THE ODDWORLD ALLIANCE:
DEATH AND REBIRTH

by Grid

The first part of a seven part epic, this is the story of Shred and how he leads a revolution... of the Slig kind.


Chapter 1

My name is Shred. To nearly everyone else, I'm just another Slig. We usually give ourselves names, just to keep us sane.

Constantly being called 'Slig No. 5742381' kinda pisses me off. Why did I call myself Shred? Well, it was my first day on the job, at Slicer Mills, a wood processing plant with loads of saws and a few wood offices for surveying Glukkons, and Boss Sligs, like Hammer. It wasn't very big or important, just used to cut down trees, mulch them, or send them off somewhere. But for us, it was training and experience for young Sligs like me, like how to handle Mud's (that's Slig slang for Mudokons) and guard stuff.

Mud's are my soft spot I guess. Sure, I dislike them like everybody else, but beating, torturing and killing them is too much for me. Enough is enough, and slavery is plenty.

My superior, Hammer, was teaching and showing me how to beat them up if they didn't work fast enough, or if you were bored. Hammer was ruthless. I may have already told you, but Hammer is a Big Brother Slig. And, he'd discarded his Blitz Packer for an enormous railgun.

The beating made me sick, and when he asked me to do it, I refused.
"WHAT?! DO IT, NOW! OR YOU'RE GOING TO SKILLYA!"

I sighed and half-heartedly banged the Mud over the head with the butt of my gun. The Mud smiled at me gratefully when Hammer wasn't looking.
"You're a real smartass aren't ya?" he sneered, and pushed me. All of a sudden, Big Brother Sligs seemed a whole lot bigger.

"Mudlover. You know what we do to Mudlovers?"

He took his railgun and pointed it at me. He fired and I dived. The spray of bullets hit an active saw, which flew off its rotator and and cleanly sliced off my left arm.

I screamed in pain and the log beside me was splattered in blood. The spinning saw flew onwards towards Hammer, who started to run away, and it took off his right arm, the one holding the railgun.

The Mud in the middle was too stunned to move, but he re-gathered himself, and ran off into the forest.

I couldn't care less.

I started to feel very sleepy and dizzy, and lazily looked at the stump of my arm, dripping blood to the ground.

Then I collapsed in a puddle of my own blood, and saw nothing...


Chapter 2

I awoke in a dimly lit room, and saw two vague shapes above me. I was lying on a stretcher, I think, and I didn't have my mechanical pants on. I felt so helpless and afraid.

My mask was off too. I looked at the walls, stained with blood. I realized where I was. The Vykkers Labs.

I was absolutely terrified. I knew what kind of horrible things they did to their victims, and people who'd stuffed up, and boy have I stuffed up. I took off my superior's right arm on my first day. I am completely and utterly screwed and defenseless.

The shapes above me, which I presumed to be Vykkers, turned to leave the room.

"Do you zhink ze Zlig vill be able to cope vith it?"

"Aaah, yez. Zare is another Zlig. Same operation, only right arm inztead."

He must have meant Hammer.

"Ze new generation of Sligs haz begun."

"Lotz of Moolah vor us."

"Hehheh. Lotz."

"Vhen do ve releaze ze Zligs vor Krib?"

"Krib can get zcrewed. Zhey're going back to ze millz."

And they were gone.

The stump of my arm was throbbing. I went to touch it, and found something else. It was an artificial arm. It was cold and made of Dymernd, a valuable rock on Oddworld, and one of the hardest. I could move it somehow, and it whirred and beeped. I was annoyed. Half of my body was already mechanical. On my wrist I found two 9 inch blades, that I could retract, and two on my knuckles, that I could also retract. One on my elbow, just below where my dymernd arm started.

I clenched and unclenched my fist, getting the hang of controlling it. I tried to pull it off, but there were wires attaching it to the stump. Nerve wires. The Vykkers had made me a monster. The blades gave off a bit of light, so I used them to help me get a better look at the room.

Severed body parts scattered the floor, from all kinds of species, some I didn't recognize. On the floor were my pants and mask. I rolled myself off the stretcher, expecting to hit the hard cold ground, but my blades impaled into the ground, and I lowered myself onto the ground. A few of the limbs had set alight. I realized the blades had an electric current running through them. I put my mask back on, and looked at my reflection to see if there was anything else wrong with me. I had GREEN EYES!

Maybe something was wrong with the mask. I took it off and looked at my reflection again. They were still green.

The Vykkers must have done something. I looked a lot less intimidating, if you didn't see my arm.

I was about to put my pants back on, and I noticed something. They were dymernd as well, and had a massive chaingun, a knife, and two pistols attached. For a moment I thought the Vykkers had screwed my eyes completely, but I touched it, and it was all real. I put the pants on. They were a lot lighter. Suddenly I heard a big explosion, and the whole room shook. A sign hanging form the roof, that said 'Vykker Pharmaceuticals' fell and broke the stretcher in half. I ran to the door, but it was locked, so I took the chaingun and opened fire on it. Bullet-proof. I guess they found it a necessary precaution to protect themselves from their victims. I looked around for another exit. None.

I blasted the wall and made a big gaping hole. Lots of smoke came in. I couldn't see, then I heard a beep and some kind of visor swept over my green eyes, and I could see perfectly, though the smoke was still in the room. Another addition to my upgrade. I must be the first of the new generation of Slig soldiers. I could see the blue sky, and the fire at the starboard end of the ship. The Vykkers Lab ship was plummeting to the ground. Vykkers were escaping in small pods, and Mugs were using parachutes. All the Fuzzles and other creatures were still on board. I didn't dare jump. I saw another ship, colored black and purple. So it was true. The Glukkons had an aircraft and it was huge. A cannon protruded from its hull and it fired. The cannon ball or whatever it was hit my side of the ship and I was thrown off my feet. Why would the Glukkons shoot at the Vykkers?

The ship started tilting, my side closer to the ground. I slid across the floor, and I was hung on the edge for dear life. I prayed to Odd, something I don't often do, that I would live. And an idea sprung to my mind, and I shot the blades out and dug them into the side of the ship. And I remembered the fatal words, 'electric current' and I was blown off the side of the ship...


Chapter 3

It seemed to take forever for me to hit the ground. I expected to die on impact, and was waiting. So much for Odd. If I did the whole blade-in-the-ground thing again I would easily be electrocuted, so it was either die by electrocution or get killed when I hit the ground. The whole Vykkers Labs ship was on fire, thanks to my electric blades, as the Vykkers hadn't ever thought of giving their ships shields or any form of protection from electricity. I saw Mugs, Fuzzles and other creatures, some I'd never seen before, jumping off the edge of the hole I made, hoping to land safely in the forest below. Whoever had piloted the ship had abandoned it as it continued to head for the ground, as did I. Then I saw Hammer jump. I tried to see his new arm and pants. I couldn't clearly because my head kept bouncing around as I fell, but they were different to his old ones, that's for sure. But he still had red eyes.

I was comforted by the fact that he'd die the same death as me, until helicopter blades, like flying Sligs, came out of his pants. I heard a mechanical voice.

"Change to Air Mode?" it asked. It was coming from my pants.

"Yes, yes! Quickly!" I said frantically.

I was only a couple of meters above the highest trees.

I heard a beep and helicopter blades came from my pants and a lever from my knee. I'd used Heli-pants before, but I failed a test that would've have got me my Heli-pants license. My legs folded up into a compartment underneath me. Then the Vykker ship started skidding across the forest's roof, destroying trees, and leaving a path of fire in its wake. Hammer started heading towards me, and a tube came out of his pants, and started lobbing grenades at me.

I dodged them the best I could, and he laughed.

Suddenly, a thin beam of red light came from the Glukkon ship and took his blades off, just missing him. He swore and fell into the forest roof, his weight breaking it, and he fell to the ground screaming all the way.

I was still hovering above the trees and couldn't help laughing. It was just a shame the drop wasn't high enough to kill him. Then a thought hit me. Why didn't the Glukkons get me? Why did they even shoot Hammer in the first place.

I guess Odd was looking out for me after all. I flew to a clear patch of ground on a beach, figuring out how I would land.

"Disable Air mode." I said.

"Affirmative." The Helicopter blades went back where they came from, and was replaced by my legs.

The Glukkon ship was hovering not far from where I landed, and I thought I'd try something.

"Zoom in." I said, and I could see the ship one hundred times closer. It was called the Magogian Wings. I could see inside the cockpit. There was a Glukkon, who I recognized as Manager Krib, the Glukkon the Vykkers had mentioned. He ran Slicer Mills and heaps of other factories, and was basically the top Glukkon. There was also around twenty Sligs, manning the controls, and three Vykkers, They were arguing with Krib, most likely they were pissed off that their labs were shot at. Krib nodded to a Slig with a 'G' tattooed on his arm, and the Slig shot the three Vykkers dead. Weird.

"Return to normal vision."

"Affirmative," and I could see normally again. I turned and headed into the forest, hoping that I would somehow find my way back to the mills...


Chapter 4

I trudged through the forest for a while, passing dead Mugs and Fuzzles, and other creatures. Pieces of debris from the Vykker ship lay all over the place. The forest didn't offer much cover, as all the roof was burnt out, from where the ship had skidded. There were still burning branches on the ground. Suddenly I heard a high pitched squeak. A Fuzzle squeak. The tiny Fuzzle was running as fast as its tiny legs could take it, as the Mug chased it. I took my chaingun and blasted the Mug's head off. The headless body moved around for a moment on its mechanical legs, before falling to the ground, spraying blood.

The tiny Fuzzle changed direction, and headed back to me.
It squeaked in appreciation.

"You know where Slicer Mills are?"

It jumped up and down excitedly, which I think meant yes.

"Show the way, then."

It started bouncing through the forest, in generally the direction I was heading. When it came to a log, I had to help it over. I couldn't believe I helped a worthless Fuzzle, but I like Fuzzles more than I like Mug's.
But, the Fuzzle was helping me get back to the Mills, so I could hopefully resume a normal life, so we were even. But the curious part of my brain told me to try and find out what happened between the Glukkons and the Vykkers, and to find out why my eyes were green instead of red.

Nevertheless, I continued following the Fuzzle, waiting for the squeak when it got to a log or some other object it couldn't manage to navigate without going around it.

Then I heard a branch snap, and the sharpening of a blade on a rock, and the howl which sounded much like a Scrab.

But why would there be Scrabs in this forest? It's not their normal habitat. The Fuzzle was visibly frightened, and ran between my legs, and only moved when I did.

How pathetic. Yet somewhere, deep in my heart, I was overwhelmed with pity for it, not only because it had been subject to the Vykkers experimenting, but because it was so small and weak, and afraid of nearly everything that moved or made a sound. I'm getting way too soft. But I thought to myself, would it be such a bad thing, if I was a little friendlier to lesser species? Of course I would have to be twice as nasty to Big Brother Sligs, to make up for it. But to survive in Oddworld, you have to be nasty to everybody. Unless you have friends. Take that Abe guy, for example. He's infiltrated and destroyed Rupture Farms and SoulStorm Brewery, and Odd knows what else, and survived, and yet he's saving his fellow species from death, and becoming a hero to his people. I can't imagine a Slig doing that if Sligs were taken into slavery, which made me think of why we took orders from the Glukkons at all. I guess its because of the agreement between Queen Skillya and the Magog Cartel, but I had no reason to go back. As far as they knew, I was killed when the Vykkers ship crashed. They didn't even know that I, Slig No. 5742381, existed, except a couple of Sligs back at the Mills, and Hammer.

The howling continued. The Fuzzle looked like it was going to wet itself.
"Yo, Fuzzle. Thanks for your help. You can go back to... uh... the forest. If you need help again, just squeak as loud as you can, kay?"

It nodded.

"See ya." I couldn't believe what I'd just done. Made a friend. I now had absolutely no intention of going back to the Mills, to virtual slavery. I was a free Slig. And I really was going soft. Or maybe I was just doing what Abe does, not being a Glukkon. And it finally hit me why my eyes were green. It was because I was good, not evil.

I decided to give myself, a free Slig, a name. I looked at the blades protruding from my elbow, wrist, and knuckles.

I am Shred.

"I AM SHRED!" I yelled out to nobody, "A FREE SLIG!"

"And, oh yeah, THE GLUKKONS SUCK!" I laughed at myself, amazed at the day I was having. I woke up a virtual slave, and I'll sleep tonight, a free Slig named Shred. And I turned around, to head back to the beach.

So, that's how I got my name. Pretty complicated, huh?
Well, I may as well continue the story of how I got to be where I am now.


Chapter 5

My plan was to head back to the beach, and see if I had some kind of water mode or something, and I was on my way there now. The howling Scrab continued its noise as I trudged back over the decapitated Mug I'd killed earlier. Its body looked alive, with thousands of Fekts feasting on it. Fekts are small creatures that fed on dead flesh. Scavengers. They were nearly always hidden unless there was fresh meat around. They are about 2 inches long, and usually bright red, as they are translucent and usually you can see their last meal inside them. I hated Fekts, so I placed a Grenade on the body and set the timer to five minutes. If I ever returned here I would be surrounded by red, dead trees. I ran the rest of the way back to the beach, and heard a snap and a scream, a Mud scream. I thought the Scrab had found lunch. The Mud stopped screaming. He was dead for sure. Then I heard the Mud start moaning, and I heard nothing of the Scrab at all.

