Rogue Fox Spare Your Soul
XXXIV
Apex
SyxxFox


Things were moving so fast now. From briefing to briefing the Slayers were brought back into the system of the Cornerian Military. Just as before, the Slayers had no official rank, so depending in whose eyes they were seen through, they outranked everyone, or no one.

Syxx took a long sigh as his shoulder rested on the wall of laboratory. It seemed as if in these times he was only ever to look at things through a pane of glass. On the other side of the ballistics glass, there were mechanics and engineers welding, cutting and forging things on tables, that all encircled two tall glass cylinders, each containing two suits, or parts of suits, while others were on top of chop tables. Pyro almost had his nose on the glass, he was standing so close to watch what everyone on the inside of chamber was doing. Clearly he was fascinated with their process as the mechanics attempted to put together the remnants of their Vortec armouring.

Slippy was scanning through technician reports, and holograms of the armour that he had access to. "One is salvageable. Most everything is intact." He looked at the diagrams and shook his head. "When was the last time you had this thing in for maintenance?"

Pyro stared off into the shop. "I'm a 'mechanic', I fix things as they break."

Slippy tapped his clipboard on the desktop. "I'm not talking a shred in the armour, or a tap in the lens. I'm talking about cleaning the air filters, changing bearings, seals in the hydraulics, and couplings, greasing the fittings; everything that we do, to keep the Vortec running at its full potential, and to keep 'soldiers' like you safe.

Pyro snapped back at him. "That's what the nanobots are for! If it weren't for-"

Syxx coughed and cleared his throat, propping his back up against the wall and his arms crossed over his chest. "Pyro, enough."

Just as Syxx finished his sentence, the door to the computer room opened. It was Peppy and the blue fox Krystal. It was like they were stalking his every movement, Krystal especially. As the blue fox, and the grey hare walked into the room, Syxx pushed himself off the wall, putting his back to them as they entered. He stood beside Pyro, and pulled down a set of black lensed goggles over his eyes. As he could, he would hide his glowing blue –fire eyes. It made people uneasy, and with the presence of a few rogue Slayers in their base, everyone was uneasy enough around him, and Pyro. He licked over his silver fang, and joined Pyro with his stare into the shop. He was actually happy that everything was moving so fast, it kept Krystal busy, and off his back… for now. For now he could avoid contact with her. There wasn't time for that right now, but he knew it was coming. They had to put the past in its place for the moment, and focus on survival.

Peppy tilted his head a little bit, and stepped toward Slippy. "Everything alright?"

The toad nodded. "Yes Sir. We're just going over some of the repairs on the armour."

Peppy crosses his paws together behind his white lab-coat. "Well no better time to brief me, then when the users of the suits are right here. Can we have them ready for tomorrow?"

Slippy spun the hologram on the projector. It took apart both of the suits piece by piece, splaying them out like a 3D parts diagram. "Anything that is repaired and functional is shown in green. Anything that needs further work is in red."

Peppy watched the holograms spin around on the small platform. One of the suits just had a few small patches of red only in selective spots, but the other one, the one that had the number 66 on the shoulder plate, was painted in glowing red almost everywhere. "But this one is almost all red."

"That's right." Said the toad. "Pyro's armor is fine. We're just putting the finishing touches on it now, and we'll have it back together and running like new in a few more hours, minus a few parts we'll need, later. SFX will be able to fabricate us those parts on Katina."

"And the other?"

Slippy took a long sigh. "Seals are done, optics smashed, nano-circuits are all toast, and the list goes on and on. Ugh, I don't even want to get started on the fission-fusion core. We're basically starting from the ground up on this one. If this was an insurance claim, this thing would be a write-off. With the tools, and people I have at my disposal, it would still be at least a week to rebuild if I had all the parts I need, which I don't. We don't have machinery to fabricate the parts either. And on top of all that, the circuits are infected with the Aparoid virus, so the moment we connect a computer to it we risk transmitting the virus to whole shelter." He pointed at the arms of the Vortec. "These blades on the 66 armour are transmutations from when the virus coupled with the nanobots."

Peppy shook his head. "So what's the verdict?"

