...Hello? Is anybody still reading this? Anybody? Nobody? I need about twenty ccs of 'what the hell is going on here'; any of you care to donate?

I apologize for the long time to update, but a combination of writer's block and personal troubles abound put me off writing for quite a while. I made this chapter particularly long to help make up for it, but if I'm going to continue this, I would like to know that four-fifths of my reviewers haven't given up on me. Needless to say, reviews would be the best way to do this.

Before I shut up, I just have to say that Red Base is not how it appears to be in the games. It's going to be an actual base with actual rooms and such, alright? So no complaining.

Disclaimer: Red vs. Blue, Omega Team, The Codex, and all affiliated characters, organizations, and locations belong to Rooster Teeth Productions, Random Outburst Productions, and Edgeworks Entertainment, respectively. The only things I own are the plot and the evil genetic engineer, Professor Köblös.

Ugh… what happened?

That's the first thought Patrick "Lucky" Romano had as he began to regain consciousness. He opened his eyes, only to find his vision was incredibly blurred. He could tell one thing though: whereever he was, there was a lot of green.

As the feeling began to return to his limbs, he started to hear a voice, one that seemed far away.

"Hey, Sergeant Cleveland, if Lucky dies, can I have his cut of the porn stash?"

"I'm not dead yet, Dean," Romano groaned, recognizing the tech-expert's voice instantly. The blue-armored man sat up, shaking his head, to see the familiar forms forms of his sergeant and his orange teammate sitting nearby, their backs against a tree.

"Oh." He turned back to the sergeant. "If I kill him, do I still get his cut?"

Lucky gave the hacker a death glare. "Sir, permission to strangle Dean until his eyeballs pop out?"

"Permission denied," the officer responded.

"What about just kicking him in the balls?"


"Kidney punch?"


"Headlock 'im until he screams 'uncle'?"




"You suck," Lucky spat.

"What was that, Private?" Cleveland barked.

"You suck, sir!" Romano corrected himself

"That's much better."

"Why would you want my cut, anyway?" the sniper asked. "Why not José's?"

"Are you kidding me?" Dean said, half laughing. "All of his stuff is that special-ordered crap. What'd he call it? Hentai? Anyway, its foreign and it sounds scary, so I don't want it."

Lucky was tempted to comment on how Dean's stuff was scarier than anything José could possibly have, but decided against it.

"Speaking of José," the sniper started, "where is the little pyro?"

"Right next to you, dickhead," Dean said, pointing to Romano's left. Sure enough, the soldier in grapefruit-colored armor was lying on his back a few feet away.

The sharpshooter crawled over to him on his hands and kness, stopping by his comrade's side.

"José," he whispered, waving a hand in front of his visor, "wake up, man."

"Let the man sleep," Cleveland ordered. "We've all had a rough day."

Ignoring his superior, Romano reached out his hand to nudge José's shoulder.

"Wohoo! Let's do that again!" José yelled, snapping to an upright position and pumping both of his fists in the air, sending his blue teammate reeling backward in surprise.

While Lucky was feeling like he was about to have a heart attack from the scare he'd just been given, both Cleveland and Dean felt that if it had been physically possible to anime-sweatdrop, they would have done so.

After catching his breath, Lucky hollered, "Don't do that!"

"Hm? Oh, hey Lucky!" the newly-awoken private exclaimed, putting his arms by his side again. "Do what?"

"Scare the living hell out of me, that's what!"

"Hey, Romano, do you think you could yell a little louder? I don't think Alaska heard you," their superior deadpanned.

"Uh, guys," José began, looking around, "where's Ace?"

"Yeah, where is Ace?" Romano asked, just realizing the area's absence of red. "I wanna introduce his ass to my foot! The little jerk pushed me out of the goddamned ship!"

Dean and Cleveland glanced at each other for a moment before their superior spoke up. "Romano… we haven't found him yet. We were headed toward the crash site when we decided to stop for a rest."

"Yeah, because I made a startling discovery today: dragging an unconscious guy in full body armor across a god-forsaken swamp is not fun," Dean added cynically.

