Speckled Dust and Dark Shadows Ch 1

It was dark on a cold winter night. By the lack of a moon out I could tell that either tonight was ending or that it was a new moon. I was sure it was the previous. I looked at my wristwatch 0500 GUN Military time. Looking up I slowly crawl forward, the dirt and grim sliding silently underneath my stomach. As of right now, Operation SPARKTHEHAYSTACK is ago. My objective is to get inside the compound to the west of here and figure out what exactly is going on while destroying the weapons caches there. A rudimentary mission if one were to ask me. Now why they'd sent me in I'll never know. I crawled for another three minutes before I looked at my watch. Blackbeard should've been on station by know. I dropped my sunglasses over my eyes pulling up my HUD, I didn't see any friendly fireteams out there. I looked to the east and I could've swore I saw a blue silhouette against the darkness. I stared perplexed, wondering what I'd just seen. I shook my head, I could wonder once my mission was over. I rolled forward and started crawling again. I keyed my radio a moment later after still not seeing any sign of Blackbeard.

"Blackbeard this is Moonblood, status?" I whispered.

The comns stayed silent as I crawled along the grass in the new day's dew. It made me shiver and it soaked my ACU to the point of saturation. I ignored my body's sudden chill and pressed forward.

"Blackbeard this is Moonblood, status report over?" I asked again.

"Moonblood this is base, Blackbeard is unavailable at this time, break; orders are to proceed with the mission over,"

"Rodger that base, going radio silent, next contact in twenty mikes out."

I let the channel shut and started crawling again. This mission just got all the more harder now that I didn't have a team to help me if I got into a jam. Nevertheless I kept crawling. You know me as Moonblood at the moment, but that's not my real name, rather just a call-sign for this mission. I'm Shadow. Yes, that Shadow, the Ultimate Life-form Shadow. What most people of Mobius consider the worlds greatest anti-hero. This is my real job though. I'm a soldier, SpecOps if you want to narrow it down. I'm a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and I'm one of the absolute best. This mission however I will say was one of the strangest mission's I've ever embarked on. Robotnik was active again and this time he wanted to cause a Chaos Control for reasons unknown, probably to power more robots. My objective is to get in and shut down the facility, I'm to take Robotnik alive if at all possible. Finally I get to the edge of the brush. I look at my watch again. It's now 0512. I grin, perfect. Now I slip under a fence through a hole I'd dug yesterday. I always make preparations for any missions, even if it means visiting the A.O. a little early. Three days ago I hacked the cameras to start looping on command. I wiggled under the fence and pull myself through to the other side, bringing my M416 to bare. Peering around the corner, I can see a few mechs patrolling the building where the CIC is. I leave that alone, my objective is first the armory then the laboratories. I slide passed the patrol, a slick black shadow against the cold night. Before I make it to the armory I check my watch, 0513. I've still got time, good. I press my hand to the scanner and the door opens. I'd hacked myself into the system the same day I hacked the cameras. In a quick step I slip inside and set the cameras to loop. There's a single guard. Human by the look of it. I sling my rifle and draw my M6 combat knife, then slide behind him and take him to the ground quietly and quickly. I stow the body out of the way. I turn on the camera attached to my sunglasses and start recording what's inside the armory. It's typical gear in here, small mechs, guns, knives, bullets, stuff like that. I then spot something that looks somewhat like the Stargate from that old show from forever ago. I keep documenting and look at my watch, 0520. I radio in.

"Moonblood to base are you seeing this?" I asked.

"Affirmative, streaming Moonblood's live feed of a large weapons depot."

"Orders?"

"Plant a remote det-charge in the ammo supply. Make you're way to the labs and figure out what that Stargate looking thing is for."

"Rodger that base Moonblood is oscar mike."

The feed ends just in time for the door to open. I dive behind an ammo crate placing a pack of C-4 explosive on it. I peer over the crate. There's Robotnik and one of his robots, it looks like Bokkun.

"Doc. I understand inpatients but do we really have to be up this early?" he asks.

"Please Bokkun, I have to know if this ultimate warrior exists, if he does then he may prove useful."

Ultimate warrior? Is he referring to me? The Ultimate Life-form is my title after all.

"Alright, but if this backfires you're on your own."

"Initiate the start up script Bokkun."

The little robot starts entering commands on the gate's console. I hear a whirring sound and sense a steady rise in Chaos Energy.

"Gate stabilizing doctor. Open in three seconds."

I see Robotnik sneer and evil smirk. The arc-like gate starts to glow and a moment later I sense a sharp jump in Chaos Energy. What on Chaos green Mobius is this thing? I can only sit by and wait now. Out of no where a jet of molten magma fires out of the portal, prompting Robotnik to get out of the way which he does. The lava instantly cools and sitting on top of the cooling obsidian is what looks like a Mobian, in blue robes, he's a vulpine by the look of it, his fur is a strange shade of sky blue. His robes are charred from the ashes. I can also see he's bleeding from what look like slash wounds. Some warrior, he's so beat up that he's probably already dead. I make sure to record the whole event. I see Robotnik pick the Mobian-esque fox and carry him bridal style out of the armory after Bokkun shuts the portal down. I can sense however that the fox is in fact alive, he's just barely alive.

