Disclaimer: I do not own Artix Entertainment or Adventure Quest. Most of this is my own genius shining through. I own Maria Despair. I do not own Safiria. All other characters are my own, unless stated otherwise. I do not own Rayne Anasi, Lizzie Miura, Shiro Kiba, Amourous, Felix, Saya Hitai, or any other Adventure Quest characters created by Artix Entertainment.
Author's Note: This story takes place 1500 years after the events of my previous AQ Fanfictions. If you've ever read "Tenth Man Down", it takes place in an age similar to that. If you have questions, don't worry, you'll get answers.
As Time Goes By
"Alright you worthless dogs! Get ready for a hot drop! We've got a detachment of Paxian Shell Hounds closing in! Start cookin' that SynGic or it'll go cold on you! Drop bays opening in five!" A gruff voice shouted through the PA, the reverberations echoing within the Drop Pod.
"Shit... right outta basic into this. They better pay well." A man in the pod muttered.
"You here for the pay, boy?" A second continued.
"Yes, sir." The first responded. The second let out a loud cackle.
"Haha! Then you're in the wrong branch, son! You're lookin' for Sience Devision! They get all the big bucks!"
"Drop in two!" The voice over the PA boomed.
"Well, then what do we get, sarge?" The first continued. The second voice cackled again.
"We get out asses shot off!"
"GO! GO! GO!" The PA boomed a third time. There came the discomforting lurch of the Drop Pod coming loose from it's locking mechanism, falling to the battlefield below. A woman towards the back of the pod hugged her chain gun. A man beside her kept unloading and reloading the same clip into his C-1 Assault Rifle. A woman beside him continually twirled a pistol around her finger, checking her medical kit.
"Light 'em up!" The second voice from before echoed, the arm rest of the chairs everyone was sitting on opening, dispensing a syringe filled with a glowing, metallic blue goo. Everyone, as they had trained, grabbed the syringe, jammed the needle into the small receiving port on the left wrist of their suit, and pushed the plunger down.
"SynGic systems operating at 100." A series of voices droned in a low tone, a single voice from each suit.
"HEAVY!" The second voice continued.
"Sir!" A female voice called, the origin was the woman hugging the chain gun, her face hidden behind her visor. Across her chest plate was written 'Vampress', her callsign.
"Once we kiss the ground, you're out front! Give 'em hell!" The second continued. "There's gonna be a trench a few hundred meters out of the pod, get there! Vampress, give your unit cover!"
"Touchdown in ten." A computer droned in the pod. Several of the people, their faces, like Vampress', hidden behind their yellow and black visors, began preparing. Preparing for the worst.
"Three. Two. One. Touchdown." There came a thud, showing that the pod had hit the ground, ending it's freefall. Vampress stood, walked to the door and bared her weapon. Across it's barrel was written 'Natalya', it's name. Pressing a button on the back handle, the barrel began spinning. With a hiss, the doors fell open, showing a line of Paxian Shell Hounds, the reptilian creatures advancing. The moment the Shell Hounds saw the pod doors open, Vampress began spray-firing her weapon, killing dozens in front.
"It wasn't always like this..."
The city of Babylonia, a bustling city situated in the center of the largest continent on Lore, was both a political and military hub. The largest feature was the military base situated outside the city boundaries.
The time was somewhere around dusk, possibly ten or so at night. A line of new recruits lined in the moonlight, standing at attention in formation. A single figure paced up and down the line, inspecting the recruits.
"...The sorriest bunch of bottom-feeding maggots I've EVER seen!" The man bellowed. "You! Where are you from son?" He pointed to one of the recruits, his purple hair twitching in the low wind.
"SIR! Lolosia! SIR!" He shouted, never flinching.
"Lolosia? Son, you know what comes from Lolosia right? Queers and cattle! And you sure as HELL don't look like a bovine!" He continued. "YOU!" He pointed to a woman with green hair. "Where you from, sweetheart?"
"SIR!" She started, speechless.
"Well speak up!"
"SIR! Frostvale, SIR!" She replied.
"Ah, so you one of them Popsicles, huh? Well, I hope you like the heat here, cause it's MY crucible that'll test your mettle, soldiers!" He began pacing again. "Alright. Tonight, you'll be running a little obstacle course for me. Nothin' too dangerous, just mind the crocodiles halfway through." He chuckled. "By the way. Name's Sergeant Richard Eisenberg. But as far as you are concerned, it's either Sergeant, or Sir! Understand me?" There came the general consensus of 'SIR! YES, SIR!' coming from the recruits. "Alright, maggots. Get ready! On your mark! GO!" He shouted. All the soldiers-in-training took off and jumped head first into the obstacle course.
Eisenberg was right. It wasn't too difficult. You average stuff. Tire Hoops, Rope Swings, Wall Climb, Barbed Wire for crawling, the usual. But one thing unusal about the whole things is, one soldier pulled out from the crowd and blazed through the entire course, before everyone else was halfway through.
"Well, call me the son of a Paxian whore... Com'ere, son!" He shouted to the soldier.
"Sir?" A female voice answered.
"Popsicle. How'd you do that?" The woman smiled, and shrugged.
"Oh, it's nothing, sir."