Despite his visor being in the way, the sergeant gave Roberts a look that clearly said "shut up, you're not helping." In return, Dean gave a hopeless shrug that said, "well, it's true."

Romano and José, however, clearly didn't understand body language.

"Great, just great," Lucky griped. "We've just had our only mode of transportation shot to hell, we're lost in the middle of a big-ass swamp, and Lord Pernicious' goons could be anywhere! To top it all off, Ace, our close-quarters expert, which would have been perfect for being in a swamp with fog so thick you could cut it with a knife, is nowhere to be found!"

With those last words, he threw his hands up in exasperation, panting from not breathing once during his little episode.

His three comrades stared at him blankly for several seconds.

"…So, you done ranting yet, Lucky? 'Cause the sooner we start walking, the sooner we get out of here," Dean stated, voice harsh and blunt.

Letting his arms drop to his side, Romano conceded, "Fine… let's get going."

"Hey, Romano, you might want this!"

Turning toward his commanding officer, he caught the object that was flung at him.

"My sniper rifle?" he asked incredulously as Cleveland began to walk off. "Sir, I fail to see how this could be of any help."

"How? You're the team sniper, aren't you?" José asked, following his CO.

"Yeah, but what good is a six-foot long weapon going to do me against an enemy that's five feet away?"

Ignoring his question, the rest of Team Omega walked off into the fog.

"Guys? Guys? Goddammit," he cursed, slinging his sniper rifle across his back.

Jogging to catch up with them, Lucky let out a sigh. "This is just not my day…"

"Time's up, insects!"

White Twenty-three tightened his grip on his assault rifle. Just what he needed; his commander blowing his top. Yet another thing for him to add to the list of things that went wrong today.

This entire operation was supposed to be a milk run. Land on the planet, take hostages, kill those who resist. Plain and simple. So why the hell did these lower life forms have to mess everything up? There was no way they could survive!

The odds being in their favor didn't calm the trooper's nerves, however. This was Gigas Company's first mission, and since it was such an easy one, if they did fail, all of them would be labeled defective, and thus, he shuddered to think about it, 'scrapped'. And he was sure that he spoke for the rest of the Mark II's when he said he didn't want that to happen.

White One shook his head. "Alright, so we'll have to do this the hard way. White Twenty-one! Get your squad in there! Check out what's going on and report back!"

"Yes sir!"

"C'mon, we're up," a voice whispered next to him. He turned to his right see his teammate, White Twenty-two, get up from the crouching position he had been in behind the hill they were using for cover.

"Finally!" a gravelly voice exclaimed. "I was hoping to get some action soon."

A turn to his left showed another soldier with a big twenty-four emblazoned on his shoulder get out from his hiding place.

Shakng his head, Twenty-three lifted himself off the ground and ran after his squad. He brought himself to a stop in front of the base's front entrance.

"All right," Twenty-one growled, "let's get this show on the road. Twenty-two, you take point; Twenty-five, you guard the door."

The latter simply nodded his head in acknowledgement, while the former gave out a small, "Yes sir."

Twenty-three watched as his comrade came to the first intersection, rifle at the ready. He looked to the right, then spun around to his left. He lowered his rifle and walked out of sight. After a few moments, even his footsteps stopped. Twenty-three could feel his heart pounding in his ears. He found himself thinking how different things felt out in the field than they did in the training sims...

"All clear."

Snapping back to reality, Twenty-three moved forward, the footsteps of his two companions seeming to echo in the empty space.

"Twenty-four, you go to the left with Twenty-two. Twenty-three, you're with me."

The tempermental soldier did as he was bidden and veered off to the left. As Twenty-three and his squad leader went their way, they immediately found a bend in the hall and turned left again.

They found themselves in a somewhat spacious living area. A ridiculously large skylight breached the ceiling, its light illuminating the only pieces of furniture in the room: a couch on one side, a computer hooked up to a TV screen on the other, and a coffee table in the center.

The two clones raised their rifles when they saw two figures burst in. On the opposite side of the room was none other than…

…Twenty-two and Twenty-four, both with their own rifles raised.