"The long and short of it is, wearing whatever is left of this Vortec now, would be like wearing a suit of iron. The nano's are dormant, which means that they are not powering the suit. It's as good as an anchor right now."

Syxx listened in, and everything that they were saying was adding up. He knew the moment that suit powered down on him. He knew what it felt like to have arms of steel weighing him down with each movement. He would be better off without the Vortec for now. Though it made him more powerful, it wasn't the suit that made the Slayers reputation.

"Fox." the hare said.

The black and white man half looked over his shoulder at him through the black lensed goggles. He didn't say anything, knowing that the gaze of a Slayer was answer enough.

Peppy continued after a short pause. He noticed that Syxx didn't talk much anymore, not like he used to. He hid everything that he could. "We're ready for briefing, Fo-" He stopped. "Syxx."

Syxx looked back to the glass, replying with a head nod. Next he tipped his head to the side motioning his nose toward the doorway. Pyro took a step back from the window, stepping straight backward before turning around with his ring tail following behind him. Syxx followed behind that, with Peppy right behind them. Krystal didn't leave the room with them, to Syxx's relief. They made their way to the briefing room. Up through the flights of complex they went, in awkward silence. Every soldier and every Marine stopped and stared at the Slayers as they walked through the halls of the complex. Though they Slayers looked mortal now, they still emitted an aura that enveloped them. When they came to the security door, they let Peppy pass through first opening the doors to the dark mission-room.

The room had a long rectangular silver table. It was the only thing lit up in the room, illuminating faces that sat around the table, as Peppy joined them at them, sitting at the head of the table. Syxx and Pryo stood at the back of one side of the table, in among the shadows. There were shadows on the other side of the table too. Black Ops, and Marines.

"Sir. We're ready to get started." One of the General's at the table said.

Peppy crossed his fingers into each other, setting his paws down on the table. "Then let's get to it. Chairman, go ahead."

Prime Minister Lionel cleared his throat. "As you all know, we're making preparations to evacuate Corneria in forty-eight hours. Engineers have been working round the clock in the hangers that we have secured, getting drop-ships, and escort craft flightworthy. We've almost got enough ships ready to get everyone off the surface. Whatever craft the Space Station can spare us will also be en'route. This is where another problem arises. General Hare."

Peppy took a pause. "We've been in contact with the Corneria City PD via radio. They're got wounded, and running low on food, and munitions. And they have children. We can't leave them." The room darkened a little more then got brighter as a blue and silver map resolved on the hollopanal. It was a virtual map of Corneria City. A red line traced through the map, cutting through the streets of the city leading from their doorstep at the complex all the way to the police station. Peppy scratched his chin. "We've planned the most direct route to the station."

A large husky stepped out of the shadows putting her paw on the back of an empty chair. Porter, the Black Op. "How many refugees we talking?"

"Could be up to forty civilians plus Officers."

"Transport?"

"You'll have access to four Gillis APC's and two trucks. The civilians all must be transported inside the APC's to avoid too much contamination. You'll travel in one convoy through the streets. How you wish to proceed is up to you."

Porter stared at the map and lowered her head. "Do I have any other support?"

The room suddenly fell deathly silent, before Peppy let out a long breath. "Actually, Sergeant Porter, you'll be working under Syxx's watch. He'll be in charge of this mission."

The husky immediately slammed her paw down on the table surface. Everyone in their seats jumped back, and the hologram flickered. "You're giving command of a rescue mission to a Slayer?!"

Peppy ignored Porters outrage, and turned his gaze to Syxx, who was staring back at him with a tilted head. "You'll be in charge of getting these people back to us safely."

Syxx looked back over the table. He watched the husky soldier's rage. He held back his smile, and slowly stepped toward the table, and into the light, with his heavy boots tapping loudly with each step he took forward. His white tail tip was the only part illuminated behind him as he walked forward. He wrapped his arms over his chest, and let out a long breath. He lifted a paw and put them on the rim of his goggles, sliding them up on his forehead, tucking them beneath his hair. His glowing blue electric eyes made everyone at the table shuffle as he looked over each and every single one of them, before his eyes traced the red line through the map.

Peppy cleared his throat. "Syxx?"

The dark vulpine spoke, showing his silver fang ever so subtly as he did. "Pyro. Assessment."

