stared at Danielle in disbelief.

  "You're… awake…" Danielle nodded, a smile on her face.

  "Yup. How could I sleep when my body feels like it's been through a meat grinder?" Tears streamed down Rico's face as she embraced the RAmarl. "Not so hard, Rico. That really hurts," she said weakly. The older hunter let go of her and accessed the storage unit on her arm.

  "I have something for you," she said quickly. She pressed a button on the unit, and a baby Mag appeared. It was royal blue, instead of the light green her last one was. It floated next to her and rubbed against her side. Rico took a picture out of her unit and handed it to Danielle.

  "This is… Dad and me," the teen whispered. "We took it before he left. This was in my house when Black Paper burned it down. It was the only thing I had to remember him by. But, where did you find this?"

  "Your friends Jaden and Draslushee found it and told me to give it to you when you woke up. You're lucky to have friends like them, that's for sure."

  "Where are Dras and Jaden? Are they okay?" Danielle asked. She remembered them being evacuated from the battle with Falz, but didn't know whether they were injured or not.

  "They are just fine. Came by to visit you a couple of times. Those injuries you have are pretty serious. Multiple puncture wounds from the Grants attacks, and your leg was almost completely destroyed by that homing missile. Without the spirit of Diwari that is in you, you may not have survived."

  "I don't understand this at all. How could something like this happen?"

  "Even I don't know, Danielle. Mags have powers that not even we fully know about. Maybe, with time, we will find out how it happened. For now, though, I should get a doctor. I bet you're going to want to be out of her as soon as possible." Rico got to her feet and left the room quickly. Danielle stared at the picture of her dad and her. It was hard to believe he was truly gone. He probably didn't even know about his wife's death at the hands of the organization he hunted. With him out of the picture, Black Paper's next target would be Danielle. She was the last of the Sterlings, and she posed a threat to their plans.

  "I'll find every last one of you," the Ranger whispered, "and I'll avenge my family. You'll wish you had never crossed paths with me." She looked at her new Mag, stroking it gently. One day, she would bring Black Paper down, even if she had to do it herself.

Pioneer 2: Unknown Location

  Ash, a young Viridia HUmar, leaned against the room's wall. With Zechs gone, they had to discover another way to find Dr. Osto's research notes. From the data his agents had found so far, Dr. Osto Hyle and his team of researchers had worked on creating bio-weapons, but only three had promising results: Beta 630, Beta 772, and Gamma 119. The Beta test subjects were of the Altered Beast class. Beta 772, which was the creature called De Rol Le, had been exterminated by hunters. Beta 630 was still on the island it was created at, but it may have escaped its cage. The final subject, Gamma 119, was a Dark-type creature. For some reason, it went out of control and was disposed of. If what his agents found out was correct, then Gamma 119 would still be in the Test Subject Disposal Site.

  The HUmar looked at the latest report from his field agents. They had found some data logs during a computer search in the mines. One of them talked about Olga, one of three military AI's. Vol Opt had gone haywire and was destroyed, but Pioneer 2's labs managed to get a hold of Calus. Ash was hoping to find Olga, but the report in his hands prevented him from doing so. Olga had been implanted in a human subject infected by the D-Type Factor, the lifeform that created Dark creatures. The subject code was Gamma 119. If they could find the subject, then they could extract a sample of the D-Type Factor. With it, they could create their own bio-weapons to sell on the black market.

  "Commander Ash." A purple and white HUcast walked up to him and snapped to attention. "Reporting as ordered, sir." Ash let a small smile creep across his lips.

  "Drop the formalities, Kireek. This isn't the military, you know." Kireek nodded and handed Ash some papers.

  "Our team we sent to the island has been confirmed as KIA. Seems that the creatures there were affected by the explosion. The island AI, Epsilon, has been infiltrated by the D-Type Factor. It's true that it can infect both organic creatures and machines. It would make the perfect weapon if we can harness and control it. The only problem is obtaining a sample. Gamma 119 is the only subject that contains the true D-Type Factor. All of the other creatures don't. Our team managed to get to the lower levels of the facility before being overcome by the creatures there."

  "Tell me, what kind of hostiles are on the island?" Ash asked.

  "On the surface, Native, Altered Beast, and Machine types. The machines have been infiltrated by the D-Type Factor, while the animals were affected by the explosion. In the facility itself, there are Altered Beast, Machine, and Dark types. Do you have an idea?"

  Ash nodded. "What I am thinking of could kill two birds with one stone. We wait until the Lab discovers the location of the island. The hunters they send down would clean out the facility for us. If we are lucky, that Ranger would go down herself. When they reach the area where Gamma 119 is, we will take them out and collect the sample. It will be as easy as that."

  "Sir, I have some news on the Ranger you were talking about." Ash's eyes narrowed, and he gestured for Kireek to continue. "She has come out of her coma. In a few days, she will be released from the hospital. Should I have someone monitor her?"

  The HUmar shook his head. "No, we should not risk it. She may know that we are watching her, and I bet she is none to happy with what we did. It would be better to lie low for a while. I can't risk losing any member of Black Paper, not at this stage. Zechs have been discovered by her before his demise. Unless we can be sure she doesn't know of our agents, we will not monitor her." Ash looked back at the papers Kireek had handed him. The HUcast stood there, watching him.

  "Sir, we may need to call the others. This is an important matter that will require their help. Would you like me to send messages to them?"

  "Yes, but don't have them come just yet. I want to speak with the new hunter, Ace. I may have a mission for him." Kireek saluted and left the room. Ash closed his eyes, a plan formulating in his mind. If everything went according to plan, Black Paper would be able to take over the Principal Government. It was something that he could only dream of back on Coral. Now, he had the power to make it reality. With Dr. Osto's research, not even Danielle and her friends would be able to stand against him.

  "Just you wait. I'll take you out once and for all," Ash said to himself. The HUmar turned to the door. No one would suspect him to be the mastermind behind Black Paper. After all, he was just a pathetic hunter. But soon, people would cringe at the sound of his name instead of laughing.

  Ash grinned at this thought. It wouldn't be long now. With his loyal soldiers with him, not even Danielle could stop his ultimate plan. The Great Shadow was waiting, after all.

A/N: Last chapter. YAY! I'm done. Now to write the three stories I'm working on now. blank stare Also, I'm accepting characters for the sequel to this fic, so submit one if you want.