"…Well," Twenty-two said at length, "that was pointless."

"Just shut up and search the room, Twenty-two," their CO barked, lowering his firearm.

"Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the test tube," Twenty-two quipped.

Chosing to ignore their comrade, Twenty-three and Four followed their orders. Twenty-four began tossing the cushions on the sofa aside while Twenty-three looked around. He found that each side of the room had two entryways, the wall opposite where they came in having a similar passage to the outside, and the remaining two walls sporting sliding metal doors.

"Sir," he piped up, getting his superior's attention. When the officer turned around, Twenty-three motioned toward the doorways on either side. The commander nodded.

"Twenty-two, found anything on that computer yet?"

"No sir," the grunt replied. He tipped over the computer's plastic shell, a bunch of bits of metal and plastic pouring out like sand. "They completely trashed all the hardware before they left."

"Can you salvage it?"

"Permission to use an analogy, sir?"

"Permission granted."

"Asking me to try to salvage this would be like asking me to read a paper document after someone had burned it by gluing the ashes together," the trooper stated bluntly.

"Then stop wasting time and pick a door," the officer snapped. "You too, Twenty-four."

They both let out a "Yes sir" before getting into position. Twenty-three mimiced their movements, getting to the side of the door closest to him in case the first thing that came out was a hail of bullets.

"On three, push the button that opens your door," the officer breathed. "One… two… three!"

They moved at once, the crisp shink noise of the metal doors siding open in unison. Twenty-three pivoted into the doorway, sweeping the area with his assault rifle. The room was… not what he expected, to say the least.

It was a bedroom, that much was certain; there was even a standard army cot in the corner, albiet with a pink quilt on it. What was interesting was the personal effects that were found everywhere. There were several books strewn across the floor, many of which looked like they had their spines on the wrong side, with such strange titles as "Inuyasha" and "Fruits Basket." He privately thought to himself that whoever wrote them must be part dyslexic. The walls were covered with posters of various kinds, with pictures of various people. Most of them were still-lifes, names such as "Draco Malfoy", "Eragon", and "Edward Cullen" all popping up, but several appeared to be of the Japanese post-modern drawing style he had heard about in the Human History vids, a violet cat-like creature with abnormally large hips and blue canine with red eyes being the most prominent.

While idly wondering how long the inhabitants of the base had lived on the planet, something caught his eye on the cot. It was a sketch pad and pencil, and it looked like whoever had been there was in the middle of drawing something before they dissapeared. Twenty-three walked over to the bunk, picked up the sketch pad, and began flipping through it, hoping to get a psychological profile on the person who lived there.

The first few dozen drawings were of people in the canyon, perhaps people the artist knew, but after that, it was all featuring the humans and creatures that adorned the walls of his (her?) room. They were all doing something similar, sometimes in trios, but he didn't know what. The clone vaguely remembered seeing something similar in the training vids on human anatomy and culture, but neither of those were really Twenty-three's strongsuit.

"Squad, form up!" his CO called, coming out of his own room. Twent-three turned around and rejoined his teammates in the central room.

"Yes sir," Twenty-four said first. "This room has definitely been lived in; there are beer cans, ashes, and the wrappings of some kind of ration called a 'Twinkie' spread all over the floor, along with several magazines with naked female humans hidden under the cot."

"Twenty-two, what about you?"

"Nothing that's there anymore," he responded. "There are hooks and rods stuck into the wall that look like they used to hold power tools and weapons, but that's all gone now. Strange thing is, it was someone's bedroom! All I know is that whoever lived there must have been paranoid; the guy had a bayonet attatched to his goddamn toothbrush!"

"If all of that is missing, then they must have taken it with them, and are well armed," Twenty-four added. "That's going to make our job harder."

"I thought you liked things harder," Twenty-two remarked.

"Yeah, when I actually get to fill them with lead, not the other way around."

Twenty-one ignored his subordinates. "I didn't find much of anything, either. There were a lot of tech manuals, war novels, and science fiction stories. Nothing much of interest. The place was organized so well it was somewhat disturbing, though. Twenty-three, did you have any better luck?"