"You're not even heaving... you've got some stamina, girl. Good to see. A lot better then these USELESS MAGGOTS!" He shouted to the others who were still struggling.
The time finally came when all of the recruits had finished the course With the Lolosian man finishing after Popsicle.
"Alright, boys and girlies. Let's see how good you can do in the fray. YOU!" He pointed to the Lolosian man. He stepped up.
"Congratulations, son! You've just been shot! I want you on the ground!" He pointed to him and smiled as he spoke.
"SIR! Yes sir!" He dropped to his back.
"Excellent." The man beside Popsicle laughed. "What're you laughin' at boy? Guess what!? You've just been shot, too! I want you on the ground!"
"SIR! Yes sir!" He, too, went to his back.
Eisenberg went down the line like this, telling every other person they've just been shot, and to get on the ground. Popsicle was one who was not shot.
"Alright. People who have NOT been shot, I want you to look to your right! This person is your charge. You are to get them to the helicopter. But guess what?! The helicopter's on the other side of the obstacle course!! That's right sweet cheeks, I want you to run the obstacle course AGAIN, with the person to your right... on your shoulder! Last person there doesn't eat tomorrow morning! Get ready!" Popsicle pulled the Lolosian man onto her shoulder and readied herself. Most of the other recruits were having problems picking up their charges. "GO!" He shouted. And like that, Popsicle was off like a bullet, leaving the other in her dust. She leapt up the rock wall without a second thought, slid under the barbed wire like it was grease under her, and swung effortlessly across the water trap. She landed on the other side, placed the Lolosian man by the cut-out helicopter, and crouched down.
"Sir! All ready for evac, sir!" She shouted. Eisenberg walked over.
"Sir... remind me if I'm ever shot, to make sure she's on my right..." The Lolosian man spoke. Eisenberg looked at him hard. "Sir." He added in. Eisenberg smiled.
"Popsicle, you keep up this, and I might let you save my ass. HURRY UP YOU MAGGOTS! YOU'RE AN EMBARRASMENT TO YOURSELF AND YOUR MOMMA!" The other soldiers tried to keep up, but Popsicle was just too fast.
In the end, someone did end up with no breakfast in the morning, but that's only because he dropped his charge seven or eight times before getting to the cut-out helicopter "What the sam hell you doin' son! I pity the poor SOB you have to save! You might kill him in the process!
Sergeant Eisenberg had allowed them to get some sleep. Sleep, however, was one thing Popsicle couldn't do easily. She stood outside, on the very course she had been earlier, looking at the moon.
"It's beautiful..." She said to herself.
"It always is." A second female voice echoed. Popsicle turned around to see a woman with long black hair dressed in a red recruit's uniform walk up. She had a weird aura about her. "How was the day, Kitten?"
"Hell. Like always. How was YOUR day, Safiria?" Safiria chuckled.
"Ah, you know. This. That. Everything." Safiria smiled, but it quickly shifted to a frown. "What's wrong, Kitten? You look sad." She noted Popsicle's frown.
"Ah... it's nothing... yet... everything I think about. I think that... I've been alive for well over 1300 years, and every thing's changed so much... I don't know anyone... it's terrible, this feeling I have. I make friends, they live, changing year by year, until they finally die. I watch them die, the question of why I look as I always have goes unanswered." She sighed heavily, defeated.
"No... Maria died 1500 years ago... The Maria Despair you fell in love with is dead. It's... just a name now. It holds no meaning."
"Don't you say that, Kitten. You'll always be my Maria. That little kitten who wandered, so lost and confused, to my castle. The little Maria I-"
"Took advantage of?" Maria spoke, more to herself. To anyone else, this would be an insult, but Safiria was used to it.
"Maria... I know what you mean when you say these nasty things... You lost your sister, your daughter... our daughter... and you live in an alien time... it's not meant to be..."
"Oh? If it's not meant to be, then why IS it?"
"It's confusing... even for me... You fell so far in the years..."
"'Fell so far'?!" Maria almost bellowed. "I didn't 'fall', Safiria, I was dragged down by a... system that I didn't understand. When you said I'd always look like this... I didn't think you meant I'd ALWAYS look like this. I look in the mirror some mornings and... I fight the urge to vomit. I'm sick at myself... I look and all I see is this shell looking back at me. This... THING that used to be Maria Despair. I pass my unlife eon after eon, watching change and evolution. I watch the names of my friends, the people who DIED for this world, the names of my friends tossed around in daily conversation, like they were some diety... but they were just... normal people. Just like me...
"NO! I'm not normal! I've never been normal, and I'll never be normal!" She sighed heavily, defeated. "Shit... I'm surprised you've stayed with me for all this time."
"Maria... I love you. I always have, and the only thing that will change that is the end of the world."
"Do you know why I finally decided to join the military again, Safiria?" Maria asked.
"You wanted to get back in the saddle? Test you strength again?"
"No. I did it to honor all my friends. Rayne... Lizzie... Aria... Artix... Wolfblitzer... all of them. Especially Natalya and Serras. My sister always believed in me, and I need to do her memory justice."
"Maria... you need to sleep. You'll never make it through tomorrow if you don't."
"Yea... yea I do..." Maria sighed deafeated and continued to her bunk. "G'night Safiria. Sleep well." She muttered, dissappearing into the barracks.
"Good night, Kitten."