I turned back and headed towards the sound. I leapt over the Mug's Fekt covered body, even more Fekts now than before. I knew I'd have to pass back through here when I found out what the noise was, and I wasn't going to like it.

The moaning stopped, and was replaced by a Scrab howl, and then some grunting. Surely the Mud would be dead now if he was attacked by a Scrab? It was a lot further away than I first thought, it lead me back into green forest where the Vykker's ship hadn't been. I came into a clearing, and leaning against a tree was a Mud, its leg in a bear-trap, set by the Vykker's. The Mud must have known this, because he was trying as hard as he could to escape without ripping his leg off. He saw me and started begging for his life, for me not to kill him.

I raised my Chaingun and pointed it towards him.

"No, please, no please don't, please don't kill me!"

"Stay still!" I barked.

The Mud calmed down and stayed still.

I took careful aim and shot off the bear trap.

"Oh thank you! Hey! You're..."

I'd recognized this too. It was the Mud from the Mills.

"Yeah, it's me."

"Please don't take me back to the Mills."

"I won't unless you piss me off."

"But you'll go back and tell them I'm here, won't you?"

"I'm not going back to the Mills. I'm a free Slig."

I opened a compartment in my pants and took out a small metal box out. I opened it and took out some bandages and chucked them to the Mud.

"Fix your leg. I'm not waiting up for a cripple."

"What do you mean? By the way, I'm Joe."

The Mud stuck out his three fingered hand as he wrapped the bandages around his leg.

"I mean," I said as I put the silver box back in my pants, "that you're coming with me. And I'm Shred."

I stuck out my metal hand and shook his, wanting to scare him a little.

"Your arm... and your pants! Why am I going with you? Thanks for saving me and helping me escape and all, but what do you want with me? Hey! How come your eyes are green?" I heard an explosion in the distance and smiled to myself.

"Because I'm not evil anymore. I'm good now. And I want a companion."

"No, seriously, I mean."

"I AM being serious! When my arm got sliced I woke up in Vykkers Labs, and my eyes were green, because I helped you out and turned good I guess."

"How do you know the Vykkers didn't do it to your mask?"

I took off my mask, and Joe gasped. He'd obviously never seen a Slig without his mask before.

"That's why."

"They might have injected something in there, you know, to make em' green." I was losing my patience.

"Look, if you can't accept a Slig with green eyes I can't accept a Mud as a companion."

"I'm sorry. Just curious. Are we going anywhere in particular?" I noticed a note of hopefulness in his voice.

"No." I said dryly, "Why?"

"Well you see, I got a friend called Meg, and she's been captured and she's being held in the Magog Cartel Main headquarters."

"She? Is she a queen? No wonder they have her captured. But why would they want two queens?"

"Well, they want her more for a different reason..."

"And what reason is that? And how on earth is a Slig and a Mud going to infiltrate Magog Cartel Main headquarters?

It's suicide! No queen is worth that much!"

"I'll show you!"

Suddenly his skin started to turn red and yellow. His chest burst out and muscles bulged from it. His legs became thick and muscled, and he rose a couple of feet into the air, a red aura surrounding him. His feet turned down and his toes melded into a long blade, the same happening to his arms.

His eyes shrunk into nothing and his ponytail shriveled up.

His chin burst out three feet in front of him, and his forehead moved forward above it. Finally his transformation finished and he fell back to the ground. He was just like a Scrab, with a Scrab's head, but he stood on two legs, still wearing his loincloth, which had become bigger, and had two arms where they were meant to be, except they ended in a long blade, and it seemed he deserved to be called Shred more than I did. His neck and torso were thick and muscled.

Unbelievable.

"That is how we're going to save Meg. I'm a Mudoscrab. We should set off now, before it gets dark. I know how to get there, I'll explain everything you need to know."

"I think you'd better," I said, still amazed as he reverted back to his much less intimidating self.

I was utterly speechless, and we moved deeper into the forest...


Chapter 6

"So," I said as we moved into deeper forest, away from the afternoon sun, sinking into the horizon, "That was the Scrab sound I heard earlier.."

"Yeah, I guess so. I was seeing if the Mudoscrab legs were thin enough to get out of the trap."

"How did you ever get to be a Mudo-whatever?"

"It's a long story, but it's a long way to the Magog Cartel main HQ, so I'll tell you. You see, I'm the last living descendant of the Mundachee tribe." I stopped walking.

"What!? They were all gone, long ago."

"Yeah, well a lot of things were different a long time ago.

The Vykkers weren't evil." I laughed.

"Yeah right. And Skillya's a friendly old lady."

"No, really. When the Mundachee Queen, Bek, was getting old, she laid one last egg and asked the Vykkers to cryogenically freeze it, so it would hatch in exactly one hundred years so the Mundachee tribe could be born again, and merge with the Mudomo tribe, and create a new tribe, because she knew they were going to die out soon.

I hatched from that egg, and I have to find Meg. She's from the Mudomo tribe, they did the same thing as us."

"You mean you're a fertile male?"

"Yeah, and I have to... you know... continue the tribe."

"I see. Aren't Queens meant to be really big?"

"Not Meg. She's special. She looks mostly like a normal Mudokon."

"And she can do this... Mudoscrab or whatever thing too?"

He shook his head.

"Mudoparamite. Her tribe worshipped Paramites.

"So you've been able to do the whole Mudo thing since you were born?" I sat on a log, and looked up at the moon, slowly becoming brighter as the sky became darker.

"Not really." said Joe, sitting next to me, "It took a lot of help. It wasn't a natural thing. I'll tell you more in the morning. We're gonna need an early start. Hungry?"

"A bit."

"Okay, you go cut off some branches with that big nasty things on you hand, and I'll get us some food. Kay?"

"Sure." I wandered over to a tree and just by thinking about it, the blades came out and I cut off some branches.

About half an hour later it was night, and I had a nice pile of branches. I separated the leaves from the branches and made beds with them, then chucked the sticks in a pile.

I took a cigar lighter from my pants, for when Glukkon's wanted a smoke, (practically all the time) and lit the sticks, making a fire. Joe returned not long after with a great big frond filled with fruits and nuts.

"Oh, you started a fire! Let's roast these and we can take them with us," he said, gesturing to the nuts.

We ate the fruit. It was warm and sweet in your mouth.

I looked up at the moon.

"Why is your hand print up there?" he looked up.

"I have no idea. Tim thinks it's because Odd takes the form of a Mudokon and he touched the moon with his hand."

"Who's Tim?"

"I'll tell you tomorrow. Let's just get some sleep."

I took off my pants and mask and laid them close to my bed of leaves, and curled up.

"Goodnight Shred."

"Goodnight Joe."

And we slept.


Chapter 7

The next morning, I woke up earlier than normal. Probably because I had something to wake up for now. You could still see the stars, and the moon, though faint. The horizon was pink and yellow as the sun rose.

"Joe?" I looked around. He wasn't in his bed. Must have gone to get some food, I thought. And that he'd done.

The nuts he'd found earlier, were cooked, and the fire still alive. I hacked off some more branches and chucked them in. I took one of the nuts we'd roasted, and ate it. It was sweet and crunchy, and had a honey flavor. Yummy.

Soon Joe came back, with more fruit and nuts, carried in a large leaf, the same one he'd used earlier, which I hadn't noticed was missing. He tried one of the nuts we'd roasted.

"Mmm. Tasty. We'll roast these now, before we leave."

He put the nuts he'd just found on the fire, and threw me one of the fruit.

"Sleep well?"

"Yeah, best I've slept in ages. Much better than one of those stupid cabins with the other Sligs, snoring all night." We laughed, and finished our breakfast.

He took a sack from his loincloth, folded up so it would fit, and put the remaining fruit and the nuts in.

"Gotta leave early," he explained.

"So, so were telling me-" I started, and Joe started wrecking the campsite. He kicked the leaves around, and threw the stick away, and grabbed a great big branch, and used the leaves to sweep up the dirt we'd camped on, removing our footprints. When he'd finished there was no evidence we'd ever been there. He saw the confused look on my face.

"Can't get tracked, or caught. We'll be screwed if we are.

No more merged tribe. No more free Slig."

His last words stung. What would I do if I got captured?

I put it at the back of my head, and we started walking through the forest again.

"Now, what was I saying? Oh yes, how'd you turn into one of those... Mudoscrabs?" And who's Tim?"

"Well, 100 years after Bek laid me, I hatched in the Mundachee vaults, in a small tomb.

I managed to find my way out, and I lived there for about ten years, the Scrabs protecting me from harm. I didn't have a trouble in the world. Then, an old Mudokon, about 100 years old, came to the Vaults so he could die peacefully there. He lived so long because of a special herb the Vykkers gave him, as he was to be the one to help me when I hatched. But the Vykkers turned nasty, and no longer gave him the herb, so he wanted to help as much as he could before he died. I first found him in the tomb I hatched in, my home, and he told me about being laid 100 years ago and preserved and everything about merging the tribes, and we had to travel through Necrum and get to Meg, who also had an old Mudomo Mudokon looking after her.

He said I also had to find the Mudoscrab pendant, which gives me my power. We went through Necrum, and into the Mudomo vaults, and found Meg and Liz, the old Mudokon, also on the Vykker's herbs, looking after her.

We went back to Necrum to find the Mudoscrab and Mudoparamite pendants, and eventually we did, hanging over the entrances to the vaults. We put them on and Tim and Liz taught us how to use, harness and control our power.

Eventually they died, and we were both very sad.

We left Necrum, and somehow got around the Mines, and into a forest. Soon after, she was kidnapped, because a Slig wandering through Necrum, looking for a good bone supply heard everything we said about the pendants and merging the tribe's, to become an extremely powerful race of Mudokons, and fight the Glukkons, and protect fellow Mudokon's, and our sacred Paramites and Scrabs from being wiped out.

I heard one of the Sligs in the capture team say she was heading for the Main HQ, so her power could be analyzed, and then brainwash her with a machine the Vykkers invented.

The Brain Boomer, so they could use her as an extremely efficient and powerful soldier, even more so than Big Brother Sligs, I imagine."

"Wow. Do you hear that?"

"Hear what? Oh, that. Yeah, I hear it. Let's check it out."

"Okay."

We headed for the sound...


Chapter 8

As we crept closer to the sound, I identified the high pitch whimper to that of a Sloggies.

"I think it's a Sloggy."

"Well keep it the hell away from me, whatever it is."

We emerged into a clearing, and saw a large chunk of the Vykker Ship, and a tiny diskette, probably unusable, but I put it in the 'Personal Stuff' compartment of my pants.

Never know when it will come in useful. The whimpering became loud yelps when it heard us coming.

"It's okay," I said gently, "We'll help you get out of there." Joe grimaced and stepped back.

"Speak for yourself... I'm putting lots of space between me and it."

I, I must confess, am very fond of Sloggies, and I intended on keeping this one. I retracted my blades, not wanting to let them touch the metal, as it would electrocute the Sloggy. I noticed that they didn't have any kind of reaction when they touched branches. Oh well, I doubt any of my enemies will turn out to be trees.

I lifted the chunk of metal off the Sloggy, Joe still keeping his distance. It had its ankle was tangled up in some mesh wire. I took my knife and cut it off carefully. It left bright red cuts on the Sloggy's skin where the wire had been. I took out my little silver box and rubbed some cream into the wound. It whimpered softly.

"See? It's all better now. He's not gonna hurt you Joe, stop being a wuss and give him a pat."

Joe reluctantly stepped closer and patted the Sloggy on the head. It yelped happily.

"I'll call you... Mesh. Yeah. I'll call you Mesh. What do you think, Mesh?"

The Sloggy, now called Mesh, jumped up and down happily.

"You can come with us. We could do with some company, eh Joe?"

"Are you reeeeeaaaaaly sure he's not gonna eat us when lunchtime comes? What's he going to eat? I'm not volunteering any fingers. Or arms. Or legs. Or faces."

"Relax! He'll find something, and it won't be you, I promise. Let's go. I just noticed something. Where's that pendant you were talking about, the one that turns you into the Mudoscrab?" Joe grinned, and a pendant materialized on his chest. It had a gold chain, and a ruby on the end, with some kind of symbol I'd seen before. Oh I remember, Abe had it tattooed on his hand. It was on a wanted poster, in the cafeteria, back at the Mills.

"I keep it invisible, so nobody sees it and takes it."

"Why didn't you go Mudoscrab at the Mills and kick some Big Brother Slig ass?"

"That Hammer guy flogged it when I was captured.."

"When were you captured? You stopped the story when Meg got kidnapped, remember?"

"Oh, yeah. Well I followed the capture team for a while, and they noticed me and said another capture team was coming out to get me, so I ran as fast as I could in Mudoscrab, in case they came I could defend myself. But after a while, I was out of their sight, and out of energy.

I had to turn back to myself and stay like that for a least a week, to rejuvenate the energy to turn back to a Mudoscrab. I thought I'd get to the HQ within a week, as I had a map of Oddworld Tim gave me. I headed in the general direction for a while, and then Hammer was on patrol, and he captured me, and took my pendant and attached it to his railgun, and took me to the Mills. Got a promotion, I believe."