"Well, sir…" he started, uncertain how to begin, "there was a lot of strange stuff in there. It looked a lot like a room that you would find an adolescent female living in."

"So, nothing of interest?" Twenty-four asked.

"No, I found something," he responded, lifting the notepad up. "Whoever lived in there was an artist, and it looks like they drew the people who lived here."

"Why would we need that?" Twenty-two asked. "Our job is to just break their legs and drag them to the interogation room; we don't need to know what they look like to put them in our crosshairs."

"Twenty-two has a point; while interesting, it won't be of much use right now. Just be sure to get it to the torture specialists in case of the rare event that they actually decide to use psychological torture," Twenty-one stated.

"Yes sir, sorry sir," Twenty-three conceded.

He suddenly caught something moving on his HUD. It was his motion tracker. He glanced toward the lower left corner where it resided, and he saw red dots… lots of red dots. And according to the tracker, they were right on top of them.

"Everyone, outside, on the double!" their superior ordered, motioning back the way they came. "Our radios are being jammed; we have to get outside and warn the commandant!"

Twenty-three was in front of the group as they left, Twenty-two asking behind him, "How the hell did they not show up earlier?"

"Damn if I know, but if we don't get outside and find cover, we're fucked," Twenty-four stated, taking up the rear. "The size of those contacts means vehicles, and lots of them."

"I said double time, men!"

As they reached the entrance, they Twenty-five, the one they left to guard their exit, just outside the compound with his back to them. The lookout, hearing the footsteps, turned around to find his retreating comrades.

"What's wrong, si-?"

"Fall back, Twenty-five, and that's an order!" their team leader barked.

Twenty-three cleared the doorway and was about to meet the bewildered Twenty-five when a loud whirring sound to his left caught his attention. He tilted his head and saw something large and purple headed straight toward them. Two things registered in his mind in that split second: "A Covenant Ghost is headed straight for me" and "Get the hell out of the way!"

Time seemed to slow down as his training kicked in. The clone turned toward the advancing vehicle and jumped, leaning his body forward as if to somersault over it. His body cleared the Ghost's hood, and he sailed over the head of the driver in pink Spartan armor. He twisted his body and stretched his arm downward. His glove found the edge of the cockpit's seat and latched on.

Things sped up again as the Replicant soldier felt his arm almost jerk out of its socket from the pull of the purple hovercraft. He heard a scream as Tweny-five was struck with the Ghost's left wing. The last of the four blue dots at the top of Twenty-three's HUD faded out, indicating that his teammate had been killed.

The soldier could feel his fingers slipping, and brought his other arm up to the edge of the Ghost's cockpit. With great effort, he was able to swing his legs forward to hook onto the vehicle as well.

Now confident of his balance, Twenty-three looked forward to face the back of the driver's head. He raised a fist to knock him from his perch, but sudden turbulence caused him to firmly plant both of his hands onto the vehicle; the Ghost had crested the hill the clone had been taking cover behind earlier, and had just plowed through at least ten of the soldiers who had still been doing so.

"Hey, how did you get back there?" a high pitched voice exclaimed. The driver, now aware of the clone's prescence, turned back to look at him.

Choosing not to respond, Twenty-three lunged at the controls.

"Hands off, buddy!" the pink-clad stranger protested, trying to drive his hands away from the dashboard. The Ghost lost its heading in the confusion, making abrupt turns and going in circles. The distraction attracted the attention of several nearby Replicants, who began firing at the cockpit with their rifles.

Just as the clone got his fist around one of the handles, pressing down hard to send the Ghost into its blindingly fast boost, he heard his opponent say, "Got something for ya', punk!" The pink Spartan jammed his palm into the Replicant's face, and Twenty-three's visor was suddenly overtaken by a pulsating blue light. A harsh impact then jostled his skull, likely the driver's fist, making him lose his grip. "Yeaheah, take that!"