"Moonblood to base did you see that?"

"Affirmative Moonblood, divert objective, follow Robotnik and gather what intel you can."

"What about the labs?"

"Forget the labs, track that thing."

"Copy that."

I follow Robotnik. Thirty minutes tick off of my mission's clock and finally I managed to get into a building that serves as Robonik's medical wing. He set's the beaten-up vulpine into a stasis pod sets the oxygen mask over his muzzle and seals the pod before flooding it with medical cocktails.

"Start analyzing his DNA Bokkun." Robotnik orders.

"Right," Bokkun enter's some commands into a console nearby so fast it almost makes me jealous...almost.

"His vitals are stable doctor."

"We'll let him rest, and check on him at around seven."

"Going back to bed?" Bokkun asks.

Robotnik nods yawns and leaves the medical wing. Bokkun lags behind staring at the pod and finally leaves. I notice that they've stripped the male of his robes and folded them neatly on the table. I emerge from the shadows after they leave and start documenting the computer screens data. I then make sure to get plenty of shots of the vulpine in stasis. I look around and decide to go through the robes vulpine was previously wearing. I don't find any kind of identification in his pocket. I do find what looks currency of some kind, though I've never seen coins like these before. I store them back in the pocket I found them in. Though he came bursting out of a portal on a lava flow his robes aren't really that badly damaged. They seem just covered in soot and dust, the most burn I can see is on the sleeves, which really aren't that bad, they're scarred black though that'd probably wash out. I leave the robes alone after looking through them and walk up to the pod. I cross my arms.

"Who in the world are you? Are you friend or foe?" I ask no one really.

Out of no where though his eyes open and he's staring at me, with sky blue eyes full of fear and panic. He starts looking around and I notice on the console that his vitals have spiked. I motion him to calm down but it doesn't work. He continues thrashing until he accidentally knocks the mask off of his face. That's when I start to get worried.

"Hey, calm down man!" I say, "Put that mask back on and take a deep breath."

But he doesn't respond, instead he falls unconscious and just floats there. I run to the pod controls and drain it. The fluid rushes out of the bottom of the container and he slumps over laying against the side of the pod. I open the pod and bring his figure to the floor. Quickly, I start chest compressions. Right off I notice he's fairly lean. Lithe kinda like a runner but at the same time he's ripped with muscle. I keep at it, cause he's not waking up. After about two minutes straight I start to get worried that he's dead when a poultice of chemicals eject out of his mouth and he starts to cough. I sigh in relief.

"That's right kid just keep breathing."

I see by the look in his eyes that he's dazed and a little loopy. He clearly doesn't know what's happening. Then his sky-blue eyes blink twice and he sits up.

"NO GINGER!" he shouts.

"Shh!" I respond, "You've got to be quiet kid."

He looked around and then right at me, he backs away immediately.

"Who are you? Do you work for Giaus?"

I arc an eye ridge at that, "Who the hell is Giaus?"

"So you don't know who he is?"

I shook my head.

"Okay, then that means we won and he's really dead..."

I offer him a hand which he takes to get to his feet and he immediately covers himself.

"Your clothes are over there." I flick my thumb over my shoulder towards the counter where his robes are. He goes over there and dresses himself.

"Aharah isn't here. Fidget too."

"Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down a minute there. Who are you talking about?"

"My sword and a close friend of mine."

"Do you have a name?"

"Yes, three actually."

I tilt my head, "So what are you called?"

"Some call me Jin, others Cassius, but most people call me Sen-Mithrarin: He Who is Born of the Dust."

"Okay so Dust for short. Do you know where you are?"

He shakes his head no.

"Do you remember your mother's maiden name?"

"I don't have parents."

I start to hum in thought, "Where are you from Dust?"

"Elysium,"

Now I'm really lost, "You mean the place where Greek Heroes go when they die?"

"No, Elysium wasn't a place of death. At least not before General Giaus launched a campaign to slaughter the Moonbloods."

"Moonblood, Moonblood, we're showing a large number of hostiles closing in on your position over."

Dust takes a step back, "You're a Moonblood?"

I shake my head in denial, "That's my call sign, c'mon we've gotta get outta here."

Without questioning me, Dust follows me as the door bursts open and ten small mechs supporting a small group of humans all armed with AK74Ms storm inside looking for me. I motion Dust to stay quiet and we manage to slip outside before the alarm sounds.

"RUN!" I bark.

The two of us take off as Robotnik emerges from his quarters with a toothbrush still in his mouth and what looks like pajamas on. I ignore it.

"DAMN YOU SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG!" He curses as I keep running keeping Dust in front of me. I look over my shoulder and see multiple contacts closing in behind us. I draw my weapon and open fire. Two enemies drop instantly and I turn back to see Dust covering his ears. I force him to move to the fence where I came in.