Pyro walked up beside Syxx. He figured the ringtail must have been studying the map too, because his answer was fast. "These are the fastest routes on a Sunday afternoon. This freeway is gridlocked. You'll never get a convoy through here." He pointed to each part on the map as he spoke. "Here and here, there are barricades; ambush points where local militias dispatch anyone that comes through. Heavy resistance. We can't get through there."

"Advise." The fox said simply.

"We take residential roads and alleys. They're clear of any cars, being low traffic. Not exactly a straight line, but it'll be the fastest and safest. Not like we have to stop for the stop-signs anyways. Anywhere that we go we'll have to keep watch. Nowhere in the city is safe anymore." The raccoon tapped a new route into the controls. A new route was highlighted. "This is what I recommend. But be ready for changes, we'll likely have to reroute a few times."

Syxx nodded his head once. "General. Support?"

"We're your support." A voice came from behind the crew.

Syxx let out a very low growl, and his nose wrinkled ever so slightly. He knew the voice of that female. He turned his head just enough so his blue-fire eyes could glance at Krystal, and the other two members of Star Falco.

"Star Falco will be at the ready for your support." Said Peppy. "A gun-ship, and two Arwings. The Arwings will be your scouts, and you'll have fire support via the Freon."

The dark fox growled. "We don't need Mercenaries to overwatch our-"

"Syxx." Pyro spoke up and cut off the fox. "We might need the fire support and if things get dicey enough, we can always use the Arwings for airstrikes."

Syxx grit his fangs together and slid the goggles back over his eyes. "I need exclusive command over the support vessels."

"You have lead of this mission dark-fox. Show me you can stay in check. Everyone is dismissed."

As they filed out of the room, Pyro smacked the black fox on the back of the head. The raccoon spoke over his shoulder with a hiss through his fangs. "I know you're pissed off that things aren't going your way right now. But keep your head in the game, or we're both dead."

The door shut, leaving Star Falco, and General Hare together in the mission room. The hung in brief silence for a moment, before Peppy took a long breath. "Have you spoken to him yet?"

Krystal weaved her paws together at her front, and looked down at her boots with a sigh. "He won't let me close to him."

Falco cut in. "This is ridiculous Peppy! You are letting a war criminal live, and giving him command of a rescue mission!"

Katt put a paw on the avian's shoulder. "Falco, calm down."

Peppy snapped back. "This isn't the way we'd do things in normal times! He may be our only hope. If he can lead this mission and complete it successfully, we know we can lay some trust on him. Maybe there is still some of Fox left inside of him."

Falco huffed, crossing his wings. "You know as well as I do, that those… 'things', would be able to kill every single soldier in that team, and make a break for it."

Peppy shook his head. "No they won't. Cause if they do, you'll kill them both."


X


The only place Syxx could find solace in entire shelter was the brig. The place that he had been contained all this time was the only place he could sleep, and listen to the vague whispers of the Krazoa in his head. It would be enough to drive any man mad. He couldn't explain the way he felt or more importantly why he felt it. He even questioned himself if the spirit had made him change his ways, or if the path that he had walked led to a dead end, and he was just looking for a way out and to carry on. He kept avoiding Krystal high on his list of priorities. It felt like an anvil was hanging above his head.

Syxx walked through the halls of the complex alone. As each and every group of people walked passed him, they would stick to the opposite wall. He'd spot them go out of their way too, to not have to walk past him. Everyone knew who he was, and he didn't know anyone. Just as it had always been. He walked up through stairwells slowly making his way to the surface, and before long he was at the heavy blast door that would lead to the main floor of the complex. There was already a crew waiting there for him on the platform. Four Black Ops stood on the left of the door, and a dozen Marines on the right with an armored silver and black fighter with a mirrored visor, heavy shoulder pads, metal boots, and a rifle hung on a loop at his side.

Porter growled at him as the black fox made his way to the top of the stairs. "Sir."