Adrenaline pounded in the soldier's head as he felt himself free-fall. In a rush of instinct, he grabbed hold of the sides of his helmet and yanked it off. He tossed it with all his strength toward the retreating Ghost. The clone watched his helmet as he landed, his armor kicking up dirt and his left leg bending back at an unatural angle toward his hip. He hissed in pain, cursing the laws of momentum, as his discarded helmet exploded right behind the Ghost. The explosion sent the back of the vehicle flying into the air, the pilot losing control.

"Oh, son of a bi-!"

The faint curse of the Spartan cut off, his ride slamming top-first into the canyon wall. The violet vehicle fell backward into its upright position, the limp body of the driver sliding out of his seat.

Avoided getting run over, escaped death by plasma grenade, and neutralized an enemy vehicle… I'd call that a good day's work, he thought through the pain of the adrenaline wearing off. He picked up the assault rifle which lay at his side, rolled onto his back, and started to crawl back toward the crest of the hill, his vision getting blurrier and the gunfire sounding a lot more distant now...

"Oh, son of a bi-!"

Church winced as he saw Donut's Ghost slam into the cliff in front of him. Poor bastard… he better not've damaged my goddamn hovercraft, though.

Returning himself to the task at hand, he looked to the path ahead, the winding bath along the canyon wall now holding at least a dozen of the dark-grey soldiers, each sporting a sniper rifle or rocket launcher and a stockpile of ammo at their feet. He crouched down, keeping close to the shadows just in case they could see him in his ghostly form.

As he neared, he heard the unmistakable clap of thunder that was the tank's main turret; he turned his head to the center of the canyon and saw the Warthog speed by, the volume of Simmon's colorful insults and battlecries rivaling the rattling of the turret he was firing for all it was worth. Grenades went off as it passed, the teal form of Tucker lobbing them into the rocks from the passenger's side.

The escape was in full swing.

"Seventeen, get the laser and take out that tank! Aim for the barrel!" one of the nearby invaders shouted, a white sixteen printed on his back and shoulder plates.

"Yes sir!" another responded, his apparent namesake also emblazoned on his suit, as he turned around and picked up… something. Church didn't recognize it, but it was bulky, long, green, and the soldier was holding the back on his shoulder like a rocket launcher. The one called Seventeen pulled the trigger, and a narrow, faint red laser flickered toward the other side of the canyon, the tank in question coming into view while it blasted away the soldiers on the cliffs opposite Church.

"I don't think so, asshole," Church spat to himself as he went into a sprint and jumped into the soldier's skin.

The soldier gave a slight jerk and took his finger off the trigger as Church hijacked his body. The specter found it surprisingly easy to overpower the soldier's mind, the new puppet's senses and muscle control flooding into the dead private's consciousness instantly. That's odd… I don't think I even felt a fight.

He was noticing how the layout of the soldier's HUD was almost exactly like his old one when he heard the other from before bark, "Seventeen, what are you doing?"

"Sorry, sir," Church responded, his own voice sounding alien to him, "messed up my shot."

"That shaky aim of yours is going to get you killed one of these days, soldier," he heard him reply. Church didn't notice at first, but it seemed to him that the voice of his host and that of his commander sounded almost exactly alike.

"Roger that," he responded, trying to sound professional. He rammed his finger on the trigger, aimed in the general direction of the tank, and watched as the red beam flickered to life again. A small arrow went around the side of the reticule as it charged, and the red light was growing more intense the closer it got to the top.

Oh shit, time's up!

He swerved around, bringing the barrel of his weapon to point along the cliff path when it fired a thick, crimson laser. Church was almost knocked over by the kickback, the heavy weapon lurching backward from the shot and red mist pouring out of the end. He regained his balance and looked up. Most of the soldiers along the ridge had a hole burned clean through them; no trace of flesh or armor, just a ring of singed wounds. In unison, about a dozen lifeless bodies collapsed, several of their dismembered limbs and still-occupied helmets rolling down the cliff face. The soldiers who hadn't gotten hit looked around in confusion as one who did was staring at his smoldering stumps for arms. Almost as one, they turned in Church's direction.

"Seventeen's gone rogue!"


"Put him down!"

"Holy shit… I actually hit something!" Church exclaimed, before he felt a hail of bullets pelt into his body. "Son of a bitch!"