"Go, through that hole!" I motion to the hole I came in through with my foot. Dust starts to crawl as I keep shooting disabling three of the mech and incaping two humans and a Mobian cat. When Dust is on the other side I flash-step to the other side know that now it doesn't matter is the base's sensors detect it. I motion to Dust to keep running as I whip out the detonator for the C-4 and click it. I hear a dull roar from behind us and feel a rush of heat.

"Moonblood to base, target destroyed, I have an HVI that need's evac now. Heading to primary extraction." I key.

I glance at my watch 0545. I see Dust lagging behind. I slow my run but not by much and drape him over my shoulder and take off at full speed which launches me at Mach 1 toward the primary extraction point.

"Copy that, evac is on station Moonblood."

I arrived with Dust on my shoulders whom is now scared shit-less. I put him on the seat and strap him in as our helicopter takes back into the air.

"What the hell is going on!" He shouts over the engines.

"You should really take a load off son, you look like you were just beat to hell and back!" I reply.

Dust continues asking questions which I try to answer but the helo's blades are making it difficult to hear.

"Hey!" I say cutting him off, "Just wait til we land, It'll be easier to explain without these blades going!"

A few minutes go by when chopper shifts. I noticed that out of the lead side is a group of jets flying out way.

"Enemy fast movers!" I shouted. They released their payload and veer skyward. I grabbed the nearest person and a parachute before bailing out of the side. What I noticed right as the missiles strike the helicopter was the person I was holding. Obviously Dust has never been sky diving before so...yeah.

"YOU'RE CRAZY!" He shouts as we continue to fall. I pull the chute and we suddenly decelerate so much so that I almost drop Dust. I managed to land us in a clearing about a quarter mile from where the chopper was when it got hit.

"You really are one crazy hedgehog." he tells me.

"Yeah yeah tell me something I don't know." I replied looking around and draw my weapon, "We aren't safe here, quick into the forest the secondary evac point isn't far from here."

Dust falls into step behind me as I rush into the woods.

"Keep your eyes open for any bad guys. They'll kill me and take you hostage if they find us I guarantee it."

Dust nods as we continue.

"Mayday mayday, this is Moonblood to base, our evac's toast, we're reverting to secondary extraction point."

"Copy that Moonblood, Titan three is heading to secondary extraction point. Out."

I pick up that the pace and continue ahead. I slide onto a road and follow it south and as soon as I sense something I spin around and point my rifle down the road. Only Dust is back there and he looks winded, like this is the most he's run in a long time. I motion him ahead.

"Just three miles to go Dust, c'mon we can make it!" I shout at him.

Dust pushed himself at that moment and passes me in time for a truck to come flying after us. It has an M240B on the top of the cabin and at least three or four men armed with AK74Ms. My eyes widened as I jerked my rifle to point at the driver.

"GET OFF THE ROAD!" I yell and open fire. Dust cuts to his left and disappeared into the brush.

I manage to hit the driver and the truck swerves to a stop after crashing into a tree. I keep firing killing two of the men but the machine gun operator jerks the weapon to face me and opens fire. I dive out of the way as bullets stitch along the dirt path after me. I don't let up. The gunner drops a moment later and I take off now having run out of bullets.

"Dust?" I call, "Dust?"

I don't get an answer.

"Dust where are you?" I call again.

Then I heard a scream and a body comes flying passed me. It crashes into a tree and slumps to the ground. Looking him over, it's one of Robotnik's men. I turn to see the very person I'm looking for walking towards me with a thick branch held in a reverse grip in hand.

"I told you to lay down your arms or be annihilated." Dust says pointing with the stick.

"What are you?" the male asks.

Before Dust can answer I spot the final person sneaking up on him. I squeeze the trigger and his head snaps back. Dust spun around to see the knife in his would-be assassin's hand. By the time he turned back though the man was gone.

"C'mon tough guy, let's get the hell out of here." I tell him.

Dust took the assassin's knife and looked it over.

"It's awfully small for a dagger," he commented.

"That's cause we don't fight with swords anymore kid, it's time you got used to one of these." I picked up a fallen AK74M and toss it to him.

"Quick pull the trigger one-oh-one, shoulder it."

That's when he pointed it at me.

"WHOA!" I said grabbing the barrel and forcing it away, "We're on the same team here."

He looks at me lost.

"Look along the top of the weapon, you see those two things in the back and that thing in the front how they line up?"

He nodded.

"That's your sights. What you're doing right now is called aiming down your sights. Focus on your foresight, which is this one."-I tap the AK's foresight, "And slowly squeeze the trigger."

He slips his finger into the trigger guard and slowly pulls. He jumps not ready when the weapon discharge, but at least he hits the target which was the tree he was now pointing the weapon at.

"This is all so strange to me. I'd prefer my sword." he says picking up his impromptu weapon and leaving the rifle.

I shrug, "Fine but don't expect me to cover your ass every time we get into a firefight."

We proceed to the extraction without another word exchanged.