A/N: As noted, this will be the final chapter posted on this account. Once again, thank you to all my readers for their support and kind words.
Sarah touched down in Geneva, finding it completely unlike what she had found in Tokyo. Where Misawa and his GEARS had kept it much the same as it had been before Venjix had been unleashed on the world, Switzerland appeared to be very much how she expected it. It was desolate, a wasteland. No recognisable structures still stood, everything having been destroyed by Venjix's armies.
She performed a scan from her suit's computer, finding no trace of Venjix technology. Increasing the range of the scan, she found none anywhere within the city limits.
"Well that's one less thing to worry about." She muttered to herself. She performed a scan for energy in the area, and found a huge energy output from underneath her feet, and extending many miles."
"I guess I confirmed there is something underground." She commented to herself. "All I need to do is find the way in."
Meanwhile, in Angel Grove, Scott, Flynn and Ziggy were finishing up loading the jet with the help of TJ and Carlos while Cassie and Ashley watched on. Justin finally returned to the room with Dillon.
"Are you nearly ready to go?" Flynn asked him.
"Sure." Dillon replied, his hand straying to the dressing on his head. "I'm glad to get that stuff out of my head, but I'm really not looking forward to telling Summer about this."
"I guess it will be a little hard to explain the hole in your head." Scott commented. "Anyway, are you sure you guys will be alright?"
"I got off the communications link with Carter." Andros informed him, telekinetically lifting the last of the luggage into the jet. "We'll be fine clearing up a little until his relief team arrives."
"Well that's almost it for the American efforts." Ziggy said with a huge smile. "According to the latest figures, only about 5 percent of the North American Continent isn't secured."
"Well that's a relief at least." Flynn responded. "You guys keep in touch alright?"
"You know we will." Jason assured him, shaking his hand. Just then the communications link burst into life.
"Emergency broadcast, come in guys quick!" Summer screamed over the line. "Flynn, come in!"
"Flynn here." He responded, getting on the link. "What is it Summer? Is everything alright?"
"Flynn, get on that jet and get the afterburners burning right now!" She yelled at him. "Sam's gone into labour."
"Come on guys, we haven't a moment to lose." Scott instructed them, ushering them onto the jet quickly. "Sorry to bail guys..."
"Don't worry, we understand." Trini assured them. "Good luck Flynn."
"Thanks guys!" He replied cheerfully as Scott fired up the engines, closing the door.
Back in Geneva, Sarah found what she was looking for. The building was lying in ruins, but the high, barbed wire lined fences indicated that at one time this installation had been a secure facility. Making her way up to the fence, she activated the telescopic vision on her helmet, checking out the lay of the land. She smiled at what she saw.
"If this is a ruin, then why are the cameras still working?" She asked herself. Just then, she saw a couple of men walking by. They were armed. Upon closer inspection, she realised they were GEARS. "I guess I've found the right place."
With that, she brought forth her wings, and took off, soaring over the fence, swooping across the courtyard, taking down the GEARS quickly. Knowing that in this time, they were nothing more than animated corpses, she held no worries about killing them, knowing that the only way to defeat them was to render them incapable of continuing.
She retracted her wings, folding them into the cargo bay in the back of her armour as she turned to look at the structure they were defending. It was an elevator, and by the looks of things, it was still active.
"I guess by now everyone knows I'm coming anyway." She stated, using the powered gauntlet to tear the control panel off, allowing her access to the inner workings, re-routing the security on the elevator to bring it to the surface. "I guess I have nothing to lose by using the front door."
As the elevator door opened, Sarah noticed that it was empty. She also knew that there was no way getting in was going to be that easy. She just got into the elevator, prepared for anything that the installation could throw at her.
Back on the jet, Flynn was pacing as they raced through the skies as quickly as they could. It was understandable that he was nervous. It was within the last month of her pregnancy, but Sam was still in labour a couple of weeks premature. He knew that the medical teams in Corinth were more than capable, and it wasn't as if he could do anything practical to help her right now anyway, but he still couldn't help wishing he was there.
"Flynn, try to calm down." Ziggy told him soothingly, trying to get him to stop pacing. "Sam's in good hands."
"You should listen to him." Dillon added quietly. "He has gone through this already."