He shed his current host, letting the heavily wounded soldier collapse to the ground as a pool of blood formed around him before a trio of battle rifle rounds that broke through his helmet put him out of his misery.

Suddenly, Church found himself as the new target of the survivors. Of course, the rounds passing through him simply gave him a weird tickling sensation, and he leaped into the nearest host, a soldier firing wildly at him with an SMG.

The hell…? Getting into these guys is too easy, the ghost pondered as his new host's senses flooded into his own. Ignoring the frantic comm chatter, mostly exclamations from his immediate opponents at his appearance, he swung around to face them, unlatching a frag grenade from his host's waist and tossing it with a swift click of the trigger.

To the ghost's dismay, the grenade landed on a patch of ground only occupied by the remains of victims of the earlier laser shot.

"Oh, son of a-!" he exclaimed as the grenade exploded harmlessly and his host's comrades focused fire on him.

Church jumped out of the unfortunate soldier just as he fell to the ground, the visor of his helmet completely shattered and bloody from the stream of gunfire that poured into it. "Really gonna have to learn to make 'em last longer…" he growled, sprinting toward the next enemy, unphased by the futile shots they all directed at the specter.

"Oh how I wish Sponge were still alive…"

Lord Pernicious groaned as the doors to the bridge opened before him. He strode inside angrily, the Professor close behind him.

"If you truly feel the need for a new sychophant-"

"First Lackey," Pernicious corrected, frustration evident in his voice.

"Right, 'First Lackey,' I could always make another clone; I still have the imprint for the last one," Köblös finished.

"No, no, we need every cloning vat available to replenish our inventory." The commander eased himself onto the bridge's throne. "I can live without a personal boot-licking meatshield… for a while. Though we will need to make a new commander, if we can't select one; though he was a trecherous worm who bit the hand that made him, Commander Quirkless will be hard to top in competence. It was rather unfortunate I had unload an entire clip of my rifle into him before he finally died; such a waste of ammo… and skill, I guess," he mused to himself, getting lost in thought.

"Good thinking, sir," the doctor nodded.


Pernicious set his armored chin into his hand, watching the scene before him unfold on the main view screen. It was an aerial view of the battle in the canyon with the trespassers he wanted eliminated, and instead of seeing a line of soldiers with their hands behind their heads like he had hoped, he instead saw his newest, latest batch of soldiers in disarray, their lines broken and being hunted down all across the canyon in a mess of gunfire and explosions that looked more like abstract art than an actual event.


"Yes, sir?" he answered coolly.

"Gigas Company was based on the DNA of that Federation prisoner we took on Centauri Eight as per my request, correct?"


"And they are also – by your own words – supposed to be stronger, faster, smarter, agile…er, more susceptible to orders and less likely to be complete pansies unlike some other models?" He glared around at the bridge crew, most of which either visibly cringed or worked faster in response.

"Also correct..." the professor said at length.

"Then why, whywhyWHY are they being slaughtered by a force a tenth of their size?" the white-armored man asked angrily, a dent left in the arm of his throne from repeatedly banging his fist on it.

"Well, let's take a look at the battle, shall we?" Unfazed, the olive-colored doctor approached the side of the throne. "What're the men saying on the ground, comm officer Blue Fifty-one?"

"It's chaos; very hard to sort out specifics, sirs, even with my team," the clone spoke up from a console on the floor below the throne.

"Excuses are not needed right now, Fifty-one!" Pernicious barked in his direction.

"What can you discern?" Köblös followed-up levely.

"Th-the unkown ground force has four vehicles," the clone started, clearly nervous. "An M-eight-oh-eight-B Main Battle Tank, an M-twelve L-R-V, a M-two-seven-four Ultra-light A-T-V, and a Type Thirty-two R-A-V."

The white-armored leader groaned again. "Would you repeat that sans the technobabble, please?"

"You called, Your Ruthlessness?" a clone toward the head of the bridge spoke up, wheeling his chair to face the throne. Unlike the others, he had cyan armor and a personalized emblem, three golden triangles connected at the corners to form another triangle.