He could tell that everyone was giving him a surprised look as he made his way up the stairs. All the warriors were in sealed Siege II suits, and Pyro was in his rebuilt Vortec. Syxx however looked a little different from all of them. A thick scarf was wrapped around his neck, draping onto his shoulders and chest, which was covered with a heavy brown leather flight coat, and army cargo pants and black boots. Goggles were pressed onto his forehead above his eyes. He could feel the fear off all the soldiers as he looked them over with his fire-blue-spirited eyes. His thick clothing would be able to shield him from the radiation only temporarily. Despite everyone advising him to take a breathing apparatus, and some radiation equipment he chose to go like this. He didn't care about the sickness, his exposure would be limited.

Syxx dipped his head once to greet his fire team. "Is everyone ready?"

As no one answered, he nodded again. "Open the airlock."

They all stepped into the chamber silver chamber, and waited for the airlock to seal. Shortly after the door to the rest of the complex opened the smell of burnt air filled the room. The black fox pulled his bandana up over his muzzle, above his nose, and tied it up, tightly at the back of his head, tucking it below the strap on his goggles.

Syxx pressed his paw to the side of his ear, pressing it to his communicator as the blast door swung open from the Marines on the main floor. "Falco, how long until you're in the air?"

Falco's voice buzzed over the headset. "We'll be airborne in thirty minutes."

"Copy." Syxx looked over his shoulder at his squad. "Sargent Porter, get us to the garage."

"Sir." She walked out into the halls of the complex. They had done some cleanup since Syxx had last been through here. The halls were still dirty with the red sand of the apocalypse that blew through halls of the building every time a door to the over-watch opened. They hung a light at every corner in the halls, and doorways were blocked or boarded up. Some were barricaded with desks and chairs.

It wasn't long before they were at the shop. As the doors opened, there was a bustle of people working and the sounds of air guns, torches, hammers and wrenches as mechanics worked away on what Syxx speculated to be pieces of space craft. It was well lit, with large lights hanging from the ceiling. Each small window to the outside had a bright orange glow to it giving the room a strange sepia tone when it mixed with white-blue plasma lights. Their vehicles were at the back of the massive shop. They were all ready to go; some had headlights on and were already running. The large boxy wheeled APCs had their floodlights turned on.

"Saddle up Marines." Said Syxx. "Pryo, you and me will take point in one of the trucks. We'll lead the way. Everyone stay close. You'll be seeing some ugly things. Be ready for anything."

Pyro and Syxx both got in one of the trucks. Syxx wrapped his paw around the roll bar of the cage, and stepped on the tire. He hoisted himself into the small cargo box of the truck. He placed his army boots down on the bed, and put one paw on the roll bar to keep him steady as his stood in the truck box. It was a small green vehicle with large off-road tires. The vehicle was built like a cage with roll bars guarding the cab which was open besides that.

As Pyro touched the key, the truck whistled to life as the engines started. It let out a high drone as the engines warmed. Syxx spun on his heels in the bed of the truck, looking back to see everyone mounting up in the APCs. Hatches on the top opened up and little silver heads looked out the top, and thick gloves wrapped around the handles and triggers of Gatling guns that sat mounted to the roofs of them. He heard the clicked and sliding of the weapons before each of the APC's started to howl. Flood lights flared up on the front of each machine. Soon as each unit was running the shop hummed with the life of engines, and as the black vulpine looked ahead of the truck, two Marines had grabbed onto the large shop doors. They each grabbed the handle and started to pull it open as other soldiers doubled in front of the door as it opened, taking knee with their plasma rifles raised and pointed into the abyss of red.

Syxx slung the SA2 Heavy Sniper Rifle over his shoulder, and drew his Blaster. He knocked the pistol grip of the handgun on the bar of the truck, while the other pulled his black goggles over his eyes "Move out." Syxx tightened his grip on the bar as the truck pulled forward. "Keep it tight don't lose sight of the unit it front of you. It's easy to get lost out here. Especially if a storm blows in."

A stream of confirmations came in over the radar, as the first vehicle drove out of the shop, followed by the rest of the convoy. Syxx took in his first breath of fully contaminated air, and coughed lightly. His throat dried out fast with the taste of burnt atmosphere. At least the weather was on their side today though, as he could see each and every black cloud in the bloody sky that cast a red haze over Corneria City. It wasn't far out until they started to drive past the bodies of first a few, then more and more, scattered through the parking lot. They rotted in the toxic sun that bleached exposed bone and freeze-dried flesh and fur. Any car that was in the lot was scattered with holes. Some smashed into others, upside down, burnt or just riddled with plasma bolts.