"Tenaya also didn't exactly have a full medical crew to hand." Ziggy reminded him.
"Doesn't this heap go any faster?" Flynn snapped at Scott.
"I already told you, I can't activate the afterburners until we're above cloud level." He yelled back. "It's the safest way!"
"Then get above cloud level man!" He snapped.
"If we climb too quickly we'll stall!" Scott stated firmly. "Now for God's sake, get into your seat! If I hit the afterburners when you're not strapped in, we'll be scraping what's left of you off the back wall!"
Flynn reluctantly went to his seat, strapping himself in and beginning to chew his fingernails nervously. Ziggy put a hand on his shoulder comfortingly, hoping to ease him a little. He could empathise with what Flynn was going through; knowing that the woman he loved was giving birth to his first child. It was a cruel twist that it was happening while he wasn't there.
At that exact moment, in Corinth City, Summer was in the hospital, waiting for word from the delivery room. Another cruel twist was that Sam didn't have any living family other than Flynn. Summer wasn't able to go into the delivery room with her. All she could do was wait outside for her. She couldn't help holding a hand over her stomach, which was already beginning to show, and wonder whether perhaps she was fortunate not to see what was going on. After all, in only six months, it would be her turn.
She pulled out her communicator, glancing at it again to see whether there had been any further communication from Flynn. He obviously hadn't managed to get any further messages to them. If Sarah had been around, she would probably have told them how long it would take them to get Flynn to the hospital at top speed. That was yet another conversation she wasn't looking forward to having. Once Scott got back, she had to tell him that Sarah had left, and so far they still had no idea where she was.
So far all they knew was that she had visited Tokyo, and had destroyed the main office of the Misawa Corporation. SPD was in the process of securing Japan completely uncontested as a result of her efforts. Of course they were now in the situation that while they knew where she had been, they had no idea where she was going. Just like when she left, she had somehow managed to block any attempt they had made to scan for her. There was no way they could find her. Given what had happened in Misawa's office, it was clear that whatever she was involved in was dangerous, all they could hope was that she knew what she was getting into.
Her communicator sounded, drawing her attention. Summer fumbled to answer it.
"Hello?" She answered quickly.
"It's Scott." He informed her. "We're above cloud cover, and are hitting the afterburners. We should be there in a couple of hours."
"How's Flynn holding up?" Summer asked him.
"About as well as we can expect." Scott told her. "How's Mr. McAllister?"
Summer immediately slapped her forehead as she heard him say this. In her rush and panic to tell Flynn and get him and Sam to the hospital, she had forgotten all about contacting Flynn's dad.
"Sorry, I just had a blonde moment." She groaned, realising her mistake. Not only was Mr. McAllister the baby's grandfather, and almost as eager to hear anything about the birth as Flynn, he was also, through her marriage to Flynn, a relative of Sam's. He would be allowed into the delivery room. "I haven't told him yet."
Over in Geneva, in a lab several miles below ground, a woman was working on a number of computer systems. A man in a lab coat ran into the lab, stumbling as he went. She rolled her eyes as she heard him clamber clumsily up the steps to the platform her computer was on.
"Mistress, there's been a security breach!" He screamed at her. "Someone has accessed the elevator!"
"You useless idiot, I knew that 39 seconds ago." She sighed in exasperation, turning towards him. She had a slightly aged, wizened face, and long, silver hair. She wore a long, white lab coat, and thick glasses. As she stood up, she was shorter than the man, but he quailed in fear at her gaze. She looked at him in disgust, like he was something dragged in from a landfill site. "The intruder took out two GEARS and accessed the elevator."
"She's on her way down as we speak!" He shrieked. "Professor, what do we do?"
"I've activated the elevator's security system and put it on deadly force." She informed him. "Put the corridor on full lockdown, and send the GEARS to the entry hall. Just leave me and Prometheus to our research."
"Just go and don't bother me again!" She snapped, waving him off, before turning back to her work. The spineless toady turned and ran off to comply with her command. Good help was so hard to find, but then when you had the intelligence of Professor Baxter, pretty much everyone around you was an idiot. She transferred the footage to the entry bay to watch her troops fish the intruder's lifeless corpse...what was left of it anyway...out of the elevator.
As it opened, used bullets cascaded from it, the sentry guns having emptied into the confined space, and the thick, poisonous smoke billowed out, the tanks having vented into the elevator.