"He didn't know you were special then? Otherwise he would've taken you to the HQ." Joe laughed.

"Oh no, he had no idea. He thought the pendant was for decoration. He only took it so he could sell it for a few Moolah, although if he'd shown it to the Magog Cartel, he would've got millions. He's screwed if they ever find out about it, that he had the Mudokon that would start the up-rise against the Glukkons at the Mills. They'd be sooooo pissed! They want me at the HQ, under surveillance, and they'd probably send me off to the Vykkers for testing."

"I very much doubt that. The Glukkons and Vykkers are really really pissed off at each other. I saw a Slig, under Glukkon order, shoot three of them dead. And they shot down their labs with a ship they've built, called the Magogia Wings."

"Really? So that's what was happening up there."

"How did you get your pendant back?"

"Well I'd ran into the forest, and I remembered it.

Hammer was unconscious and I took it off his gun. Then I walked into the bear trap, and met you. That's pretty much my life story."

"Fascinating. I never thought a Mud's life could be so complex." Joe smiled warmly.

"Well now you do. So, are we going or what? I guess Mesh can come. Mesh barked its Sloggy bark and nipped Joe's ankle.

"Yow! Keep him away, okay?" I grinned, inside my mask.

"That's just his way of showing he loves you, that's all."

"Yeah, shame I don't feel the same way about him. He may be cute and innocent now, but he's going to grow up to be a big mean Slog with big sharp teeth and he's going to eat us. You're nuts."

"Slogs are only mean to other's if they're masters mean to them, and I'm not going to be mean to Mesh, so when he grows up he'll be a big friendly Slog with big sharp teeth."

Joe sighed and started walking.

"Whatever, Just keep him with you. And like I said earlier, donating fingers is your job, not mine."

I laughed and rubbed the smooth leathery skin on Mesh's head happily, and followed Joe deeper into the forest...


Chapter 9

Although according to the tiny clock I discovered a panel on my metal arm, we'd only been walking for about 4 hours since our last stop, it felt like days. Mesh ran circles around me as I walked, only occasionally stopping to go and pee on a tree. I knew it was impossible for my legs to get tired, but I wondered how Joe could walk for so long on his skinny little legs.

"Don't you ever get tired?"

"Yes, doesn't everyone?"

"No, tired from walking. We've been going for 4 hours straight!"

"I'm fine, did you want to have a break?"

"No, I've got pants, remember. But I think Mesh might. He looks hungry." Joe backed away.

"I am not on the menu, you'd better tell him that."

Mesh started sniffing the air, and whimpered.

"What's wrong? Do you smell something?" The Sloggy nodded its large head. Suddenly, a pine tree fell in the forest ahead, I heard the sound of chainsaws, and laughing, and shuddered as I made out two red eyes attached to a large body approaching us.

"Hammer.." I hissed in hatred. Joe started transforming, and Mesh scrambled up my pants and jumped in the pant-o-kennel, a tiny slog kennel for Sloggies I'd discovered earlier in the back of my pants.

Hammer finally strode out into the open, cocky, like a youngster who's won every scrap he's been in, like I used to be, even before the mills. I spun around, expecting to see Joe, ready to help attack, but he was gone. At that second I felt more hatred for the Mudokon race than I did for Hammer. The bastard looked confused momentarily, as if he wondered where Joe had gone as well.

"Where did that creature go!?" he bellowed at me.

I noticed sparks flying from a hole in his pants where he'd been shot by the Magogian Wings earlier. I looked up, at a massive tree, and saw Joe, up in the tree, in his Mudoscrab form, ready to jump. His blades had extended. I thought Mesh would soon have something to eat, and lost all my fear and all the arrogance I used to have returned to me.

"He was just a figment of your imagination. I guess you're getting old, eh?"
"WHAT?! HOW DARE YOU, YOU INSOLENT LITTLE RETARD!"

He then pulled out his massive trademark, his railgun, now upgraded by the Vykkers it appeared, and started up a chainsaw that extended from his metal arm.

He took a massive stepped forward, and the whole planet seemed to shake. I wondered how much longer Joe was going to be, but I stopped wondering as I saw a black shining blade erupt out of Hammer's chest. Hammer screamed in agony as the blade slowly tore downwards. Then, the blade retracted to its normal size and Joe leapt over Hammer to me. Blood sprayed from the enormous gash in Hammer's chest as he collapsed to the ground.

Joe returned to normal.

"Come on, let's go."

I walked around the twitching, bleeding Hammer, and glanced at Joe. Then I looked at the wound.

Suddenly I heard the electronic voice coming from my mask.

"Analyzing." Cross sections, wire frames and other models of Hammer's body started appearing on the screen, with heaps of other information. One showed the cut starting below Hammer's heart, narrowly missing the spinal cord, traveling down.

"Wound - Not fatal. Medical attention required within 6 hours or victim will perish."

Joe heard the last message and shrugged.

"I didn't intend on killing him. Come on, let's go."

And we left the panting, twitching, bleeding Hammer, hopefully for the Fekts to find and destroy...


Chapter 10

I couldn't help but feeling a little bit sorry for Hammer, lying alone in the forest, dying. He was a fellow Slig, after all. But if we, or at least Joe, hadn't done what we did, we'd probably both be dead by now. I noticed Mesh was out of his kennel, and had a Fuzzle, or at least, a piece of it, in his mouth. I hadn't even noticed. At least it wasn't the Fuzzle I helped earlier. Joe looked pale.

"He has to eat, it's not his fault. Just look away."

"It's still... like... gross though. Can't he just swallow it whole instead of chewing into little pieces?"

I heard a scream in the distance that sounded like Hammer.

"Fekts got him." said Joe. A shiver ran down my spine.

Soon the forest ended, merging into an enormous valley.

"Keep your guard up Joe. It's too open here."

I extended my, as I now called them 'shredders' and got out my chaingun. Joe transformed.

"Mesh, get in," I said, beckoning to the Sloggy I've grown so fond of. He let out a massive burp.

"Great," said Joe, "really stealthy, just belch in the middle of a valley where anyone can get us."

Mesh yelped and jumped in his kennel.

We walked in silence up the middle of the valley, along a stream. We took a short stop for a drink. Then the silence was shattered by an ear-piercing horn.

"GET THE MUD! DON'T HURT IT, JUST GET IT!" roared an enormous Glukkon-sounding voice that echoed through the whole valley, and armies of Sligs poured out from over the ledge to our left. They surrounded us, an unlikely threesome, a Mudokon, a Sloggy, though still in his kennel, presumably hiding: Sloggies hate loud noise, it hurts their ears, and up until now; a free Slig. Thousands of guns were pointed at us, and holding them, thousand of trigger-happy Sligs, including about 200 Big Brother ones.

They closed in on us slowly, and I knew we were doomed. One twitch, one movement, and I was dead. But maybe they didn't want me. I noticed they'd came in from right as well, mainly the Big Brother ones, the same way we entered the valley, which meant they were either following us or Hammer, or perhaps they were simply on patrol, or investigating the Vykker ship crash, but I found it hard to believe that they would send that many Sligs just to capture a Mud. The next moment flashed by like a FeeCo train.

Joe raised his arms and bolts of energy hit the ground and holes opened all around the Sligs, locking them in the ground, others simply disintegrating as a beam hit them.

Joe was wreaking havoc everywhere. Sligs were exploding, combusting, melting, dying. My species, my own brother's were dying all around me. Joe kept killing, somehow, and the last thing I saw was the butt of a Blitz Packer slamming into my face...


Chapter 11

I have not the slightest idea how long exactly I was out for. Or how out of it I was, but I have a rough idea, because I have been stripped of my pants and arm. Again.

Nor do I have the slightest idea where I was, other than in a cell, in a prison somewhere. I still had my mask, luckily. I had only a tiny, barred window on the door of the cell to see through. Great use when I have no pants, let alone when I have one arm, but I still crawled across the floor, with my arm, over to the window, and attempted vainly to pull myself up to it. No luck. I crawled back to what I guess was my bed. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was a thin, torn piece of cloth with lots of holes in it, resting on a piece of poorly cut wood jutting out of the wall. I saw a branding on it that said 'Slicer Mills'. I waddled, if that's the right word, over to it and sniffed it. Yep, Konnifa, Slicer Mills wood.

I heard a rattling of some keys, some voices and whirring. The door opened and three Sligs stood, with their guns, and one holding some keys, rattling them at me.

"Hey. What you in for?" said the key-rattling one.

"I'd sincerely like to know. Don't suppose you've come to get me out of here?"

"Sorry, I haven't. I hope you can take pain."

"Why?"

"You're going to get a rackin', you know torture... They want to interrogate you about some Mud who can make like a Scrab or something. You know anythin'?"

"Torture?! I've never heard of the guy!"

"Yeah, I wish there was sumthin' I could do... sorry man. Good luck. My name's Quill."

"Shred. Look, you know where my pants are."

"...Yeah, but I can't tell you. Sorry." I sighed.

"Yeah, I thought that might be the case, but I was wondering if you could press the blue button that says 'release'. I've got a Sloggy in there, it's a kennel.

And one more thing: Where the hell am I?"

"I'll fix your Sloggy, although it could be a bomb for all I know, but I don't think you'd do that."

"I would, and I wish I could, but I can't."

He started heading off to the next cell and he said,

"By the way, you're at the biggest cigar manufacturer on Oddworld. Interrogation starts tomorrow morning. It's eight at night at the moment. I'm going to do you another favor."

"And what's that?"

"I'll try and get you a cell you can see out of, maybe with a cell mate, maybe I can get you some unarmed pants. If you survive the torture, that is."

"Thanks."

"And the last bit of help I can give you without getting killed is... your number is your freedom. Welcome to hell. Have fun."

Your number is your freedom? Welcome to hell. Have fun?

It made me think, and I wrote those words on the concrete wall that trapped me, with a piece of rock I found in the corner of my cell.

I crawled to my bed, and slept a terrible sleep filled with nightmares about torture, death, and blood...


Chapter 12

I'm pretty sure I woke up early, because the only sound I could hear was snoring. It gave me a perfect chance to escape. I plonked my self in front of the few words I'd written on the wall the night before, clues to escape that Quill gave me. Was it a code, a scramble of words, a puzzle? I didn't know. Welcome to hell. Your number is your freedom. Have fun. The words were meaningless in their own way, but precious to me, as I had a feeling that Quill wasn't screwing me around. They had to mean something. It seemed I had a few hours until the guards woke up, and took me off to the torture. I knew I couldn't tell them anything, I knew it was going to be very painful, and I knew I would have to take it and shut my mouth, even if it killed me. I wondered what I could tell them though. That Hammer had a pendant that held the power of the Mudoscrab. But, to what use? Hammer was dead. Thank Odd. I spent the next few hours rearranging the words, and the letters, but all I came up with was a whole bunch of words, that weren't even words, that didn't make sense anyway. If I hadn't known the pain I was going to have to endure in the next couple of hours, I would have smashed my head against the cold, hard concrete wall that trapped me in this Odd-forsaken place. Suddenly I heard three gentle taps at the door.
I crawled over.

"Hey Shred... it's me, Quill," he whispered.

"Not coming to save me?"

"No... sorry. Look, your torture starts in a couple of hours. I'm going to have to collect you. Luckily for you."

I was hoping he was about to say, 'Let's bust you outta here,' but he didn't.
"Now, here's how I can do this without getting in trouble and helping you out. I can't free you but I can shorten a hell of a lot of the torture for you. I can't tell you how exactly, all I can do is take you past Sick Bay to 'check up' on someone. Got it? You have to pay very, very careful attention to what's in there."

"Weapons?" I said hopefully. Quill laughed.

"I wish. I want you out of here as well. I hate to see Sligs in captivity."

"You are in captivity. You are a slave. Do you work here of your own free will?"

"Well, no but -"

"Exactly. Would you rather die a free Slig... or an enslaved one?"

"I think you know the answer to that."

"You're right, I do."

I heard whirring from down the hallway.

"I've gotta go now, I've risked too much already. Here. Some food. You get jack all for breakfast in this dump. By the way, I noticed you're trying to figure out your puzzle. It's not a code and it's not a letter scramble. See ya soon."

And he left. He had given me a cold Mudokon Pop. I wouldn't eat it even though I was starving. It wouldn't be right. Right then, my anger for the Glukkons was lit up and if I had my pants and a gun, I would bust out of this place and kill every Glukkon that got in my way. I threw it out through the gaps between the bars in my cell, and got back to working out my puzzle.


Chapter 13

I still didn't have the stupid puzzle figured out when Quill came to collect me for my torture.

"Let's go man. Sorry I'm the one who's gotta do this."

"Not as sorry as I am, believe me."

"Okay," he said in a lower tone, as some other Sligs were watching, "you remember what we're doing?"

"Yeah."

"Good. When we go through Sick Bay, remember your clues."

He grabbed me by the arm and shoved me out, so it would look as if he was as nasty as all the others, and they wouldn't suspect him for anything.