As they left the lot, the convoy made their way into the streets. It seemed that there were bodies everywhere; some were in piles, others just on the sidewalks, in cars, all sorts of places. But Syxx didn't care about the dead. His eyes were trained on the roof tops, and in windows. At each corner they took, he would stare down each and every street in either direction.

It wasn't long before they entered the residential areas, most of their journey would take place in these suburbs. Less high points for the crew to be ambushed from and less areas that traffic would have congested.

They rounded a corner, and slowed down. A large freight truck jackknifed on the road with a car in the driveway on one side and a stone retaining wall on the other. "Sh-t." The raccoon swore.

Syxx put his paw up to his ear to open his communicator. "Porter, make us a hole."

"Sir."

Syxx glanced over his right shoulder as the Gillis past them, with the sound of whining engines, roaring as the armour accelerated. The APC's armoured bumper smashed into the SUV with the sound of sheering metal and crashing glass. The black SUV jumped and tipped onto its side as the Gillis hit it. On the other side of the truck another Gillis smashed through the retaining wall, turning the brick to dust. The soldiers on the turrets scanned around as they made their way through. Pyro followed one of the vehicles through, and accelerated in front of them taking point again.

A voice cracked in Syxx's ear. It was Falco. "We're on station, Ground." Just as the voice stopped, Syxx's ears lowered from the sound of fighters screeching overhead of them, making a low pass and pulling up as they flew past the convoy. His eyes followed the smoke trails of blue and white as two Arwings pulled past them, and the Freon hovered above and behind of them.

Syxx crouched in the truck a little, lowering his head. "Scout ahead. Relay any movement."

"Roger."

As the sounds of the Arwings faded off another sound came from behind him. Syxx looked up into air and above and behind them was a silhouette of what looked like a giant dragonfly almost. He could see under each wing, heavy weapons platforms and cannon under the nose. A smooth female voice came over the radio. Krystal. "Fire support online."

Syxx growled into the microphone. "Falcon One. Over-watch the convoy from a distance. Observe and report."

"Copy, Syxx."

As they got closer to the police station they entered the outskirts of the core of the city. A place where buildings began to get taller around them, mostly two story but they were close to the streets, perfect ambush points. Syxx's sharp eyes searched the windows, when the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

"Ground, this is Falcon-One. We're getting multiple signatures on thermals in windows surrounding the convoy."

Even Pyro was looking at the rooftops. "Syxx…"

The black fox grit his fangs. "I see it." He opened the communication network. "This is Syxx." He looked into the windows as he started to see shadows in them. He could see figures wearing gas masks, scarfs, and coats. He could see some with rifles but none were pointed down at them. "We're being watched from both sides."

Pyro turned the wheel, going around the obstacles. "Everybody just keep your cool. No point in stirring the nest. We're just passing through."

Syxx tapped his boot on the bed of the truck in impatience. He kept the Blaster in one paw, with the side of it pressed to his chest, as if to hide it against his body a little. He didn't like being watched like this, but soon they passed through, without a single shot fired. But it wasn't long before his sharp ears flickered, and even over the sounds of the trucks in the group he could head the clapping of plasma rifles and the echoes of civilian owned projectile weapons.

Syxx pressed a finger through his glove tip to his ear. "Falco. Please advise."

The falcon's voice came over the network. "The police station has been engaged by rebel contact. We can't do anything up here without risking friendly fire!"

As soon as that came over the communication grid, Pyro picked up the pace, and the rest of the convoy was soon to follow, double timing it to the RV point.

Syxx coughed over the microphone. "CPD, this is Extraction. We'll be on your doorstep in thirty seconds."

"Please hurry!" was the only response that came over the channel.

As they rounded the next corner, they could see the muzzle flashes of a firefight at the end of the next block. Pyro put more fuel to the engines. Syxx's ears slid back from the whistle of them. He quickly looked over the pistol, and flicked up the safety with his thumb. "Weapon's free!"

