Author's note thingy: As this is a sequel, be sure to read BOTH "One Single Tear" AND "Broken Ring" before reading this one, otherwise nothing will make sense. Just a heads up. =)
Chapter One: Initiative
A soldier was running swiftly through brightly lit metallic halls, already short of breath. He swerved between various workers and in and out of the doors, making his way to the elevator that was at the back of the floor. Many people stared after him, wondering what could be so urgent before carrying on with their own jobs. He accidently knocked down what appeared to be a scientist, quickly apologizing before running off again. When he reached the elevator he furiously pressed the second basement floor button, nearly jamming his own finger. He impatiently waited and nearly threw himself into the elevator when it arrived and ignored the looks from the people walking out of it.
He leaned against the back wall as it began its decent, removing his dark goggles and wiping his sweaty brow with his gloved hand. This was the first time in a mere week that they had received news as urgent as this. Even though he rarely had to, he never really liked running halfway across the Intel Headquarters to deliver news to his superiors. He wished that they would just send the message electronically, but ever since the incident a few years ago it was deemed "safer" to deliver important news personally. At least being one of the first to hear about something big had its thrills.
The elevator opened and he swiftly walked out of it and into a more dimly lit hallway. The walls and floor were covered with emblems containing GUN in their centers every few feet. After passing a few doors and rooms with thick glass walls he entered a room on the left, glad that the guards let him through without question. The room was filled with large glowing computers and monitors with people manning each station. But more importantly it had the man he was looking for, accompanied by a woman and staring up at the largest screen in the center of the room that displayed a map of a far-off region. He stopped behind the tall white-haired man and saluted.
"Commander!" He said breathlessly.
The man turned around as did the woman standing next to him. He stared down at him with fierce blue and brown eyes, raising an eyebrow at the panting soldier. The soldier felt his voice get caught in his throat, though he wasn't sure what it was. Something about The Commander's intimidating presence always made him hesitant with his words, whether it was the fact that he was speaking with the most superior of superiors, or the various lines on his face that showed that he had seen and dealt with more things than he had in his lifetime.
"What is it, Private?" He asked calmly.
The soldier drew in a deep breath. "I have more urgent news regarding Operation: Black Temple, sir."
Several interested people within the room turned their heads toward him. The Commander's eyes narrowed.
"What's the situation?"
"Our squads managed to push the enemy back into the Temple, but they immediately retaliated by sending out a large amount of the flying creatures. They attacked, and most of our squads were wiped out completely. The few that remained retreated back to the desert base safely. Our scouts have reported that the creatures were seen flying toward the mountains. Also, there has been another attack in the northern sector of Station Square, but no one has been able to gather evidence of who the perpetrator is."
The Commander held his head in his hand, taking all of the information in. He rubbed his temple with a frown.
"Three have been reported so far, and several dozen wounded."
The Commander blew out a sigh and stood rather still for several moments. Everyone within the room grew uneasy and waited for him to speak again.
"Is that that all?"
"Yes sir." The soldier replied, unrelieved.
The Commander shook his head and looked back up at the large screen in front of him muttering, "I can't believe this… Damn those monsters…" He gazed over the map as though thinking of the next course of action. Everyone stood silently as the bad news filled their minds and the feeling of unrest grew stronger by the second. The soldier stood still nervously, waiting for his next orders.
The Commander began to pace back and forth, his head tilted toward the ground. He continued the same way for a few minutes before looking at the woman with shoulder-length light brown hair next to him. She returned his gaze and straightened her posture.
"Go get Diego." He said sternly and at once she obeyed and left the area and down the hall to the left. The Commander moved to the right side of the room and examined one of the screens that showed another map of a different location than the main one. The soldier stared after her for a moment before turning to an analyst sitting at his station on his left, typing furiously on his keyboard.
"What's going on out there?" He asked.
"Black Arms, that's what." The analyst replied.
The soldier's eyes widened. "That's what those creatures have been?!"
"Yep. They're everywhere these days. They've been causing trouble for the last few months now."
"But I thought that Shadow guy destroyed the comet they were coming from!"
"He did. Even though he destroyed their source, many of the aliens were still left behind on the surface of the planet. They all retreated to the shadows after the death of their leader, hiding from the world. There have been rare sightings since then, but it hasn't been until now that they started causing trouble." The analyst stopped typing and spun around on his chair to face the soldier. "And as if they weren't enough bad news, now we've got something running around destroying towns on the loose. Both of these problems are starting to drain our resources and we're losing control. The world's falling into a panic." The analyst sighed heavily. "Where's Sonic the Hedgehog when you need him…"
"No kidding…" The analyst to his left agreed, turning to him. "But he hasn't been seen in over a year. I've heard that something terrible happened to him, but no one really knows for sure. It makes me wonder if he's completely forgotten about this part of the world. We could sure use his help right about now, along with his other friends. Now that I think about it, Shadow hasn't been seen in a while either. It's as if they vanished from this place…"
"Yeah, but that's not what really bothers me about this whole thing." The first analyst said, turning back to his computer. "What I don't understand is why the Black Arms are choosing to strike now. For a long time they haven't done a thing, but since that Temple was opened they've been all over the place. It's as if they were just waiting to be awakened by something at the Temple before they attacked. But I agree with you; we could really use their help right now."
"Perhaps it's a good thing that they're not around this time." The Commander's voice suddenly said. Several people turned toward him with frowns and confused looks on their faces. Those closest stopped what they were doing completely to hear what he had to say.