He put me in some pants, unarmed of course, and led me to the sick bay. I was eager to see who was in the other cells in the hallway, but felt it was too dangerous. I just kept walking. The prison section was very dull and gray, and dirty. Not to mention the smell. The sick bay was just as dull as the prison, and we walked very slowly through it. It was just a hall with shelves with different boxes and tubes and medicines and syringes, and a couple of beds. A walk through sick bay. I thought of the clues. Welcome to hell. Other than the place itself, there was nothing as such to do with hell. Your freedom is your number. There were no numbers in the room. Have fun. I looked around at the labels on the jars and boxes. I walked past what I was looking for at first, unconsciously thinking F. U. N. was just a randomly chosen three letters to name a chemical. I was a few steps past it when I realized. Also I noticed the disappointed look on Quill's face when I passed it.

"Stop!" I yelled and ran back to it and took it off the shelf. It read: F. U. N. Fib Uncoverer Neutralizer:

You can lie your head off while you have fun! A product of Vykkers labs.

"Well done," said Quill, "There is a lie detector connected to the torture machine. You can make up any story you want while they interrogate you, and the machine will say it's all true. That way you don't have to not talk and withstand the pain. Take one now, hurry, and put this back in. It's a dummy pill. The Vykkers who used to work here would count their pills every day, so they know nobody has under dosed. They think it's funny when people overdose. But now the Glukkons count, and if they find one pill missing, they kill three prisoners."

I swallowed the pill. It tasted like $hit.

"What do you mean, used to work here."

"Oh, something happened between the Glukkons and the Vykkers. I think it's about the Gimmakons."

"The what's?"

"No time to explain, we're late."

"Well we wouldn't want that, would we?" I said sarcastically.

In the torture room were 3 Glukkons, whom I didn't recognize, and a few Sligs. And Manager Krib. I don't think he recognized me because of my green eyes, and his attention seemed to be elsewhere.

"Good luck, Shred. May Odd help you," and he left.

"Thanks." A slig came up to me and ripped my pants off, and dragged me over to a massive machine and strapped me onto it with some kind of metal rope.

Attached to the machine were many different instruments including knives, tasers, twisted blades, barbed rods, and other things that didn't look too friendly. This Slig seemed to be running the show, and the Glukkons asking the questions, but he didn't seem too sure of himself, like he'd never done it before. I presumed the Vykkers used to do it. Then to my surprise, he brought out my sleeve (Authors note: This is what I'm calling his mechanical arm) and attached it back to the stump of my arm. They'd somehow unplugged the nerve wires the first time, and now they were reattaching it, blades and all, but my arm was strapped down too tight to move them. Then the Slig attached a wire to a small plug in the elbow of my sleeve I hadn't noticed before. Then the Slig took a knife and cut through one of the nerve wires, and sent unimaginable pain through my body. I screamed, but then the pain stopped, as the Slig calmly attached the severed wire to another wire, joined to the machine.

"Are we ready?!" roared a Glukkon.

"Yeah boss, we're ready to go," said a Slig.

"Good. Now listen here you piece of crap!"

I believe he was referring to me.

"We're gonna ask you some questions about a Mud called Joe. And if you don't answer the question correctly, I'll show you what happens, and if you thought that little twinge before was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet! Turn it on!"

"Right boss!"

And the Glukkon was right. I felt like every part of my body was on fire, and with millions of burning knives stabbed into me. My eyes, my chest, everything.

They had plugged my nerve wires into some kind of electrocution device, so instead of the electricity hitting my skin, it directly hit my nerves. I screamed louder than when I lost my arm. And now they were using the replacement against me. I vaguely heard a Glukkon say, "That's enough... for now" and the pain was gone, except for a dull, throbbing burn, an echo.

"Now, listen up. That was on the lowest setting. If you don't talk, or if you lie, we will increase that... a lot. Now why have you got green eyes?"
"I... was..." I could barely speak my mouth was so dry and burnt. Luckily the Glukkon could see this.

"He can't talk. Get him some water. We need this information."

A minute later the slig returned with a little water and poured it down my throat. And just about drowned me.

"Now... answer. You've had plenty of time to think about it."

"I was... kidnapped... by the... Vykkers... and... they made them... that.. .way..."

"Mmmmm. What's the machine say?"

"Uhh. It's true boss."

"Okay. No more torture for today."

"Uh boss, we can't take him back the normal way, because of the accident, and the other way we have to go through the executive office, so can I knock him out?" He sounded hopeful, with an evil glimmer in his eyes.

"I guess you'll have to. Just don't ruin his memory, or I'll put you on the machine as well."

The Slig shuddered.

"Okay boss, just a little whack."

I tried to avoid the blow from the club, but it was impossible, and I was out cold once again...


Chapter 14

When I woke up, I immediately knew I was in a different cell, as the clues on the walls were gone.

I got up slowly. Hey, I got up! They'd given me...padded pants. I turned and saw a familiar face.

It was Hammer. He had an enormous scar on his chest, and many tiny cuts and burns. From the Fekts.

"Hammer!"

I got ready for attack, but he waved his hand dismissively at me.

"I don't want to fight."

I nearly fell out of my pants.

"What?"

"They're going to execute me in three days."

"Huh? Why?"

"I told them everything."

"That means... you bastard. Did you tell them about me?"

"No..."

I nearly fell out of my pants again.

"Why not?"

"I don't know. I told them about the pendant."

"Did you know what it was?"

"... Yeah... I wanted to keep it for myself. I knew it was the Mudoscrab pendant. Ruster told me what it looked like."

"Who's Ruster?"

"He's the one who found out about those two Muds with the powers... Joe and Meg, wasn't it?"

"Yeah... keep going."

"Ruster was a friend of mine, a Slig of course. He used to work at Necrum Mines. He was looking for bones to make his own personal brew when he found them and Meg was captured. He'd told the Magog Cartel all about them. He'd told me about the time when he found out, and described the pendants. I got Joe's pendant."

"So how did you survive, with the Fekts and all?"

"That big Slig army was looking for Joe. They found me and collected me then took me back here while everyone else went for Joe. So anyway, they're going to snuff me in 3 days because I had the pendant and knew about it and didn't take it to the Magog Cartel."

"Did they ask you about me?"

"Uhhh. They said if they saw a Slig with a sleeve with Joe. I said he was chasing him down."

For the first time I felt sorry for Hammer. He'd saved my ass, his confidence was shattered because he'd given in to the torture and talked, and he was going to be killed in three days. And he was my cellmate now.
The mood certainly wasn't going to be happy.


Chapter 15

Over the next few days the interrogation and torture continued, and Quill took me each day, and we passed through the infirmary before the torture to get my FUN pill.

They never actually zapped me again, because I made up any scrabshit I wanted, and they still believed me, because of their trusty machine. They'd asked me things like, have you ever been on the Vykkers ship, to which I replied, "No sir. Never have been sir, never want to sir," and he'd simply grunt and ask another question. I sucked up as much as I could, as sick as it made me, but the more I sucked up the better chance I had of getting out of this hell hole. Hammer was getting more and more depressed. I still hated him, but tried to cheer him up, but what can you do to make someone who's going to be killed, happy?

I wish I knew...

Once again, I sat gloomily in my cell, nothing to do but listen to Hammer's heavy breathing, the occasional whirr of pants in the hallway outside of the cell. I stared forlornly at the shit they'd given me for breakfast. Cold mashed Mudokon Pop. Quill slipped in a Scrab Cake whenever he could, which unfortunately for me, wasn't that often because he constantly had his superior breathing down his neck. I felt a pang of guilt sweep through my body. He was putting his job and life on the line for me, and I hadn't even told him I wasn't innocent. I wondered if he would turn me in if I told him. I wouldn't blame him if he did. He would get a promotion, a big one too.

I lay in the corner of my miserable little cell, scratching with a tiny rock endlessly at the wall. And the only thing that was wearing away was the tiny rock. Tomorrow was to be the last interrogation. This would decide if I was to be killed, kept in prison or freed... but I would never be free... they would set me to work in their factories again... I was rather unenlightened by this thought and carried on with my scraping, and soon went to sleep...

The next morning I woke up to the smell of blood. I was startled and looked around.

Hammer's body lay on the cold concrete floor, a message carved in the wall behind him. I went over to him and checked his nonexistent pulse, for some reason feebly hoping there would be a dull throb in his veins. But there wasn't. There was a knife in his chest, his hand firmly clasped upon it. I sighed, and tried to read the messy scratching on the wall.

It said: I was not murdered the night I die, because I was the one who ended my life. I will not be destroyed by the scum that created me. Before that happens I would destroy myself...

I found myself strangely distraught, as I expected myself to be happy the day that bastard died. A blade of pity cut my throat. A miserable creature was Hammer. And then I smiled as I saw where the knife had punctured. His chest. And I saw that there was no scar on his chest. It wasn't Hammer. Hammer had carved the message and escaped. I don't know how, but he did it. I owed him a favor, I knew, and decided not to tell anyone this was not Hammer, but an unfortunate Slig who had obviously got too close to Hammer.

I pulled the knife out of the Slig's chest and banged it on the door, so some Sligs could take the body away. Then I saw a word on the handle of the knife, carved on intricately.

The word was Ruster.


Chapter 16

Soon, about 8 Slig soldiers came and removed the body, with a couple extra guarding the door to my cell so I couldn't escape. I had a weapon now, Ruster's knife. I still didn't know if Hammer had killed Ruster, or if Ruster and Hammer had killed someone with Ruster's knife. All I knew was that my chances of getting out of this place were a lot higher now. But I knew it would have to involve killing my own brothers, but I had to be ready for that, I knew. Quill came not long after.

"Hey, how you doin'?"

"For someone stuck in jail, not too bad. My cellmate just killed himself, I get crap to eat, other than the Scrab Cakes you give me."
Ruster smiled.

"Oh, and I meant to tell you, I freed your Sloggy. He just runs around the factory, following the big Sligs.

"What if he gets lost?"

"Wouldn't matter if he did, the Sligs give them a few Mudokons for dinner, and there has never been a time when a Sloggy didn't come to dinner."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I have a question for you."

"Fire away."

"What is the name of your boss, you know, your superior."

"Oh, that's Ruster. I think the lazy bum is sleeping in this morning, haven't seen him all day."

"Quill my friend, I don't think you have a superior anymore."

"And why it that?"

"Oh never mind, just a little theory."

"Yeah? Well anyway, I hope you're right. The Glukkons just sent me to tell you that they weren't taking you for interrogation, they got a meeting with Skillya or something."

"Oh... okay. Look after Mesh for me."

"Bye."

"Bye."

And he left. I spent the rest of the day trying to hold my breath so I didn't have to smell the blood left over from the unfortunate Slig's body. Nobody had been sent to clean the place up. I sharpened the blade in the corner of my cell, away from anyone who may see the knife when they look in the cell, checking on me. I was getting rather good with it. I fought some imaginary opponents from time to time, and practiced fighting with it most of that night. The next morning, the smell was mostly gone, and I was tired, but satisfied at what I'd done the previous night. I'm pretty sure I could kill a Slig fairly efficiently if I had to.

I even took the liberty of removing the blade from the handle and carving 'Shred' over where it said Ruster. Then Quill came, and took me for my final interrogation...


Chapter 17

My sacred little ritual of taking the FUN pill was fulfilled once again on the way to the Torture room. I was strapped up by the usual Slig, who was getting better at it and strapping me tighter each time. Today was do or die day.

There were a couple more Glukkons than usual, and I noticed Krib wasn't there. I wondered why.

One of the new Glukkons stepped forward. He wore a purple suit with big shoulders on it. He was of a very high rank, due to all the badges and ribbons pinned to his suit.

"Now listen up, shithead!"

He sounded like his throat had never been wet. I noticed my pants in a far corner of the room.

"Today is the last interrogation. Ready to go, screwup?"

"Ready boss!" said the Slig with unending enthusiasm. I could tell that the Glukkon liked calling people names.

"Now, I am Director Karse. Did you know anything about the Mudoscrab attack in the lower cells? Was this an attempt to free you? Did you know that several prisoners escaped, including the one that had been put in YOUR old cell?"

"No sir, I knew nothing. Why would a Mudoscrab want to save me?"

I wished I'd stayed there after all.

"I don't know, but I'm guessing you do."

He certainly was smarter than your average Glukkon. He was not one to be underestimated, and I took my next steps carefully.

"Is he lying, fuckass?"

"No boss. Not at all."

Both looked severely disappointed.

"Ah, to hell with it. Give him a buzz anyway."

The Sligs little face lit up with joy.

"Sure boss!"

The pain ran through me once more, longer than the first time. This time, I found I wasn't screaming. I don't know why. I wasn't even trying to. I took this as an omen of sorts, and regained some of my confidence.

"Mmmmm. You can take a lot of pain. That was the highest setting. You should have died. Right, dickhead?"

"Sure was boss!"

I couldn't believe what I had endured. I thought Quill must have slipped some kind of anesthetic into my breakfast.

Karse looked me up and down.

"You would make a fine Slig soldier. You are innocent, aren't you?"

"Yes sir."

Karse glanced at the buzz-happy Slig.

"It's the truth boss. All here in black and white."

The Slig showed a piece of paper to the Glukkon.

"I see. Yes, he is telling the truth it seems. Unless there is something wrong with the machine..."