"Check the elevator." She told them. "I want confirmation of the kill."
As the first of the GEARS approached, an explosion sent a few of them flying back.
In the entrance bay, the next few GEARS approached the elevator slowly, the toxic air having no effect on them being reanimated corpses. As they got closer, they searched through the fog. Professor Baxter accessed their visual link, seeing what they saw. As they got close enough, she saw a dark, elliptical shape in the elevator. As they got closer, it opened up, showing a dark, winged figure inside. It appeared to be a person in some form of armoured suit. The wings sliced the first two GEARS in half as it opened up.
"Avon calling!" The intruder sneered sarcastically, launching into the attack. Professor Baxter just gave a dismissive snort.
"So you come to me with a battle rig and think that will bring me down?" She asked herself, turning a key on the system. "Time for you to find out what Prometheus is all about."
Scott plotted his flight path, calculating how long it was until he had to kill the afterburners and begin the descent back below cloud cover to communicate with the tower for permission to approach Corinth's airspace. As he checked his scans, he de-activated the afterburners.
"Alright guys, we're nearly there." He told them, beginning the descent. "We'll be on the ground in an hour."
"An hour?" Flynn roared. "What are you doing man? Can't we get there any faster?"
"We need to slow down to descend Flynn!" Scott reminded him. "I know this is hard, but you have to just stay patient!"
"My wife's giving birth as we speak!" Flynn reminded him. "Come on man, can't we go any faster?"
"If I land this thing any faster, I'll slam into the tarmac!" Scott informed him. "Is that what you want?"
He got onto the communicator, raising the control tower.
"Corinth control, this is the Red Ranger, requesting clearance to land." He announced.
"Red Ranger, this is Corinth Control, we have already been briefed on your situation." He heard Vasquez reply, getting a grin on his face. "Tell Flynn that Sam is at Central Corinth Hospital, and the helipad is clear. We figure that should be big enough for a pilot of your talents to land on."
"Thanks Vasquez." Scott told her. "Flynn, did you hear that?"
"I'm being quiet." He replied. "Just get me there, please."
Back in Geneva, Sarah worked her way through the GEARS that blocked her path to the main lab, before finding the security doors blocking her path.
She surged forward, slamming into the doors, buckling them ominously with her mechanically-enhanced strength. Preparing for another strike, giant, mechanical claws tore through the steel from the other side, and they flew inwards, allowing her inside. Sarah tried to get away as a metal tentacle came forward, but it was too quick, wrapping around her. She struggled against it as it pulled her inwards, slamming her against the roof of the chamber, then the floor stunning her, before bringing her into view.
Professor Baxter was sitting beneath a see-through dome of near-indestructible glass inside a gigantic robotic structure. It had caterpillar tracks for mobility, and four clawed arms. Six tentacles extended from the back, flailing around wildly.
"I have no idea who you are, but coming here was the biggest mistake of your life!" Professor Baxter sneered. Sarah felt the claw crushing the suit, feeling it tighten around her. If it wasn't for the armour, she was certain that it would have easily sliced her in half. "Meet Prometheus."
With that, Sarah found herself being slammed into the floor hard. Her visor flashed up numerous warnings of critical trauma, threatening her safety. This rig was powerful, so powerful it was putting the structural integrity of her armour. She knew her life was in danger, even with the Seraphim rig.
Sarah rolled aside, over and over as the arms and tentacles slammed down onto the floor, attempting to smash her into oblivion. She got to her feet just as a missile launcher emerged from Prometheus' body, firing a salvo. She avoided all the blasts she could, but was thrown hard against the wall.
"That armour of yours is impressive, but not impressive enough." Professor Baxter taunted Sarah. "Now, do you want to show me who you are before, or after I twist your head off?"
Sarah looked up, getting to her feet and recalling her helmet, cradling her ribs.
"I'm here to speak to your boss." Sarah announced. "I want information!"
Professor Baxter performed a scan, and smirked as the program came back with the results.
"It seems my little girl has grown up." She snorted. Sarah looked up into the dome in horror. Looking into Professor Baxter's face, she could see a resemblance, and despite her mind racing for any logical way this couldn't be true, in her heart she was certain that this was her mother. "You shouldn't be here Sarah."
