Author's Note: I came up with this after re-watching the episodes Cold as Ice, Ascent of the Red Sentients – Part 2, and Hunt For the Magmatrox. Since putting Agura and Kyburi together usually results in sparks flying, putting them together and forcing them to work together would be very entertaining … you know, assuming they don't try and cross each other, which just makes it even funnier. =P
Disclaimer: I own nothing, save for the circumstances of this story. Hopefully Kyburi and Agura will forgive me for this.
Devil's Pact: Unease
As consciousness returned to her, Agura Ibadlen realized she had one huge migraine – which, considering the fact her impact had knocked her head into the cab's support struts, wasn't all that surprising. Though the structure of the Tangler looked like that of the average car, it was built of a metal that wouldn't warp from explosions, with glass that couldn't be shattered except from the inside.
Groaning, she sat up, thankful for her seatbelt. Unlike Vert, Stanford, and the Cortez brothers, she spent most of her time climbing walls, so she didn't have a single link holding her in her seat – she wore a four-point harness that Air Force pilots had in their fighter jets, and it had kept her from taking serious injury when the crevasse had opened. Her only injury was a superficial one – a large skin break where she had smacked her head, leaving a larger-than-normal scab on her right temple.
Her assessment complete, Agura leaned forward and cracked open her glove compartment, where she had stashed her first aid kit and emergency supplies. Concerned for the welfare of her friends since the beginning, Sage had insisted that the Battle Force 5 carry enough supplies to stay alive, in the likely event they were stranded somewhere in the Multiverse. As the Tangler was the second-largest "usual" vehicle, seconded only by the Buster and Gearslammer (which were, in turn, dwarfed by the Mobi), she carried enough to support five days on her own.
Ignoring the vacuum-sealed package of freeze-dried food, Agura removed the other bag and began pawing through what looked like half the medicine cabinet. Removing a large bandage, cotton pads, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, one of her seven water bottles, and a small Ziploc baggie of ibuprofen, she set about cleaning up her headbang and easing her migraine, using her rearview mirror to watch her movements.
Doing the mundane tasks helped the African-American feel at ease, like she was back at home with her parents or in the Hub, tending an accident on Earth instead of in this rocky, unstable Battlezone – more specifically, in a collapsed system of caverns that she had become trapped in; her and one of the Red Sentients. The longer she and the Tangler sat here, the better chance they would be able to find her before her friends could.
Finishing her maintenance – looking all the world like a pirate with her patch – Agura leaned forward and activated the Tangler's systems. It was anyone's guess if it would move, but her comm. system still worked.
"Vert. Come in, Vert. Status update."
She got no reply. She repeated it two times more, then switched to trying to contact the Cortezes, Zoom, and Stanford. As a last resort, she tried to raise Sage, but she only got static.
Alright, I can't expect help from those fronts. Time for Plan B.
Flipping on her headlights, Agura examined the small cavern she was inside. She had been tucked inside an alcove when she had awakened, which had protected her from falling rock. The whole place was the size of the Mobi, and there was one tunnel going northwest.
Holding her breath, she turned over the engine. Without even a splutter, the Tangler roared back to life.
"Bless you, Sage," she whispered.
Wrapping her hands around the toggles, she began directing the ATV over the rubble towards the exit. She had things to do – first to find the Red trapped with her, and then look for a passage back to the surface. Her scanners indicated that it was three-quarters of a mile below the surface down here, so there was a possibility of finding a pool of water to keep her supplied.
And if all she found of the Red was a shattered shell, so much the better.
Her dash clock told Agura that it was 5:20 in the afternoon by Earth standards, but the African-American wasn't sure how timed flowed in this Battlezone. It had been roughly 3:30 when they had entered what Spinner had dubbed the Crevice Zone, and 3:48 when she had been caught in a cave-in of one of the huge plains of crumbling shale. When the Tangler's systems had reactivated, the clock had read 4:46, meaning she had spent over half an hour combing the interweaving tunnels, looking both for a way out and for the Red trapped in here with her.
There was one thing he took comfort in: Krytus was not the one in here; she knew he had been wrapped up in a fight with Vert when she had fallen. It was a small saving grace, but it didn't mean much when it meant one of the other members of his crew were down here. She didn't know who exactly had fallen with her, as all of the RS5 had the same color scheme, but if it had been Kytren, she most likely had nothing to worry about; the Vylirex didn't offer much protection for its rider. Kysosys, she estimated, had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving; Krylox was almost certain to make it unscathed.