"We tested it yesterday on a Mud. He lied through his teeth and the machine said so!"

"Okay. The session is finished. Slig."

I noticed he no longer insulted me, but seemed to have some kind of genuine respect for me. I guess not many had endured the highest setting on the torture machine AND survived.

"... you will work in the factory. I will give you your pants and sleeve back, and set you in the second highest security level. You need as much power as you can up there. This is normally put under guard by Big Bro Sligs, and I am putting a lot of faith in you, understand. You'll stay in a minimum security cell tonight. You start tomorrow. I will send someone for you. You've had training, I hope?"

"I have sir. Thank you sir, I mean boss."

Sucking up to a Glukkon has it's downsides and upsides. Upside: I didn't die.

Downside: I nearly did, and I'm still not free.

It was Joe who had been trying to save me. All hope it seemed, was lost. I had my knife hidden in my padded pants.

I would need it. And I was taken back to my cell, for the first time, by Mr. Buzz-happy. Every other time it was Quill. The bastard jabbed and kicked me all the way back. I found this strange. I knew what I had to do.

"Hey look!" I cried.

"Huh? What? Where?" he spun around.

"Here!" I whipped out my knife and pressed it against his neck, with him in headlock. I felt bad doing this to another Slig, but I had to do it. I drove the blade into his neck. He tried to scream but couldn't. He twitched madly as I lowered his body to the floor. I removed the keys for the cells from his now cold fingers, and took his gun. I quickly switched my padded pants with his proper ones. They would think it was me. I hoped Quil wouldn't be too sad. I stuffed his body through the bars of my cell. an I had the power now, I was in control. I had the keys, and a weapon. I knew I was a different Slig now, much different to the naive, young Slig I used to be. I had to find Mesh, hopefully Quill, my sleeve and my pants. And I knew where the latter was. And started heading back for the torture room...


Chapter 18

I slowly opened the thick metal door to the torture room, and peeked in. There were three Glukkons, none of which I recognized, simply standing and smoking, and checking out the torture machine. I took a shell out of my gun, and rolled it across the floor, to get their attention elsewhere. They didn't even seem to notice. So I walked in, aimed the gun at them and squeezed the trigger. I felt sick, killing these defenseless creatures. The most they could do was spit on me. I closed my eyes. I stopped shooting about ten seconds later, and they were all dead, bullet ridden. I stepped over their bodies and scanned their suits for any kind of ID I could use at security doors and stuff. There was none. These were probably just some Junior Executives, aspiring to become important like Karse or Krib. I ran over to my pants and sleeve, left carelessly in a corner. I put on my sleeve, glad to find I had two hands now. Holding one of those machine guns with one arm can be very tiring after a while. I ditched the old pants and put on my other ones. I was ready for anything. I got my chaingun and blasted all the computers in the Torture room. I headed back out to the other cells. I checked out those who were inside. A Mudokon, banging his head against a wall... another few Mudokons... a Slig.

"Hey... wanna kick some Glukkons?" I called in though the bars of the cell.

The Slig looked up.

"Love to. But I'm not gonna be kickin' anything without my pants."

"Okay... hang on a sec. I raced back into the torture room and grabbed the spare pants and gun. I unlocked the cell and chucked them to him. For a second I was worried he was going to turn on me and help the Glukkons.

"Hey... uh... gimme your gun... I gotta... ah... check that it's loaded and stuff. I'll do that while you get your pants on."

"Huh? Oh, okay." he gave me the gun and put his pants on.

I fiddled with a compartment in my pants until I found what I was looking for. A tiny clip on bomb. I stuck it on the side of the weapon. If he tried anything, all I had to do was hit a button on the side of my pants, and he'd be kaboom...


Chapter 19

I handed the Slig the gun, hoping he wouldn't notice the tiny bomb. I checked the other cells. There were some more Mudokons. I would've set them free, but it was going to be safer in there than out here, it was for their own good.

I checked the rest of the cells, until I found three Big Bro Sligs. I peered into the cell, checked that they were unarmed and opened the door.

"Uh, hey guys. Betcha wanna kill somethin', right?"

One crawled over to me.

"Are you kiddin' kid? Course we do. But we ain't got nothin' to kill with, do we?"

I searched my memory for any rooms I'd seen that may contain weapons, on trips to the torture room and back, or near the Infirmary. I stumbled across a vague, blurry sign on a door buried deep within my memory... the time I was knocked out my Mr. Buzz-Happy... it had said... Armory... high power weapons... do not enter...

I grinned at the trio.

"Do you want to get out of here? Do you want to be free, takin' orders from nobody? Doing what you want everyday?"

They each slowly nodded.

"Great."

I heard the screech of mechanical pants, gestured to the Slig beside me to be ready.

"Don't fire until I tell you to," I whispered. I didn't think he would do what I said, after all, Sligs weren't the type to take orders from anything that was at the same status level or lower than them, but this Slig, a young one it appeared, seemed to look up to me, and nodded at everything I said.

"What's your name?"

"Me? Sledge."

"I'm Shred."

A Slig came into view. Sledge rose his gun.

"Hey, don't shoot. Shred? It's me, Quill! What the hell do you think you're doin'?

"Escaping. You wanna help or not?"

Quill sighed.

"You DO realize they'll kill me if they find out I helped you guys, right?"
"Then come with us! You know the way. We don't have to be pushed around by the Glukkons all the time. The only thing stopping us is the other Sligs! Can you take us to the Armory?"

"I... I guess so... My friends can help. What do you need from the armory?"

"Umm. High status amour and weaponry for three Big Bro Sligs, and some more guns, grenades... whatever you have."

Four more Sligs came out from behind the three Big Bro Sligs.

"And pants and guns for four Sligs. Can you do that?"

"I guess so. I'll bring 'em down. Stay here. I'll lock the entrances so nobody can get in but me."

"Okay. Thanks."

"And by the way, Shred. There is a reason I'm called Quill."

"And what is that?" I asked, bemused.

Spines started sprouting out of Quills back, in rows of two.

"That's why. Vykker experiment. Be back soon."

He ran off. One of the Big Bro Sligs, the one that spoke to me, spoke up.

"My name is Helix. You're Shred, right? So what's the plan exactly? Blast our way out of here?"

"Uh, pretty much, yeah."

"Cool."


Chapter 20

Quill got back after about ten minutes with his two friends, the same I'd seen him with when I first met him.

They were carrying three sets of Big Bro Slig amour, pants and weaponry, and four sets of Slig pants and weaponry, on a big wheeled table.

Behind Quill I heard a familiar happy yelp. That yelp was of Mesh's.
"Mesh! You're okay!" I was so happy. He had a large scar that ran down his snout.

"How did you get that?"

"Oh, he got into a fight with the dominant male Slog. Won too. He was leading all the slogs in the place. All the other Sligs wondered whose he was."

"Well, aren't we a strong Sloggy? So what else did you get us, Quill?"

"Let's see now... Rocket Launchers... Grenade Launchers... Railguns... Chainguns... Sparkshots..."

"You got Sparkshots? Always wanted to use one of these."

I grabbed one of each and conveniently found sections attached to my pants where I could put them. Sockets and sheaths that I hadn't even noticed.

"Okay Mesh, in the kennel."

"Oh, he won't be needing that," beamed Quill. He took from the table a small piece of amour with several blades and machine guns attached to it. He slipped it over Mesh, which fitted on him perfectly.

"Sloggy amour. An invention of mine."

"Nice. How Joe would like to see him now."

"Joe? Who is Joe?"

"Uh... um... an old friend..."

I felt bad about continually lying to Quill, but it wasn't worth the risk.

The three Big Brother Sligs and their smaller counterparts were armed and looked rather nasty. Which was a good thing.

"So, you gonna join us Quill? Your friends too."

"Well, it's better than being stuck here. We ready? Let's go."

All the weaponry was taken from the table, and I felt like I was invincible. I found I could attach most of my weapons to become an extension of my arm, though sockets in my sleeve, and I could fire it by thinking about it.

I had my chaingun attached to my arm, my railgun in the other, my spare chaingun I gave to Sledge, because he'd missed out on getting one. I strapped the rocket launcher and grenade launchers next to my shoulders, and checked I had sufficent ammo for all of them.

"Well everyone, I think it is safe to say that this is the start of a Slig Revolution. We may have to kill our brothers today, and if you do make sure it is quick and painless. Ready to go?"

Everybody nodded.

"Then let's go. And by the way, what are your names, I need something to call you by, especially if I need to get your attention in the middle of a gunfight."

One of the sligs stepped forward. "Brack."

Another followed. "Lorth."

Then another. "Skien."

Then the last. "Don't have a name."

"Oh..okay then. What about you two?"

One of them simply gestured to Helix.

"Ah, he can't talk, he had his throat slit in a fight, so we call him Mute, and the other guy is Spade."

"Right. Then let's start."

"Wait Shred, wait for me!" echoed a voice from around the corner.
"Hold your fire," I said as they raised their guns.

It was Joe.

"It's a mud. Kill him, boss?"

"No. That's Joe. He is with us."

"But he is a Mudokon!"

"And a friggin powerful one at that, Helix."

"Joe, we're bustin out of here. You mind transformin and gimme a hand?"
"Sure. What the hell is that!?" he said, pointing at the spiky Mesh.
"Your worst nightmare," I grinned, "Actually it's just Mesh. With a little amour."

I unconsciously noticed that Helix had called me boss and realized that to get a Slig on your side, you simply had to display a little leadership. A reason why the Glukkons had us working for them. I realized also that I could be sending these Sligs to their deaths. And for some reason I found myself ordering them to start the assault anyway.

And I started to wonder if my eyes had changed to the color of blood...


Chapter 21

"So, uh, lets go then. Quill, lead the way."

Quill headed to the front of the pack with me trailing a little behind, then Spade, Mute and Helix, with Skien, Lorth, Brack, Sledge and the nameless guy flanking. Joe was at the very back, wary of any Sligs turning around and blasting him, but I got the feeling they were being very cautious of Joe now that he was a Mudoscrab, which he'd transformed into a moment earlier.

"Hey, um, Shred?" I turned around. It was the nameless Slig.

"Yeah, uh, call me Cage."

"Um... okay then." Quill started to fall back to my speed.

"Shred, you haven't been telling me everything have you. This is the guy. You never told me you were with him. The Joe guy."

"Um... I'm really sorry... I thought you would turn me over to the Glukkons if I told you. Think of the promotion."

I expected Quill to get mad, and abandon us, maybe even sound the alarms, and get us all killed. But he simply shook his head.

"Listen Shred, don't insult me. I thought you knew me better than that."

He moved back ahead. I felt I had to make sure everyone was aware of the risk involved of blasting our way out of here.

"Kay, uh, listen up guys. This is really dangerous. You could get killed easily, they probably have this place locked up tight. Right Quill?"

"Uh, yeah, sure. We have to get to at least ground level. We're on the bottom. This is all underground. Only the very top of the factory is above ground level."

"Oh great. Just great. And how many floors is that?"

"Six. We have to pass through the armory first, there is something I couldn't quite fit on the cart."

"Sure, whatever. So, are you prepared to take that risk?"

Heads nodded.

"Okay then, let's go. Hey, Quill, where'd your two friends go?"

"Huh? Oh, Cast and Skid are trying to distract as many Sligs as they can up ahead. The Scrab fights are on TV in the cafeteria."

"What? We're missing the Scrab fights? Oh man," moaned Lorth.

"Shutup," said Skien.

There was nobody on our floor except a few Mudokons in the cells. I heard a quiet blast, and saw Joe was freeing them as he went. I sighed and hoped he wouldn't make to much noise. They headed in the opposite direction to us, probably afraid, of Joe and the other Sligs.

"Keep going," I whispered to Quill and dropped back a bit.

"Joe, what are you doing?!"

"Same as you, Shred, freeing my race."

"Yeah, but they'll get killed! Once we start bustin' out of here, Sligs are gonna come to secure every level, and they're gonna get shot!"

A look of unbelievable sadness crept across Joe's Scrab-like face.

"I didn't really think of that..."

"They would've been a lot safer in there then out here, believe me."

"Come up the front with me. We'll need you there."

"... Sure. Whatever."

Joe didn't release any more Mudokons after that, and we headed up an elevator, on which the platform was surprisingly big enough to fit all of us, to the first floor, where we'd escape, and be free. It was a pretty good plan, we had seven heavily armed Sligs, and three heavily armed and armored Big Bro Sligs. Plus a very powerful Mudokon, and an armored Sloggy, which was strong enough to destroy slogs three times his size. It seemed we were unstoppable. And Quill had mentioned we'd be virtually invincible once we had collected his secret weapon from the armory on the first floor. How wrong I was...


Chapter 22

I expected that the moment the elevator stopped and the doors opened, we would have half the Slig empire attacking us. The elevator stopped.

"Get ready."

And the doors opened. We all raised our weapons, ready to fire at an expected attack, but the few Sligs that were there, seemed to notice nothing too remarkable about 10 heavily armed Sligs coming up in an elevator. I glanced at Quill, half expecting he tell us why they didn't care. He seemed to get this message.

"This is very low level security. They couldn't care less about what happens around here. Unless something unusual happens."

"As unusual as a group of heavily armored Sligs?" I inquired.

