UNLEASHED

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PROLOGUE: A Red Streak in the Night

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The rusted old pipe kept a steady patter of leaking water dripping onto the floor, handily muffling Lily Flyer's light footsteps as she crept through the darkness. Despite her superior training, her heart kept racing- she had been on numerous reconnaissance assignments before, but infiltrating the remains of the last known Black Shadow Labs hideout would make even the toughest veteran's nerves begin to fray. Her tight leather suit easily helped conceal her presence in the shadows, and in what remained of the lighting in the labs barely managed to pick her out. Deeper and deeper she crept into the ruined facility, surveying the wreckage though her night vision goggles. The unexplained explosion here after the GX Grand Prix could be seen from space, yet so much of the labs remained intact- a puzzling result that Lily could not force out from the back of her mind.

Suddenly, right before her eyes, she saw what she had come so far deep into the labs for. A large computer kiosk, with a gigantic containment chamber linked to it with numerous cables. This is it, Lily thought to herself, her hand wandering away from the sidearm strapped on her hip, This has got to be it. The moment she placed her hands on the keyboard, the screen in front of her flashed on, as if it had been used recently. Paying it no mind, Lily quickly set to work, typing in what she was told at the briefing at Federation Headquarters. The screen momentarily went blank, and then quickly revealing the words:

"LOCK DISENGAGED"

A quiet hiss seeped from the containment chamber at Lily's left, and to her amazement, the heavy metal shields slid open. Inside was nothing but a small memory stick, held aloft in midair by a glowing suspension beam. Got it! Lily thought to herself, hastily snatching the stick and slipping it into her pocket, Now to get the hell out of here.

As Lily turned around to make a quick retreat, she gasped when he saw an imposing figure standing at the doorway, blocking her escape. "Thanks a million, lady," he said, drawing a pistol. "Now how about handing it over?"

The sudden blast from Lily's swivelling pistol holster caught the strange figure by surprise, having to dive to his right to avoid the shot. Taking his eyes off of Lily for just that one split-second cost him, the intruder now nowhere in sight. A sudden blow to the back of his knee crumpled him, and Lily's rushing shadow bolting past him into the hallway only irritated him. Running as fast as her legs could carry her, Lily scrambled out of the depths of the BSL, hopped into the open cockpit of the Bunny Flash, and sped out of the hangar and onto the desolate road ahead. Taking as deep a sigh of relief as her body would let her, Lily pulled off her mask and goggles, thankful to be able to breathe somewhat normally again.

All of a sudden, the sound of roaring G-Diffuser engines came screaming up from behind. Looking back, Lily's jaw dropped when she saw the Blood Hawk giving chase behind her, gaining ground at an alarming pace. Strategically shifting gears as she turned, Lily guided the Bunny Flash in a smooth, slippery turn around the long bend in the road, losing a minimal amount of speed as she continued to barrel down the road. The Blood Hawk, however, took the turn even more smoothly, no doubt being piloted by a much more seasoned driver. Within seconds, the Blood Hawk had pulled up right beside the Bunny Flash, and with one violent swerve, ploughed its side into the Bunny Flash's. The Bunny Flash was sent into the guard railings, screeching as it spewed out a shower of sparks. Regaining control of her machine, Lily tried to return the favour by throwing her machine against the Blood Hawk, only to have the Blood Hawk squeeze the brakes, letting her miss by mere inches. Pulling up alongside Lily again, the Blood Hawk swerved away a little bit before ramming itself into the Bunny Flash's side again, this time sending it bouncing against the railings, launching up into the air, and coming down with a bone-rattling crash. Pinned on her side, Lily shook the cobwebs from her head just in time to see the Blood Hawk backing away before screaming forward again. Lily squeezed her eyes shut and ducked her head into her chest, doing the best she could to brace for the inevitable impact. The Blood Hawk's body smashed into the underside of the Bunny Flash, sending it rampaging down the road like an avalanche before finally coming to a stop a few kilometres away.

When Lily's vision returned, she was too stunned to fully realize the staggering amount of pain she was in, despite hanging upside-down and inches away from the road poking through the Bunny Flash's shattered windshield. The boots of a tall figure suddenly appeared, and a gloved hand reached into her cockpit, digging the memory stick out of her pocket. "Like I said," came a voice as Lily's consciousness began to rapidly fade, "thanks a million."