Agura didn't want to think about to Kyburi, but if she, a more fragile Human, could live through this collapse, undoubtedly the vampire-like Sentient could too. She wished it weren't so, as there had been an instant enmity between the two ATV drivers when they had first crossed paths, and as Kyburi's Venikus had a stealth mode the Tangler lacked, she could be right behind Agura and the scanners wouldn't pick her up until it was too late.
On top of that, Kyburi was Krytus' First Lieutenant and supposed mate (the BF5 wasn't sure, as they only had audio exchanges for evidence). If she was indeed down here and had not Respawned, Krytus would probably try to find her personally.
As if to accent that thought, the Tangler's headlights flooded a cavern smaller than the one she had revived in. Technically, that one had been five miles due south of this place, but the tunnels didn't go due south.
Pulling inside slowly and cautiously, Agura triggered her scanners. While they weren't nearly as through as those in the Buster, they worked for her. After Krytus had been released from the Krypt Zone, Sage had upgraded all of their systems to detect traces of Red Sentient Antimatter within a three mile radius. At her request, the Blue Sentient had pushed the limits of that program for the Tangler, making it possible to compare the readings with samples taken from broken shells. They allowed the Human Hunter to identify the readings as vehicle or Sentient, and then find out who was the owner.
When she activated this program now, the fine-tuned scanners picked up a trace amount of vehicle Antimatter. Much to Agura's irritation, it matched that of a six-legged ATV-monster truck hybrid.
Kyburi was down here. Whether she was still in the tunnels remained to be seen, but the Alpha Hunter had been the Red that had fallen with Agura. With the reading lodged in the Tangler's system, the vice-commander of Battle Force 5 triggered the secondary function of her sensors, allowing her vehicle to scan the environment for matching traces of Antimatter, and then deduce actions from the patterns.
With the more sensitive function triggered, a sunburst appeared where the first reading was, indicating the destruction of the Venikus, if only temporarily. While bright, it lacked the deeper shade of red that indicated Kyburi's shell had been fatally punctured, meaning the female Red Sentient had survived the crash into the caverns. A smaller, less-vivid splotch showed where Kyburi had reformed her vehicle; a trail led from that area – across the ground, up the opposite wall, and …
Like a mammoth, mechanized, scarlet-silver spider, the Venikus dropped down from the ceiling, where it had been dangling on one of its grapple lines in stealth mode. Too late, Agura looked up to see the six-legged car diving fangs-first for the Tangler; before she could rev her engines and get out of the way, Kyburi had her, fangs sinking deep as the skeletal wheels wrapped around the limbs of the Human's vehicle.
The functions of the Venikus took hold immediately. Red flowed over the Tangler from the fangs' puncture points, sapping electricity from the green car and draining it into the Alpha Hunter's vehicle. Agura tried to activate the defensive countermeasures she had implemented, but Kyburi's surprise attack had already sucked too much out of the Tangler; that and the hold it was in made it – for all practical purposes – paralyzed.
Agura hated feeling like prey – she was the one who was supposed to hunt, not be hunted.
Abruptly the draining stopped, but the Tanger was still paralyzed. With a loud THUD!, Kyburi herself dropped out of the Venikus' cab and landed solidly on Agura's windshield, glaring through the glass at the dark-skinned Human that was the thorn in her side. As always, Agura was struck by the appearance of her Red Sentient counterpart. After battling the Red Sentient 5 for nearly six months, one might expect her to have grown used to them. However, the Reds were like demons in appearance and manner – one good look was not enough to take in the details.
It didn't help that the Respawn Chambers the RS5 used made minor differences between each shell the owner generated. As she returned Kyburi's glare, Agura noted that the Alpha Hunter's sulfurous eyes were now shaped like almonds, instead of the cat-slits they had been last time they had fought. It was impossible to tell if her tribal-tattoo patterns had changed – like a tiger's stripes, none of the Reds had the exact same pattern – but the spider-like Hunter symbol that designated her specialized traits was still branded over where a Human's sternum would be. As energy lifeforms, Sentients of any color lacked the internal structures of carbon-based organisms, allowing their life force to be tied to a Respawn Chamber.