"Probably. They might stir, if we're unlucky."

There was nothing particularly remarkable about the floor we were on, it was just a big warehouse with crates scattered about, and a few Mudokons waxing the floor. The Sligs didn't even seem to notice us, let alone care about us. I guess for them there was nothing unusual about a group of Sligs. But I forgot something. We weren't all Sligs. We were in the company of a Mudoscrab.

"Should we go for stealth then? Or just walk through?" said Quill.

"Neither. Remember Joe?" I said, pointing to the massive and powerful beast that stood silently behind Mute. No pun intended.

"We're gonna have to bust outta here. Not a good way to start the day."

And it was at that moment that a Slig noticed Joe.

"What the hell is that?" the Slig started firing wildly, seemingly unsure of what to do other than shoot.

Mute, Helix, Spade, Brack, Lorth, Skien and Cage started moving out of the elevator, in a V formation, as if they'd practiced it all their life.

And the other Sligs started to notice. An alarm sounded.

"It's show time," whispered Quill dryly.

"Yup."

Sledge ran out of the elevator and started shooting, followed by Quill, Joe and me.

The next few moments were fast and furious. I remember little of it other than hearing much screaming, seeing a lot of blood, and watching in awe as the seven Sligs that had all been in the same cell, professionally destroyed every Slig or other creature that opposed them.

They moved like a pack, like they'd been in training forever. They used all their weapons strategically, and seemed to be enjoying it. They not only used their weapons, but physical attacks as well. Mute seemed particularly good at tossing Sligs across the room. Joe was torn between killing Sligs, and protecting Mudokons at the same time, this he did fairly well, but naturally a Mudokon would accidentally wander into the path of fire every so often.

Nevertheless, Joe was doing a lot of damage as were the rest of the team. Sledge seemed to be doing okay, I thought he would be inexperienced, but he did his fair share.

"We've got to turn off the alarm!" shouted Helix as he blew away another Mudokon, "Or they'll just keep coming!"

A Slig ran up to me, gun aimed, and I decided to put my shredders to some use. I drove them through his chest, electrocuting him, then ripped upwards, disemboweling him. I vomited over his body and fought onwards, searching frantically for where the sound was coming from, and I spotted a simple red box that was vibrating with the sound. This seemed to be it. I fired my Grenade Launcher and fired, missing the first time but taking out several Sligs that were on a balcony above me, the second time hitting it. The ringing stopped. The fight didn't last long after that. Sligs stopped coming. The whole place smelled now, bullet ridden bodies littering the ground, that of both Mudokon and Slig. Either there were no more Sligs, or they thought the threat was gone because the alarm stopped. I hoped it was the first, but I knew it wasn't possible.

I thought that Mesh would've been killed, as the bullets were coming from everywhere. I scanned the room, and was surprised and happy to find Mesh, a Slig body hanging of one of the spikes on his amour.
I patted him.

"Good boy."

Quill ran up to me, followed by everyone else.

"Don't get too cocky," he said, "That was only one floor. There is about ten to go. Sledge looked a little shaken, but unhurt. Joe with a look of disappointment and pain as he saw the Mudokon bodies lying around. I too, had tried to avoid hitting Mudokons when I could, but the others hadn't, not even Quill. The 'team' looked proud of what they'd done, and ready for more. They weren't even panting.

"How the hell do you fight like that?"

"Like what? Oh, that. I'll teach you sometime." said Helix.

I was surprised we had all survived, maximum injuries were some light bruises, mostly from tripping over or being knocked into things. Brack laughed.

"That'll teach the Glukkons to train their Sligs better."

I felt angry that they seemed to show no compassion for their brothers, and frustrated that we'd killed so many, and achieved so little.

"Quill, why the fuck can't we just take the elevator to the floor that we escape out of?"

"Hah! If only it was that simple. The Glukkons are smarter than they seem. They made the elevator go up one floor at a time, so if there was an escape attempt they would have to go through every floor."

I was afraid that that would be the answer. As bad as I felt at killing so many of my own kind, I felt the adrenalin pump through me and harvested my anger and frustration and vented it into my ferocity, to help me in battle.

We headed back to the elevator, and Quill hit the button for us to get to the next floor...


Chapter 23

I can only describe the next four hours of my life as a living hell, as there is nothing worse that I have been through. Compared to this, torture was like a walk in the forest. Sligs and Mudokons screamed and fell around me as the crew of seven, Spade, Mute, Helix, Lorth, Brack, Skien and Cage, butchered whoever opposed them, giving them no chance at all, and time enough not even to raise their weapons. The seven Sligs called themselves, 'Pelortha's Lost Children', according to Helix, and were an independent organization who were a branch of something much bigger.

He also said that I should know what he was talking about, and he totally lost me, and I decided that they were just a group of rebels, and didn't allow myself to imagine them as anything more than that. They attacked ferociously and seemed to have no mercy and or any sense of morality. Helix seemed to be their leader, and they listened to him and not me. Not that I cared, he was doing a much better job as a leader. Sledge seemed to be doing okay, as was Quill, and I had totally underestimated Mesh as he destroyed countless Sligs. Joe still hadn't given up on the Mudokons, getting them to follow him, but every time they did, they were shot. Suddenly, Helix and his followers eyes turned a blinding white, and they went even more berserk than usual, destroying at least 10 Sligs in each in a time span of twenty seconds. And then they turned green. This went on for 8 floors. We had a short meeting on the elevator to the next floor to discuss our strategy, which every time seemed to be kill, kill, kill and then destroy the alarms. The environment that we fought in was just like any other factory I had seen, grey, with various machines. I could have sworn I could smell tobacco smoke, but it was hard to make out what I could smell through all the blood. I couldn't believe how quickly I had changed as I killed countless Sligs, and the sound of each ones scream made me even more angry at the Glukkons, and more determined to destroy them, which vented into killing Sligs. It was a vicious cycle. I was getting surprisingly good at killing, and that scared the shit out of me to an extent that I kept checking my reflection in the blood stained blades that bore my name, to make sure my eyes were still green. I didn't want to become evil, or merciless like Helix and his friends. But they were. Helix lobbed another grenade at the alarm, and entered the elevator, beckoning for us to come along.

"Well Shred, you are one of us after all." said Helix coolly.

"What do you mean?"

"A white sl... oh, never mind, you'll find out eventually."

I sighed, and turned to Quill.

"So, what exactly is this place?"

"It's a cigar factory. A brand new one. They make the cigars out of Gimmakons, the damn bastards."

"What the hell is a Gimmakon?'

"Oh, I guess you haven't heard of them. They're very rare, very fast, very powerful, and worst of all, very moral."

"How is that a bad thing?"

"I'll tell you. The Vykkers were the first to discover them. They found they were incontrollable, and created Brainboxes, so they could basically numb their consciousness, and take control of their nervous system."

"So it would be like electronically possessing them."

"Right. They discovered they were excellent soldiers, and they also discovered that they were great for cigars, so they tried to hide them from the Glukkons so they could use them as soldiers, because if the Glukkons found out, they would make the Vykkers hand them over to be turned into cigars. So they used the one they caught, which was very hard, because they are extremely hard to see, because they are so fast, and hide so well and camouflage in the trees. Anyway, somehow they caught two. They used one for a soldier, and the other for experiments. That is how they found out that they were excellent cigar material. They sent the Gimmakon down to catch some more, but no matter how hard they tried, the Gimmakon refused to hurt or capture a fellow Gimmakon, even with the Brainbox. So they made a deal with the Glukkons so that they would be able to get more Gimmmakon guards. They said that if they shared the Gimmakon find, they would split what they caught fifty fifty, but the Glukkons had to provide the Slig power to catch them. And the deal was made. The Vykkers eventually found a special rainforest oasis, in the middle of the desert, that had the largest population of Gimmakons, and had the main Gimmakon queen as well. The Glukkons provided Sligs, and with a new Vykker technology that helped Sligs spot them, they caught lots of Gimmakons, and split them fifty-fifty. So the Glukkons built a factory right in the middle of the rainforest to cut down transport of the Gimmakons, and this is that Factory.

Gimmakon Cigars. Apparently the best on Oddworld. And it makes me sick to my stomach. Once one begged me to free it, it was locked in the cage. I became friends with it, and tried to let it free, and the day I'd got the keys to his cage, they'd butchered him and turned him into a twenty pack."
The rest of the Sligs were listening, and Sledge piped up.

"Maybe we should save them or something..."

"No, that wouldn't work," said Quill, "They are mostly in the rainforest. We can't save them, because 99 percent of them aren't in here. The Vykkers have found a substance that the Gimmakons are attracted to and have slopped it all over the factory. They can't help it, they are physically dragged to it even when they don't want it. It isn't like a bait, more like a big magnet. And once they are caught, they are as good as dead. The only way would be to sabotage the panels that they attract them with, but we can't get there. They are controlled directly controlled via the Vykker ship, which I heard is crashed, so they are impossible to turn off.

A thought hit me like a brick, and my hand raced to the compartment where I had that disk. I shoved it in Quills face.

"What can we do with this?"

"Oh my Odd! How did you get this! This is the Vykkers' back up disk! This controls everything the Vykkers do should something go wrong. This would turn off the panels!"

Everybody's face lit up until Quill's dropped.

"But we can only use it in Magog Cartel Main Headquarter Supercomputers."

Joe grinned at me.

"Well," he said, "We are kinda headed that way."

"Great, I'll come."

"We will as well," said Helix.

"And me," said Sledge.

"So, why exactly are the Glukkons so pissed at the Vykkers?"

"Oh, because of us," said Helix smugly, "That's why we are in jail."

"Huh?"

"Well," said Spade, "We kinda figured that the Gims would be better off with the Vykkers than they would the Glukkons, and we made the Vykkers an offer, that we would catch Gimmakons for them, without the Glukkons knowing."

"So, you're traitors.."

"Hey! Let me finish! We captured them and took them to the Vykkers.."

"You ARE traitors! Now wonder you kill so well. You're veterans."

"For cryin' out loud, lemme finish!"

I sighed.

"Sorry. Go on."

"But we rigged the Brainboxes, so that they didn't work. The Gimmakons pretended they were under the Vykkers control, and did everything the would've been expected. Then we went and told the Glukkons that the Vykkers were secretly using the brainboxes on Sligs, and catching their own. Obviously, the Glukkons were kinda pissed."

"Very pissed," butted in Skien.

"Very very pissed," said Brack.

"Ya shoulda seen the look on Karse's face when we told him!" said Cage.

"I'd pay to see it again," said Lorth.

"And so," said Spade giving menacing looks to the foursome, "we sent a message to the Gims to evacuate the ship, which they did, and then the Glukkons shot the labs down in their new toy."

"And the Glukkons know we made the Gims escape, because they got the radio message somehow as well, and they whacked us in prison. And here we are."

I was incredibly relieved to know that they really were on our side, and marveled at their ingenious plan. It had seemed like a long elevator trip, though it had been the same length.

"10 Floors to go," said Quill as the doors opened and we were met by a barrage of bullets...


Chapter 24

Again, Pelortha's Lost Children moved out in their typical V formation, killing Slig and Mudokon alike as they went. It was getting harder to convince myself that WE were the good guys on every floor. They were no longer large rooms with crates, there were catwalks, pipes, smoke belching machines, the usual factory equipment. I hadn't yet seen a Gimmakon, as I thought I would have by now, but I continued to fight off the countless Sligs, as Helix made his way to the alarm to blast it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him fire a rocket at the small black box, as I disembowelled another Slig. The rocket hit it and exploded, but the alarm didn't stop.

"What the-" cried Helix as he blew away some more Sligs.

"Head straight for the elevator!" yelled Quill, and we fought our way through to the elevator.

"We just have to get inside and close the doors, and they can't get us," said Skien.

The others nodded. Sledge blew away a few more Sligs, and made his way towards us, shooting one way and running the other.

"Okay, we're all here. Strafe and fire," said Spade.

"Quill, what's taking so long?"

"The elevator won't open! The Glukkons have locked them all. Clever bastards. Okay, we'll have to find a ladder tube. There's one over there, quick!"

We ran towards the tube, which just looked like a ladder which led upwards into a tunnel.

"Will you guys fit?" asked Brack, gesturing to his larger friends.

"Ah crap, there's too many of them!" said Joe, "We either fight or we die! We can't keep running around like idiots! When I count to three, jump, okay? One...two...three!"

We all jumped and Joe's claws struck the ground and sent electric currents through it, frying all the Sligs and Mudokons.

"That should buy us some time, let's hurry up before more come! Well Shred, you're our leader, what do we do?"

"Uh, um, Quill, where does the ladder lead?"

"Up there," he said, pointing to a door and a catwalk above us.

"Okay, Cage, Brack, Lorth, Skien and Sledge, go up the ladder. You guys will have to climb."

"We'll get shot! Listen, we have to keep moving and defending at the same time. We haven't go time to plan what we are going to do. Us three can get up there, but not by climbing. Show us your sleeve for a sec."

"Huh?"

He grabbed it and started searching for something.

"Ah. When we are off the ground, press this button, okay?"

"Um, okay."

"Trust me! I know how these things work."