The convoy seemed so mighty at that point. Syxx ducked in the back of the truck box, holding one arm over his head as he watched Pyro speed toward the barricade around the station. The army truck crashed through the makeshift barrier of dumpsters and cars around the front doors of the station. The truck caught air as it drove up the steps toward the front door. The APC's were right behind them as the other small truck followed up the stairs right behind them, and parked right next to them. The Gillis bounced up the stairs to the station, and created a semicircle of armour around the doors. Hatches on the tops of the armours opened up, and fingers landed on triggers, as turrets spun. The crew went to work swiftly as barrels lit up sending plasma in all directions. Bay doors of the APC's opened up as Marines took knee at the door with rifles up, not hesitating to open fire at anything that moved in their sights.

Syxx leaped from the vehicle to be met with Sargent Porter at the doors to the shelter. He barked at Porter and Pyro. "You know the plan, make sure everyone gets out- alive!" As the two soldiers went to work Syxx ran up to the front line, putting his back to the armor, tucking his tail back as the sounds of bullets and plasma bolts whizz over his head.

He drew the sniper rifle, and violently slid the bolt back and forth. He set his boots to the pavement firmly and took a deep breath. With his back set against the APC, he took a few long breaths. He calmed his mind, and the world around him seemed to slow down. A smile almost crept up his muzzle, as he breathed slowly and calmly. His thumb flipped the safety on the rifle. With lightening reflexes, he rolled his shoulder around the corner of the APC, raising the scope to his eye at the same time, holding his breath in. He locked the crosshairs of the scope onto a silhouette and pulled the trigger. The rifle barked, and kicked his shoulder firmly, and as the weapon's recoil back off he was just in time to see the figure fall as the scope landed back on it. Syxx settled back under the cover just as fast as he had come out.

He cycled the bolt again, and stepped back out of cover. His eye caught a tailed figure with a rifle dart across the street a few blocks down. The Slayer held his breath steady, and side-stepped as he looked down the scope, leading the running figure. He pulled the trigger, and watched him collapse, rolling to the ground. Syxx smashed the bolt again, sending a black cylinder to the pavement. As his eye caught each target he dropped it, swiftly. He acquired each one so fast, using the sniper as effectively as an assault rifle, but from extreme range.

As he fired the last shot in the mag, he took cover, opening the bolt, and dropping the mag out just as fast as a new one slid in. He pulled the rifle close to his chest. Syxx was a better sniper than any soldier in the military, but he once knew a fox that was better than him. Who was better than anyone. Every time he looked down the scope of an SR, every time he caressed a sniper, he thought about her. He was forced to. He could see her face, as he pushed the weapon further away from his chest. He stayed frozen for a moment. This had never gotten to him before. He always thought about it, but it never fazed him. Maybe the Krazoa, was making him see things differently now.

Syxx pulled the sniper to his chest very tightly. "Falcon-One, requesting air support! Danger close! Don't screw this up, or people die!"

Krystal tightened her grip on the controls and bared a fang over her lip. The first words that he had directly said to her, and they were criticism. Her fingers landed on triggers and she growled back through her headset, choking to get any words out of her maw without sounding upset. "Standing-by."

Syxx watched a Marine step backward as he tried to get back around the carrier for cover when Syxx heard a loud thud, and the armored cat fell onto his back. The Slayer reached out and grabbed the man by the collar of his suit pulling him around cover, the soldier moaning and kicking his feet to get back around the corner. The Slayer looked at the tall office building.

She could see Syxx below her, through her monitor as he dragged the wounded Marine back to cover. He peaked around the side of APC and slid back quickly. "Sniper! tenth story balcony!"

Slippy roved the ship around in the air, closer to the office building. Krystal scanned through her scopes. She searched through the windows trying to find the target. She kept looking but couldn't find anything through the glass of the tower. She sighed in frustration. "Having trouble locating the target, Fox."

The man's voice came back through the radio muffled by the white noise of gunfire and explosions, along with the tactical communication of nearby soldiers. He barked at her loudly, and in impatience. "Then level the building!"

Krystal bit her lip and looked back at the convoy, then to the tilted building. She hesitated. "R-roger that."