"Not you, First Pilot Technobabble!" Pernicious snapped right back. "Now focus on doing your job or I'm revoking your Xbox Live Gold Membership!"

"Y-yes sir!" Technobabble squeaked, spinning back to his console.

Köblös shook his head with a sigh. "You really do spoil that one too much…"

"If we weren't in such dire straights, they'd all have priviledges like that, but because of several mishaps, we are," he responded. "And you can't complain, Köblös; it's because of you that I had the pool of marshmallow fluff drained to make room for more of your equipment, and morale went down as a result. Do hope you're happy."

"It matters little," Köblös said tersely. "Fifty-one, please continue."

"Yes s-sir," he stuttered. "The vehicle's names, in more generic terms: a Scorpion tank, a Warthog, a Mongoose, and a Covenant Ghost."

"Covenant… now there's a name I haven't heard in a while," Pernicious hummed. "Strange that humans would have one of those…"

"It was neutralize a few moments ago, sir; no longer a threat," the clone clarified, anxiety gone from his voice.

"Then why, may I ask, haven't the heavy weapons teams down there disabled the other, more powerful vehicles?" he shot back.

"Er… well…" he stuttered.

"Go on," Köblös encouraged.

"The comm chatter is talking about… a ghost, sirs, taking out our snipers and demolition men."

Lord Pernicious leaned forward in his seat. "Would you mind repeating that, Fifty-one?"

"A ghost, sir. That's what the men are seeing, and that's what the cameras are picking up."

"Zoom in on that spot." the professor ordered.

Pernicious returned his gaze to the screen, which began to close in on one trail that ran along the cliff wall. As the image came in closer, to his surprise he saw a white blur jump on one of his men wielding a rocket launcher and disappear. Every soldier nearby began firing on this one soldier, who wheeled around and fired a rocket into the ground in front of him, killing himself and a nearby sniper. Before the burst of unearthed dust even settled, the white figure ran out of the cloud, running into Replicant gunfire as it passed straight through him.

"It seems these interlopers do so well due to supernatural help."

Pernicious growled. "Thank you for stating the obvious, Professor. Now what are we going to do about-?"

"Um, Your Viciousness, sir?"

"What is it, Technobabble?" he spat at his subordinate. "It'd better be damn important!"

"There's a radio transmission coming from the planet's surface, sir!" the pilot said hastily. "Not one of ours, and not from the canyon! I… I think you may want to listen."

"Fine!" he barked. "Patch it through!" He pressed a button on the arm of his chair that he hadn't broken, turning on a speaker.

"Good day, sir. So sorry to interrupt, but it appears like your little invasion isn't going so well," a voice came through the comm, laughing mirthfully. The accent was thick British, or at least something close to it, from what he could tell, and the tone gave him the impression that the speaker was getting up in years.

"Who are you to insult my army, you little worm?" Pernicious growled angrily.

"Now now, no need to get testy," the voice admonished. "I'm calling to offer my services."

"What kind of services?" he asked, already becoming impatient.

"The kind that involve stealthily putting a bullet in a man's head. For the right price, of course."

"And why would I want a mercenary when I have an army?"

"Because I'm quite familiar with the chaps your men are getting slaughtered by down in that canyon. I could tell you all you need to know about them, and would gladly get rid of them."

"I'm listening… what do you want in return?" the white-armored commander asked, visibly relaxing.

"Just for you to get me off this rock; nothing more. Dreadfully dull place until you lot came, and I simply must get back to the galaxy at large."

"Alright, you're hired," Pernicious agreed, visibly in a better mood. "I'd like to discuss the final terms in person, however… where are you?"

"Ah, prefer things face-to-face, do you? I'm currently in the frozen crater at the top of the mountain close to Blood Gulch, the canyon where the battle is."

"I'll redirect a transport for you shortly then, Mister…?"

"My name's Reginald, my good man… but you can call me Wyoming."

I apologize in advance for any spelling errors; for some reason, Spellcheck isn't working at the moment, but hopefully mt beta reader, Ari, caught them all. If you see any, please feel free to point them out, as usual.