The others were already up the ladder. Joe gave an almighty jump and landed up on the catwalk with them. I climbed up the ladder, careful not to let my blades scrape the tube, or I would be zapped. The catwalk went the whole way across the room, a door on either side. Sligs started coming out of them. We fired at both sides, as the Helix, Mute and Spade jumped off the sides of the walls, and going up at the same time. it was very impressive.

"Press the button!" yelled Helix. I aimed at the floor and fired. One of the blades flew out of its socket, still attached to a wire and dug into the ground, sending electricity through it and frying the Sligs as they came out of the doors below. Suddenly Skien got hit by a spray of bullets and fell from the catwalk. If he didn't die from the fall, he would be electrocuted. I urgently hit the button to retract the blade, but it didn't respond.
"Nooooooo! Damnit, retract!"

I grabbed Joe's claw and sliced through the wire, severing the claw and supply of electricity. Skien hit the ground, landing on his pants. One of his legs broke off and he was stranded as the Sligs closed in.
"Crap. Helix, quick!"

Helix looked up and jumped from the walls to the ground. And started firing all he had at the Sligs, while shielding Skien at the same time. Joe spread his arms out to either side and sent a continuous beam of energy through each door, killing Sligs as they came, while the others climbed over the bars on either side of the catwalk and hung onto the edge of the catwalk with one hand, and fired at the Sligs below with the other. Spade and Mute jumped down also.

"They're just going to keep coming!" yelled Brack.

"We have to retreat!" said Lorth. They climbed back up on the catwalk and continued shooting. Joe had managed to Weld the two doors shut, and helped us with the Sligs down below.

Spade and Mute continued shooting, back to back, as Helix tossed Skien up to the catwalk.

Skien grabbed on the side and ejected his pants, and climbed up. He had three bullet holes in his chest. I looked at him in horror.

"I'll be...okay...they missed my lungs and heart..."

I ran a health scan on him like I had on Hammer.

"75 percent chance of death" it said.

"Ah shit. No, you can't die. You mustn't die." I took out my meditin like I'd used on Joe and gave it to him.

"Can you fix yourself up?"

"Yeah."

"Good."

We fought like this for about three hours, the Big Bro Sligs on the ground, and the rest of us shooting from the catwalk.

Quill frantically scanned the room until he saw the elevator open, with two familiar faces coming out of it.

It was Skid and Hook.

"Hey, the elevators opened!" yelled Quill.

Spade, Mute and Helix went in, gesturing for us to come down as the Sligs kept coming and shooting. We jumped down the ladder tube, bringing Skien with us and got it closed.

"We all here?" I asked wearily. Skid and Hook were with us too now, and they were fully armed.

There was some grunts and nods. Everybody. Except for one. No noise came from Skien's body. The meditin was held loosely in his hand. He had carved 'I'm sorry' in the lid.

I let out a sob, and Helix roared. He was dead. The tin hadn't been opened. He had died before he could even get it open.

His eyes again turned white, and so did the other Lost Children. And so did mine. And as the elevator door opened, and images of Skien's body flashed through my mind, I discovered what fury was... I discovered what hate was... and I discovered how to destroy what I hated, and enjoy it.


Chapter 25

I lost myself in the next few hours, filled with some kind of berserk rage, as if a monster had been locked inside me, and Skien's death was the key. I found I was becoming as merciless as the other children, and Joe and Mesh seemed to be a little scared of me, even though I was on their side.
I seemed to be in some kind of killing trance, until it was broken by an ear-piercing scream.

I turned around to see Lorth, his head within the jaws of some kind of horrific monster.

"Noo!" cried Quill, "They can't have released the Heiloze! They aren't ready!"

"What are you talking about?!" I screamed.

"Help... me..." said Lorth weakly. His weapons and pants had been ripped off him by it's tongue and thrown across to the other side of the room.
I unleashed everything I had on the creature until it dropped dead. But it had already killed Lorth, it's jaws crushing his skull moments before it died.
The crack I heard as the last bullet ripped through it's skull will remain in my head forever.

"Noooooooo!"

The others had not yet seen what had happened. They soon did. I had no strength left inside me, no power to be angry, only sad. I had lost my will to fight, but continued. No more of the Heiloze appeared.

The other children also seemed lost, after the sudden deaths of two of their comrades. After an hour more fighting we scrambled to the next elevator, and climbed inside. We were all angry, but our energy was gone. Nothing seemed worthwhile now that two of our friends had died. The pain of the loss soon became a dull ache inside me, and I concentrated on putting my anger and sadness into my fighting. I touched the the thin glass case that separated the air from my eye. Joe noticed me do it.

"They're still green, Shred. You are a good Slig, you always will be."
I nodded vaguely. Joe had suffered many losses of Mudokons too. I had killed countless amounts of Sligs, and I deserved to die myself. I was no better than the Glukkons. Killing to achieve my goals, without considering that the Sligs I destroyed had their own view on the world. Their own dreams and goals, their own thoughts. They did not fight for the Glukkons because they wanted to, they fought because they were forced too. I fought of my own free will. Those Sligs were better than me.

Quill panted, as he struggled to force out information about the Heiloze. The one I had seen had four long legs, coming out of it's side, slanting upwards, bending up the top, so they were shaped like an upside down V, and ending with a cruel, twisted talon. Coming out of its flank were fan shaped things, with a slit going down the end. They weren't very thick, only a few inches. It had a small, compact abdomen, which the legs came out of, with tiny spikes going up its spine and onto its long, whiplike tail.

Its head was attached to a short thick neck, the head looking somewhat like an Elums, except that it had two horns coming out the side of it's head, and three eyes on the top. It had a wide mouth, filled with teeth, with a wide thin tongue that had held Lorth as he had struggled weakly to escape.

"That thing, was called a Heilo," said Quill,

"The Glukkons genetically engineered them so that they would always obey the Glukkons. I think they plan on using them on what's left of the Vykkers...they are also programmed to capture escaping Gims and prisoners like us.."

"They are the ones that should be in prison...those bastards, I hate them," said Sledge.

Everybody nodded. Mesh let out a low whimper. I stroked his head, dry blood encrusted on it. The blood was his.

I took my meditin from my pants and put a bandage around Mesh's head.

"Anyone else?"

Mute raised his hand, and I threw it to him. He had a bullet hole in his arm. Helix squinted at it.

"You'll be okay. I need it, when you're done. Some bastard cut off me finger," he said, showing us a three fingered hand. Joe turned a shade of green.

Skid and Hook were silent, and uninjured, seemingly repairing themselves mentally and physically for the next floor. Eight to go.

"They will probably unleash more of the Heiloze. Be careful. Our numbers have dropped by two."

I had regained a little energy on the elevator, and was ready.

"This floor will be a lot bigger. You may see some Gimmakons as well. Try not to kill any.'

Helix simply grunted as did the others, as the doors opened, and once again, we faced hell...


Chapter 26

I don't know what had replaced the supposedly good Slig called Shred. But whoever it was, I didn't like it. It was the darker side of me I guess, the part that wants to unleash all its pain. I don't know why I fought the way I did. I seemed to have lost all sense of morality, and all sense of control. It was like my gentle and caring and compassionate side was sitting back and enjoying the ride while my violent side took hold, and didn't want to give it back. I didn't want it to come back. It was easier this way. I didn't have to feel the mental pain as I slaughtered Slig after Slig. I could just watch as I blew off another Sligs head, then stabbed its lifeless body as it twitched, hanging from my shredders. Joe watched me, and shuddered a little. I think I was scaring him. This was the side of me he hadn't before seen. It just seemed necessary to kill. It seemed like I was put on this crap of a planet so I could kill. I was in a trance, a killing frenzy. And the only reason I can link it to is the deaths of Skien and Lorth.

I don't know why. I don't know why I kill. My mind says I have no choice. But I do have a choice. I can kill, or be killed. But I don't want to die, so I kill. But isn't that selfish? I kill others to save myself, don't I? But that is survival...I must kill to live. Even if it is selfish. It is the law of Oddworld. And that is why I didn't stop.

Then came the Heiloze. Cage's full of them dropped from the roof. They surrounded us, threatening to kill us at any second they wished. Their long silvery tongues lashed out at us, as we were forced into a tight circle, only each other's backs protecting our own. Slowly we expanded our circle as we continued firing. Brack suddenly shot something on the roof. The lights in the room turned green. Suddenly the Heiloze started attacking and killing each other.

"Quick! Now's our chance!" yelled Quill. Helix, Mute and

Spade took out their shields and barraged through. The light had somehow affected them, and they ignored us as we charged through the countless Heiloe bodies to the elevator.

Suddenly the lights reverted back to their original colour and the Heiloze realised what they were doing and started chasing us. We started firing and running backwards at the same time. Some how my pants spun the legs so my legs were running forwards, and I ran much faster. But the others couldn't. I got to the elevator, frantically hitting the switch as the others kept coming. It finally opened and everyone came flying in. I did a quick head count. Helix, Mute, Spade, Hook, Skid, Joe, Mesh, Quill, Sledge, Cage and...

"Aaaaaaaarrrgh!" cried Brack. He was jammed between the closing elevator doors as a Heiloe tried to pull him out. We grabbed him and pulled. I reached to press the button to open the elevator door completely when Helix grabbed my wrist.

"As much as I hate to say it Shred, you can't open that door. If you do, we'll die in a matter of minutes."

He fired through the narrow gap between the doors at the Heiloe pulling Brack. Slowly the Heiloe started widening the doors as it pulled Brack through the slowly widening crack. The crack became a huge gap, and the Heiloe pulled through Brack as he screamed.

"Noooooooooooo!"

Helix hit the button and the doors closed as we heard the Heiloes feeding on Brack. I couldn't bring myself to be angry, or sad. Helix held his head in his hands, while the others looked pale and depressed.

Helix stood up.

"We have lost three Sligs. Three friends. Shred, this is turning into a suicide mission. It just isn't worth it."

I could hear him, but I wasn't listening. I didn't want to be talked to by him, or anyone else. I hated him. I hated Joe. I hated everything. Mesh leaped up into my arms and licked my face. I realised none of us had drank or eaten, except for Mesh, for a long time, and fatigue was quickly setting in on us. I hate this world. It isn't worth the pain of death. I wondered why I bothered to continue to fight. But as long as I didn't, the Glukkons would continue to rule this planet, and death and pain would rule with them.


Chapter 27

"He saved our lives," said Spade.

"He shot...what did he shoot?" asked Sledge.

Helix laughed.

"Smart bastard, he's always been the one to decipher computer passwords and stuff like that...he shot the light box, made the lights go back to their default colour."

"Green?" I said.

"Yes", explained Quill, "Green made the Gimmakons calm down, it reminded them of their home...but it drove the Heiloze nuts, so they changed the colour to normal old yellow. He must have shot the light box, knocked out the system, Glukkons got it back up though..speaking of which, we should be seeing Gimmakons fairly soon."

"Are they going to cause any trouble?"

"I doubt it...they'll probably just be trying to escape...avoid hurting them if you can, they won't hurt you, the more of them there are, the more resources the Glukkons will use on getting them back instead trying as hard to get us...the bastards will have their hands full."

"Yeah. Okay, here is the new strategy. We have to surround them...there aren't as many now, there forces are running thinner on every floor," I said.
"Yeah, that bitch Skillya is probably trying to pop out sligs left right and center," said Hook.

"So if we surround them and close in on them, it will be harder for them, they'll have to deal with all sides simultaneously...once we get the upper hand, we shouldn't have any problems. Got it?"

They nodded.

I felt a little better, the air seeming a little lighter, and the fact that we weren't as far away as we were yesterday.

"How many floors to go?" Skid asked.

"Urm, 8 I think..."

The doors opened.

The death of Brack seemed to have knocked me out of my killing rage that I had went through on the previous floor, I was a lot calmer and more rational. I killed only those who attempted to kill me. I saw some new shapes running around, as we formed a circle, closing in on the sligs.
Quill noticed the questioning look on my face.

"Gimmakons!" he yelled. The Gimmakons were killing Sligs all over the place, but ignored us. They stood on two thick, muscled arms with two large toes on each arm. They were roughly 2 metres high. In the middle of them was a long, tubular tentacle, that had a split down the middle. Trinagular black stripes covered their brown bodies. They swung it underneath them, it going under a leg when it lifted the leg. Some walked differently, with the tail dragging behind them. But the others had the tail split apart, revealing rows and rows of teeth, and a long, whiplike tongue. Some stuck to the walls like they'd eaten about a million KlimeKakes. I wished we could climb on the walls, it would be a lot easier to dispatch the Sligs. Others just kicked ass everywhere. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bright vending machine. It had the word KlimeKakes on them. It was as if Odd had heard me and put it there. I ran over to it, but realised I had no Moolah, and stepped back and blasted a hole in it. I grabbed a Kake and ate it. It was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted... not because it actually tasted good, it was like cardboard, but I hadn't eaten for days. I grabbed about 10 and jumped on the wall, finding that I could stick to it like a Magknet. I threw a Kake each to the others, they quickly ate them and jumped to the walls. Spade, Helix and Mute each attached a shield to their backs and climbed upwards, bullets harmlessly deflecting off them. Some even hitting the sligs below. Me and the others didn't have shields. Mute aimed his Rocket Launcher and fired one upwards. It hit the roof, and rocks started falling down to us.