Syxx watched the shuttle spin the sky. He wasn't sure if she was actually going to do it, even though he ordered her too. He could hear the Nova Racks spooling up on the wings of the shuttle even over the sound of its hissing engines and weapons fire. In just a second the wings on the craft appeared to light on fire, as Nova's launched from the racks, spinning toward their destination, and all meeting up in the same place at the same time at the base of the tower. The windows in the first two floors smashed out of the building, as the base of the structure lit on fire. The sound of creaking metal, twisting and shearing filled the air with loud cracks of steel and concrete. The building shifted, making the entire ground rumble and any remaining windows crash out. It started to tip over slowly.

The vulpine eyes went wide. "Heads down! Heads down!"

The gun fire almost came to a complete stop. As Marines, Officers, and civilians alike found places to take cover in the APC's. The building tipped over onto its side, crashing across the street and into another tower. The ground shook and pavement under their feet cracked. A cloud of dust raced down the street toward them just as all the doors to the carriers shut. A blast of wind came with the dust, as Syxx and a few other Marines were enveloped in the toxic cloud.

"Let's pack it up!" He could hear the communication system through his ear piece.

Syxx couldn't see a thing through his goggles. He stuck to the armored side of the APC, with his paw against his ear as he listened. He started coughing hoarsely from the dust seeping in through his bandana. He felt his paw around the side of armour as he walked along it, he had no idea where he was or where to go, when he felt an arm wrap around his, and pull him aside. He could only see the shadow but knew it must be Pyro, with the strength to nearly throw him in into the back box of the army jeep. He wrapped his arm around the roll bar as the truck took off, and caught up the rest of the convoy. The fox pressed his back into the box covering himself from any stray bullet fire.

As the truck drove out of the smoke, plasma rounds followed them. Syxx pressed his back into the truck, and shot into the cloud of smoke and dust. He lowered his pistol after the first corner. The vulpine coughed, pressing a paw to his chest, finding himself short of breath. He crawled up using the roll bars, and stood back up in the box. "Status."

Porter came over the channel. "All personal secured and accounted for."

Syxx took a sigh, resting his chest down on the roll bars. He ran his paw through his white hair, slicking it back and sliding red dust from his fur. He almost laughed. "F-ck."

Pyro glanced back over to him. "We're not out of this yet, Syxx."

The rest of the ride was silent, until they came back through the strip malls, where the convoy could feel the eyes looming down on them. Back to being so uncomfortable, he was scared to pull the trigger, and he was also scared not to, feeling sights line up on his forehead.

The dark Slayer watched the windows. His paw tightened around the grip of the rifle, when a flash caught the cornet of his eye. Fire. That's when bottles rained down from the building tops and gun fire started. Molotov's smashed on top of the APCs, lighting the plating on fire.

The jeep lurched forward. "Hold onto something, dark fox!" Pyro barked. The small truck hit a bump, and Syxx's chest bounced off the roll bar, and his rifle bounced out of his paw, and onto the road, while Syxx bound his paw around the bar and the other one reached for his side arm. He regained his balance, and fired into the windows as best he could in the swerving vehicle with one paw on the grip of the weapon.

"The convoy is too close to the targets we cannot supply air support!" Krystal said over the communication system.

They dodged and weaved their way through the bullets, when a car appeared from around an intersection, being pushed into it, by the militia's infantry.

"Hold on!" Pyro barked

The truck tipped as the raccoon spun the wheel and tried to avoid the car. The left front wheel of the jeep clipped the car and the jeep was thrown onto its side, sliding across the pavement, until hitting the curb, putting the jeep back onto its wheels for a moment before sending it into a barrel roll. Both Slayers were tossed from the vehicle. Syxx could feel himself grow airborne before he rolled across the pavement onto his side. The jeep came to a rest shortly beside him. A Gillis smashed through the car that had been rolled into the intersection and slowed down to a near stop where the Slayers had crashed.

Syxx winced and breathed heavily. "Don't stop! Keep going! We'll catch up."

The APC whistled as it accelerated past them. Syxx could hear from above as the Freon's weapons came to life, and fired rained down onto the rooftops. Syxx rolled onto his shoulder, before taking cover at the side of the tipped jeep, and peeking his head out around the side of it aiming down the sights of the Blaster at the shadows on the street and in the windows. He covered his forearm over head as the windows shattered out of the buildings and each one pulsed with a cloud of dust. The cannons from the gunship rattled as they ripped apart walls and rooftops.