Agura forced herself to push aside what her studies into Sage's databases had taught her and focus on the situation. Pulling back on her joysticks, the African-American teen dropped her seat down on the convenient lift so she could get out of the cab. As she descended, she grabbed the weapons Sage had provided her in case of close-combat situations. Originally, only Vert and Zoom had had them, since they were the most likely to go hand-to-hand, but after Agura and Kyburi had grappled over the fate of the Magmatrox, Sage had designed a pair of gloves outfitted with claw-like electric dischargers, able to take down a Vandal if she landed a punch.
Rolling out of the seat, the Second-in-Command of BF5 finished pulling on the gloves just as Kyburi dropped onto the ground five feet away, crouching in a way that sheltered her stomach area, one hand placed on the earth for stability, the other held up and behind in a threatening display of her hooked claws, which could steal the life force of anything unfortunate enough to get caught on them.
Agura balled her hands into fists, but her opponent simply rose to her stiletto-heeled feet (why an Alpha Hunter would have high heels built into her anatomy was beyond the tomboy's comprehension), folding her arms over her chest. While her aggressive expression didn't change a bit, the fact remained: Kyburi was not making a move, attacking or defending herself.
When it came to hunting or competing against her teammates, the teen was guided by a code of honor similar to Vert's when he was wielding his sword. When it came to fighting an enemy, though, Agura was a no-holds-barred warrior. Kyburi standing before her was just an invitation to land the decisive blow – which might just be what the Red Sentient wanted; to be sent back to her Respawn Chamber and escape this Battlezone the easiest way she could.
Of course, that didn't fit with the ambush, but maybe Kyburi was unable to deal fatal damage to herself consciously. Whatever it was, Agura just wanted this smirking show-off out of her face; if Kyburi was willing to take the blow, she'd gladly deliver it.
Charging forward, she swung out her fist – only for her fist to get caught in the Red Sentient's long-fingered grasp. With reflexes faster than any Earth creature, Kyburi had disengaged her arms from their folded position, caught the force of Agura's fist, and – seizing the front of the Human's green battlesuit – held her up in the air, toes just barely brushing the ground.
"I was willing to let you leave this place, Human," the Sentient growled, vocal tones just low enough to be menacing. "But perhaps you are more suicidal than I thought you were."
Normally Agura would take offence from such a comment, but her surprise about what had been said stalled her. Kyburi was going to let her go?
"Nice way to say 'I'm not gonna fight,'" she snapped back. "I never thought you Reds had any pity."
Kyburi hissed angrily between her teeth. "Don't talk to me about pity, Human – we have no pity in us. It is why you will fail in the end, no matter how valiant your attempts to defy us. But Krytus will not be pleased if I break my shell and Respawn when I have you now."
"Get to the point, Kyburi," snapped Agura, refusing to back down even with those dangerous claws millimeters from her throat.
"I am giving you a choice, Human," snapped the female Red, gripping the front of Agura's battlesuit tighter as the Sentient hoisted her counterpart up so she couldn't touch the ground anymore. "You have three options. Option One: You accompany me to the surface of this Battlezone, and we settle the score there. During the time interim, we do not attack each other."
Agura snorted; Kyburi narrowed her eyes. "Option Two: I kill you quickly, take your vehicle back to my homeworld, and access the coordinates to Earth from your systems. Option Three" – the Red Sentient grinned, fangs gleaming – "I kill you slowly and painfully, until you tell me what I want. Make your choice."
The dark-skinned woman wasn't long in firing off a criticism. "Just how do I know you'll stick to your promise when I pick?"
"You don't," her arch-nemesis returned. "But an Alpha Hunter never breaks her word."
Agura somehow doubted that – she trusted her enemy about as far as she could throw the Mobi – but Kyburi would gleefully fulfill her promise if she picked the violent options, and in any case she had to protect Sage. If she were to have any chance of making it home, she would have to place her trust in the Sentient's oath.
"Option one," she said out loud, keeping Kyburi's gaze and glaring at her, "but I've got my eyes on you."
Like the whole thing was a big joke between old friends, Krytus' First Lieutenant dropped the Human back on the ground with a slightly unhinged laugh. "As do I, Agura Ibadlen."
As she walked towards the interlocked vehicles beside her enemy, Agura wasn't sure what unnerved her more: that Kyburi hadn't been more disappointed that she skirted the lethal options, or that she knew her full name.
A/N: While I admit this is highly unlikely, it's still entertaining to consider. The next chapter will be told completely from Kyburi's POV, then the rest of them will alternate POVs as I see fit. =P