"I want answers!" Sarah roared at her. "I came to speak with your boss, the senior partner. Misawa told me where to find you!"
She took a couple of slow steps forward, glaring at her intently.
"You owe me that much!" She yelled as tears rolled down her face. "You sold me! You stole my life!"
"You were nothing to me!" Professor Baxter stated coldly. "You were an experiment, the product of a reaction, the scum at the bottom of a beaker."
"I was your daughter!" Sarah reminded her. "Tell me what I want to know!"
"The senior partner does not exist. I had one of my lackeys wear a suit and sit in meetings in my stead." Professor Baxter informed her. "I am the senior partner."
"Then you're the one I need to talk to." Sarah replied. "You're the one that owes me my life back!"
"I owe you nothing!" She snapped back, two of the tentacles surging forward and wrapping around her arms, holding her in place, before slamming her into the wall. "You were merely an asset, one that went bad on us."
Sarah had heard enough. She now knew that if she was going to get the answers she needed from her mother, she needed to force her. A stream of ink launched from her breast plate, smearing over the bubble to block her mother's view, before launching power blasts from her gauntlets which created enough space for her to release herself.
"Do you really think I need to see you to fight you?" Professor Baxter asked her daughter. "I have..."
Sarah moved far too quickly for the much larger rig to respond. She fired off an explosive which tore off both the right arms, at which she landed on the back of the machine, grabbing the tentacles. Planting her feet against the back of the machine, she ripped them off.
Before Professor Baxter could finish, Sarah had launched another couple of explosives, destroying the tracks. The battle suit fell to the floor, sparks showering everywhere. Sarah used her razor-sharp wings to frantically slice at the dome, finally carving through. She found her mother inside, trapped in the structure. She grabbed her collar, strangling her slightly.
"Tell me what I want to know." She demanded. "Who did this to me?"
"I don't know, the CEO never let us know who he was." She screamed at her.
"Maybe the last partner knows." Sarah reminded her. "Where is he?"
"He operated out of Eastern Europe." She informed her daughter.
"I know that much already!" Sarah informed her. "Where?"
"He contacted us after the attacks. His facility was safe from the Venjix attacks because of the radiation." She recalled. "He said the background radiation..."
"Chernobyl." Sarah interrupted her. "The radiation in that area's been affecting the flora and fauna in that region since the meltdown."
With that, she turned to leave.
"Please, don't leave me here alive!" Professor Baxter shrieked. "You have no idea how ruthless these people are!"
"It's a bit late for motherly concern." Sarah replied coldly. "SPD will be here to arrest you shortly."
"Whatever you do, do not go to Chernobyl." She replied sharply.
"I need to." Sarah replied. "If you won't get me the information..."
"If you go there, you will have to face your family!" Professor Baxter interrupted her. Sarah turned to her in disgust.
"I have no family!" Sarah snapped. Professor Baxter just sneered at her one last time.
"Tell that to your sister." She replied, before activating a timer. Realising it was most likely a self-destruct mechanism; Sarah activated her wings, soaring through the installation. As she reached the elevator, she curled the wings around herself protectively and activated boosters in her boots, launching her through the roof like a missile. Her internal computer systems scanned, letting her know when she had reached the surface, allowing her to break through into the open air, just as the explosion ripped through the installation. The whole area sank down several feet as the installation collapsed in on itself. Sarah landed, taking stock of her situation.
The scans of her rig informed her that the battle had cost her dearly. As well as some painful injuries, some of her systems were damaged. She knew that the wisest solution was to simply return to Corinth for repairs and to recuperate.
It also hurt deeply to have met her mother, and confirmed finally what Misawa had told her. She truly wasn't wanted. She was merely conceived as a project for their think tank. The mistake her mother had made though, the thing that had cost her life was to underestimate her product. She had created her to be freakishly intelligent, but had not considered the possibility that Sarah would surpass her. Sarah had created the superior weapons system.
Considering her options, giving serious thought to simply giving up and going home, she remembered what Professor Baxter had told her. Not only was the last partner, the only one who might know where the CEO was still alive, but she had also told her one more thing she had to know the truth behind. She had a sister. Despite her knowledge it wasn't the smartest decision; she unfurled her wings and headed for Chernobyl.