Syxx growled into the microphone. "Cover the convoy, leave us!"

Krystal's voiced paused over the system. "S-Syxx we'll provide cover until you-"

Syxx bark-growled into the headset. "That's an order! Pyro and I will catch up!"

Syxx brought himself to his feet, and turned around to the other side of the green jeep, seeing a silver figure. Something was wrong with it though. The armor looked nearly new. No scratches, no dents, no scuffs; and it was taller than Pyro would be. It was a Vortec armor, but this was not Pyro. The fox lifted his gun, and fired at the same time the armored glove reached his arm, pushing it down with incredible force, driving his shots into the pavement. The armored figure pressed his great glove to Syxx chest and shoved him backwards before kicking him with his armored boot. Syxx rolled across the street yet again, and slid into the gutter, he lifted up his arm and burst the Blaster. Three swift shots all made contact with the suit. It sparked and the figure fell to its knee. After that, all was quiet as Pyro placed his boot on the other figures back and pressed him down to the cement, with his rifle muzzle to neck of the suit.

The raccoon looked up through his mirrored visor. "You good?" He glanced up at Syxx.

The fox nodded once and got off the ground and looked up into the windows above, there was silence. Complete silence. "It looks like one, but it doesn't fight like one. This is no Slayer."

The raccoon pressed the nose of the weapon into the softer Kevlar like fabric around the neck, smiling behind the glass. "Take it off."

"Alright! That will be enough."

A voice came from the shadows of the alley. Syxx quickly lifted up the muzzle of his pistol, putting his other paw around the base of the Blaster. His teeth were out behind his bandana, and his digit held the trigger half in as he stared down the iron sites, locking in the chest of a shadow that was approaching him. He hunched his shoulders slightly, and walked quickly forward toward the figure. Pyro planted his boot firmly on the back of the figure in the Vortec, and rose up his weapon to the approaching figure, locking it in on his reflex sights.

Syxx shifted the barrel of his Blaster. "Drop it."

A man with a ring tail came from the shadows. A gasmask covered his muzzle, face, and eyes. A Plasma Rifle was visible in his paws, and he wore an older radiation suit covered with a thick brown coat, and camo army pants, black boots and heavy work gloves. Grey and black ears poked up through his hood and his backpack hung off one of his shoulders.

The mystery man started to speak. "Nev-"

Three shots rang out, as Syxx tapped the trigger of the Blaster. He aimed at the ground in front of the man, as the Blaster flashed and rang out, sending shards of cement and dust into the air, lightly showering the man in shrapnel. He lifted the Blaster again with a smoking barrel, and trained it back to the chest of the man, who held up one arm to shield himself. As he slowly lowered his arm, Syxx flicked the Blaster, held with his one paw, motioning the barrel toward the ground. Syxx tilted his head to one side, almost as far as it would go as he stared at the man.

The man lowered his arm all the way, and tossed the weapon to the side. The black fox walked toward him quickly, and forcefully pressed the barrel of the weapon into the man's stomach, and twisted it. His other paw wrapped around the filter of the gas mask and pulled it down sharply, sliding it around his neck, off his face.

Syxx let out a huff in a brief laugh. "Look at you, huh?" Syxx looked over his shoulder at Pyro knowing who would be in the suit. "Managed to get your hands on some military hardware. You know how dangerous it is to use a Vortec without physical enhancements." He let go of the mask. "Pyro, you and Felan flip the truck back over… if he's still alive. Ramirez help them out."

Pyro smirked, and let down his rifle. He grabbed the armour of the Vortec and pulled the man up. "He'll be fine. Those plasma bolts are gonna leave some marks though."

Syxx put his paw up to the edge of his ear. "Control, this is Syxx. We're en'route. We got a hand up from some military personal. They'll be accompanying us back to the base."

The voice that came in to reply seemed distant. It was crackly, with a poor connection. "Porter has filled me in Syxx. Good job." There was a long pause. "The fate of system has always been in your hands, and that's where it will remain. You've got lead, Apex."