"As grim as the situation is, I think that this is the moment that we have been waiting for. For years we have struggled against various enemies, from Dr. Robotnik all the way to the Black Arms. Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends have saved the world more times than anyone can count, and as a result time and time again they have helped us out of the darkest of days, even when the world itself was splitting apart and seemed to be ending."
He paused for a moment and turned to the large screen with the map of the world. Everyone remained watchfully silent.
"Their deeds are great, make no mistake." He continued with a lower voice. "But we cannot depend on them forever. We are the Guardian Units of Nations. It's high time we prove to the world that we are worthy of that title. For too long we have sat idly by while our heroes take care of our problems for us. For too long have we have been seen as merely an annoyance to our enemies and not a force to be beckoned with." His eyes narrowed and his voice lowered further, holding his head low as if he were ashamed. "For too long we have failed to protect the people from harm. It's time that we return the favor to the world, and ourselves. If we don't take the initiative now to stop them once and for all, we will fail again, and we might as well disband our organization and everything it stands for."
He turned around and looked at everyone in the room, noticing the increase in the audience by the entrance of the room. He then raised a fist and his eyes became alight with the fires of determination. "I don't know about any of you, but I outright REFUSE to let that happen! I will not rest until the world has been cleansed of this scourge for generations to come! Just as the sun sets and darkness falls, so will there be dawn again. The people will someday walk the streets without fear or anxiety. This world will see the days of peace again, so long as GUN still stands!"
The Commander stood up tall, taller than ever before in all his years. A few cheers erupted from the crowd along with nods and clapping. A small smirk tugged at his mouth as the air had finally changed from a dreadful and defeated mood to a more confident and triumphant one. He looked at the doorway to see the woman return with a man following closely behind her. He was almost as tall as The Commander and had long jet-black hair wrapped in a ponytail and he wore a pair of thick dark sunglasses over his thin face. Even though he wore the same uniform as the other officers, his still appeared to be a darker shade than normal. He and the woman approached and stopped in front of him as people began to leave the room that had other business to attend to.
"You called, sir?" He asked.
"Diego, you need to personally head back to the Temple and increase your forces around the parameter."
The young captain looked taken aback. "With all due respect sir, but I don't think that it's possible at this point. We've already lost many men from guarding the place and the base is quickly running out of resources. At this rate we won't last any longer than another week."
"I realize that…" The Commander said. He faced away from him, moving toward the large map screen and looking at the landmass to the east. "But we cannot let whatever is in that Temple escape. Reports say that the Black Arms that we've seen coming from it thus far are merely grunts, and that a much larger, much more powerful creature lies within. We won't risk another expedition into the Temple since our forces are down. Until then, tell your men to guard the parameter, but do not under any circumstances enter the Temple. Nothing leaves or enters it. Deploy the Big Foot and Flying Dog squads should the need arise. Understood?"
Diego stood silently for a moment before saying, "Yes sir. Shall I leave immediately?"
"Only if you are ready. I don't want one of my top soldiers to fall in battle for pushing himself too hard. But you must leave by tomorrow at the latest. I will want reports on the state of our soldiers and supplies when you arrive there so we can plan our next move accordingly."
Diego turned on his heel and left the room at a quick pace. The Commander then faced the woman, who quickly stood at attention.
"Topaz, I want you and your scouts to follow the Black Arms that went to the mountains. Since the aliens were seen heading in that direction, there must be something of great importance to be found there. Find out what it is they're doing, but keep to the shadows. Once we know what their motives are, we will be able to stop them before they achieve their goal. And while you're at it, see if you can find out who or what this other nuisance is. The Black Arms are our first priority, but if this other threat continues to persist, it'll make everything more difficult."
"Yes sir." The woman said with a nod. "Should I call for her help again? She would be of much use to us if she were to assist."
The Commander looked to the side and held his chin in thought. These words were true, but he was ever mindful of the past.
"No. If her recent endeavors have shown us anything, she can no longer be fully trusted by us. She may have once been a powerful ally, but her little hobby has poisoned her mind and affected her work. This mission is of too much importance to set it in her hands."
Topaz lowered her head, almost as if she were disappointed. "I…understand."
"You may go. But I will want reports from you as well. If you discover anything, let intelligence know."
She silently left room, heading down the hall on the right. The soldier watched her as she left, noticing the letdown look on her face. The Commander then gave the soldier leave and he headed back toward his post at Intel Headquarters. He then checked with each of the hardworking analysts, slowly moving between them for any news or updates they had to share. His eyes repeatedly went to the various maps on the different screens, always watchful of the beacons that represented their forces.
For the next hour the room remained relatively calm and quiet, with scientists, officers or other analysts appearing in and out of the room. The Commander was ready to leave to inspect other areas of the Headquarters, but just as he was about to one of the analysts by the smaller screen to the right called for his attention. Hoping she wasn't about to relay more bad news, he somewhat reluctantly made his way over to her terminal. She had a local area map displayed on her screen of their base in the desert.
"What is it?" He said.
"Our satellites have picked up an unidentified personal on the outskirts of the base, spotted around this location…"
She pointed to an area on the west side of the base. She pressed a key and the map zoomed in closer with an infrared view of the area. There, represented as a bright white dot, stood someone, or something. It remained perfectly still as if watching or waiting. However, after several minutes the dot began to move west and toward the direction of the cities. The dot then vanished from the map and was no longer within range. The Commander frowned and stared at the map, hoping for the sakes of countless lives that the situation wasn't about to become more complicated than it already has.