"Mute, you idiot!" I yelled. I didn't have time to be forgiving. At least now there was a hole in the roof, and t looked like it lead into a storeroom or something, the Glukons often held things in walls or rooves.

We climbed as fast as we could, one arm shooting, the other climbing. Soon we were high above them, trying to get to the roof We tossed several grenades onto the ground, in areas where there weren't any Gimmakons.

"There!" yelled Quill suddenly. I looked up and saw the hole in the roof, flying Sligs pouring out of it.

"Ah, shit!" yelled Helix.

I jumped off the wall, about 5 metres above the ground.

"Grid, what the hell are you doing?!"

"Quickly, air mode."

"Affirmative," came the computerised voice. My legs folded up as I watched. I saw the tiny kennel compartment pushing itself further into my pants to make room for the coptor blades. I looked to the wall to see how Mesh was doing. And Mesh wasn't there. He was on the ground, yapping frantically as he took down Sligs and leaping in the air, trying to get my attention. It was lucky we hadn't hit him when we were dropping the bombs. Odd must've been helping out again. I swooped lower, beckoning to Helix to go ahead, quickly scooping up Mesh, the Sligs too stunned to move as a grenade fell from the sky.

"Heads!" yelled one of my companions from above. I missed the explosion by inches. It was getting hard to fly, as I had too much weight. As I flew upwards again I checked that there were no more Gimmakons on the ground, and started dropping all my bombs to lighten the load. I suddenly noticed something peculiar, the room seemed smaller than before...then I realised, the walls were closing in on each other...

"Faster! Co me, let's go!" I yelled to the others. I was surprised that the Flying sligs hadn't started firing yet, it seemed they were teasing the others and boasting of their superiority, apparently to make the others moral go down and distract them from climbing. The room was very high, and they had about 20 metres to go. I felt a stab of despair in my gut, as I realised that we wouldn't make it out of here alive. There was no way. Mesh tried to scramble into his kennel, but found he couldn't fit with his armour, shedding it and dropping it below. It's spikes impaled onto an unfortunate Slig below. He got in and was safe. I tried to reach around to pat him, but found something else...I took the canister and read the label.
BigBigBoom. I laughed. The Glukkons always find interesting names for their products. It was heavy, and must've been one of the main things that was weighing me down. I grabbed the other canisters. They all read, next to the lable, 'EXTREMELY POWERFUL-FOR A BIG BIG BOOM YOU CAN RELY ON BIGBIGBOOM.'

I threw them down to the ground as I continued my ascent. The flying sligs still taunted them, and I saw they'd stopped climbing and started shooting at them.

"Shred, we need your help!" yelled Joe. They were struggling getting a shot at the flying sligs. There were about 50 of them. One took a hit from Cage and started falling to the ground, on fire. ABout five more followed. The sligs seemed to have noticed the BigBigBoom's, and frantically started running to the Klime Machine.

"Detonate BigBigBooms?" the computer asked me.

"Um, yes. Yeah, hurry!"

I expected a few small explosions down below, thinking that the Sligs were just trying to get up to us, as the bullets were fairly ineffective, since the others were so high. But all I heard, was an extremely high, ear piercing sound coming from below. The explosion that followed deafened me. Smoke and pieces of debris flew up into the air, the smoke hiding the untold damage below. I turned on my visor and peered down. There was nothing there, just wall. I tapped the side of my mask, thinking something was wrong with it.

I heard a huge crash, then another, then another, each only slightly fainter than the previous. The smoke cleared, and I saw there was absolutely nothing. I had completely blown out the floor. Which had fallen on top of the floor below. And the floor below that.

"Don't look down!" I yelled.

Everyone, of course, looked down.

Sligs started falling all around me, as the others picked them off one by one.

I looked up and counted 10. No more were coming, it seemed. I flew up, as the others continued climbing.

"Hurry Shred! The Klime is wearing off!"

"You're nearly there! I'll take care of them."

"Oooooohhh!" said one of the flyers, "Are trying to escape?"

He wagged a finger at me.

"Naughty naughty!"

I flew at him and ripped his helipants off. He started to fall, but grabbed onto one of the blades. Bad idea. His hand flew off and he fell screaming. I threw the helipants at another, knocking him off guard, before I blasted the crap out of him with my railgun. His blood splattered across the still closing wall. I moved quickly, the remaining 8 sligs seemingly stunned. I blew another's head off. I no longer felt compassion for the sligs, knowing that I had to do it. Plus the fact that that first one had pissed me off.

"Well, well, well," said a flyer, "Not bad. Shame about that guy who was eaten by the Heiloe. Tore him into little bitty pieces, and spread him all over the place. Heh heh, it was splattastic!"

The other sligs guffawed, and I flew up to him, grabbed him by the neck, and shoved my shredders through his stomach, wiggled them around, ripping out his heart, impaled on the blade. I showed it to him, and threw him at the wall, then flew up to another, punched him with my sleeve, sending the shredders through his brain, then flicked his lifeless body off the blades at another Slig, before blowing off his arms, stabbing him through the chest, then throwing his body over his head. There goes six.

"Who wants more?"

The other sligs looked terrified at what they'd just seen and started flying away. I saw that the others were at the top, watching. But that wasn't enough.

"Huh? Running away? Scared? Oh dear, I don't think Skillya would be too happy about you guys running off. Think of the promotion you'd get if you killed me? A runaway Slig? Surely there would be a Big Bro promotion up there for grabs, surely. Don't disappoint me now. I don't think you'd want to be Skillya's breakfast. So I advise you come back. Those six sligs I killed, your friends? Don't you want your revenge? Surely you could kill me? I'm just one Slig! There's four of you."

The sligs turned around and headed back slowly and cautiously. The others climbed slowly into the hole. It was a small room. They looked down, Joe mouthing the words 'You need help' I shook my head. I found I enjoyed inflicting pain on those sligs. And I wanted to do it some more.
"Wh..wha-whoaaaaa!" Cage fell from the hole, Helix rushing to grab him, but too late. I tried to get underneath him to catch him, but the other flyers beat me to it. They grabbed him and pointed a gun to his head.

"The table's have turned, Mr Runaway Slig. It looks like you're going to have to come with us, unless you want us to blow your friends brains out, or better yet, take him to Skillya so she can roast him slowly.."

I rushed up to the nearest Slig, pressed him against the wall. I shoved my shredders into his pants, electrocuting him until he became alight. I left him there and watched him burn, before letting him drop to the ground. The remaining three didn't care at all.

"That was a risky move, Mr Temper. You're lucky he wasn't a close friend, or your friend would be cactus now. All we have to do is let go. Now, are you coming with us or not? I would advise your friends to join you, or, again, your friend will die. Very convenient bargaining chip, your friend here. Who says opportunities don't just fall from the roof, eh? Well? What will it be, escapee?"

"My name is Shred. Would you like to meet who I named myself after?" I said, raising my blades to only inches away from his face.

"Is that a threat? Threats are no-nos. Don't make me accidentally forget not to let your friend go, by the way, I can be very forgetful."

There was nothing I could do.

"Okay. How about this. You against me, one on one, no weapons except for a knife, an aerial slog fight. I lose, I'm dead and you get your promotion, you lose, and you give my friend back."

"Okay then. Drop your weapons."

My original intention was to have an actual fight like I had suggested, until I saw that the walls were getting very close to crushing us.

"How about I give my weapons to my friends, and you give yours to them."

"Uh-uh. No way, You think I'm that dumb? Drop them."

"Heheh, I wish you were that dumb, but haven't you noticed the walls are about to crush us, in about say, 10 minutes?"

"Then we'll have to fight fast, won't we?"

He threw away his machine gun, and I dropped my railgun. Of course I conveniently forgot to discard the weapons he couldn't see, but I knew he was cheating in some way too.

He rushed at me, knife in hand, and I retracted one Shredder, leaving me one to use as a knife, I swung it at him, missing narrowly, then he swung at me, I grabbed his arm and twisted it, hearing a loud snap. Lovely.
He screamed in pain, and I broke his other one. His hand still clenched the knife. I stabbed in the joint of his arm, making his drop it in surprise and pain. I grabbed his around the neck and threw him at the wall. Before he fell, I flew underneath him and flew up, delivering a painful blow to his stomach. More cracks followed. The other two sligs remained nervous, while I heard soft cheers from higher up. I punched him several times with my real arm, then ripped off his mask, and punched him some more. I ripped off his helipants, and started beating him up with them. It felt good to distribute pain to someone else who was hurting you .I dropped the pants, and flew upwards, carrying him by his arm, accidentally purposely smashing him at the wall every now and again.

I showed his shattered but still breathing body to his two friends, looking white, Cage looking happy.

"Now, I'll give you two options. I'll let you take him while he's still alive, and you give me back Cage, or, I'll kill all three of you, and take Cage anyway. How about it?"

The Slig holding the gun to Cage's head laughed.

"That was all very nice, but he was just another useless Slig who though he was our friend, and agreed to pretend to be me. You have no bargaining chip, I'm still running the show."

I dropped the Slig, and listened to his screams.

And then heard a bang, as the Slig pulled the trigger, and blew Cage's brains onto the wall.

"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! You bastard!"

Suddenly spikes came out of the walls, as the Slig dropped Cage's body. I tried to grab it, but was stopped when a bullet ripped through my shoulder.

"Argh!" It went through clean, but it really hurt. I went completely berserk. I took him and stabbed him and stabbed him and stabbed him and stabbed him. He went into convulsions and set alight. Shred stabbed him onto a spike, then grabbed the other Slig and impaled him into another spike. Helix started climbing down the spikes, swinging on them, grabbed the sligs head and yanked upwards, ripping the sligs body in half, and ripped it apart with his hands as he screamed, then grabbed the other one and did the same. Helix' eyes were bright white, and looking at the blood on my blades, I found mine were too. The others climbed down as well. Suddenly white beams came out of my eyes and hit the roof, taking out the whole roof. I raced up as sligs started shooting down, another bullet ripped through my elbow, but I just didn't care. Somehow I was bouncing off the wall like I'd had about a million expressos. So were the others. Mesh got out of my pants and held on gently with his jaw to my sleeve. I killed everything that got in my way as I transformed back to my regular pants and headed to the elevator. I got in, and the others followed. We were all physically and mentally exhausted. Helix somehow managed enough energy after our sudden burst of fury to pat me on the shoulder.

"It isn't your fault. You did you best."

I was about to say it was, and I saw the puddle of blood beneath me and slumped down to the ground, and shut my eyes.


Chapter 28

"Shred, listen to me," said Helix urgently, "There is no way we can bust outta here. Cage. Brack. Lorth. Skien. All dead. How many more of us will die before we get out of here, huh? I know I wanna make it out alive. When I joined your little suicide mission I expected to get out alive, and my friends to be alive too."

I looked at him despairingly, searching for the right words.

"Then surrender. You won't die. Just surrender. If I'm going to die, I'm going to die free, not as property of the Glukkons, but property or Shred, the free Slig."

"You aren't free. You're still here. You won't be free until you get outta this place. And at the moment, it isn't looking likely."

"At least I'll die trying, and not in some mouldy old cell. Brack, Lorth, Skien, Cage. Do you think I wanted them to die? I can't guarantee your survival, no more than you can guarantee mine. You took the risk. You pay the price."

"I didn't pay the price. They did. So shut up about sacrifice, shut up about risk, just shut up altogether. You don't care if anybody gets outta here alive but you."

I stood up and looked into Helix' eyes.

"What do you suggest then? You got a better plan? Let's here it. Sitting in a cell isn't going to get us outta here, is it?"

Helix slumped to the ground in exasperation.

"Look, I'm sorry. You're doing a great job... there just... there just has to be an easier way outta here! Quill?"

Quill threw his hands in the air.

"Don't look at me, I don't have the slightest idea of where we are. It's like a huge maze.. the Glukkons must've built it... I don't know why..."

We crouched together in the tiny space we had. It was like a huge ventilation shaft. The elevator had stopped, jammed by the Glukkons, Quill had said. We had blown a hole out of the side of the elevator and climbed up the cable with some nifty hook devices we'd found attached to our armour, and climbed up until we found a room that seemed to extend forever. Then we were stuck there, arguing, with only endless tunnel behind or in front of us.

If I hadn't been sane at the time I would have sworn that my reflection in the stainless steel wall of the shaft we were in was mocking me, as we sat there wondering feebly what we should do now. There was only a seemingly infinite path in front of us, and only the stopped elevator behind us.

"I think we'll be safe here," said Joe, "Maybe we should rest. One of us can do a watch."

"I don't know..." said Helix, "If we stay here we can get some rest, and we need rest, but on the other hand it will give the Glukkons time to recharge their forces. It's a no win situation."

"Well at least we might live longer if we have our energy back," said Skid.

"True. We'll rest, but not for long, then we'll head up that path. Quill?"

"Huh?"

Quill was obviously exhausted, and he was in his own little world at the moment.

"Oh yeah, sure..."

"I'll do the first watch," said Sledge.

"Okay... you're up to it?"

"Absolutely."

"Okay... if you say so."

Sledge still had plenty of energy left in him, and I trusted him completely, so I let him. And I drifted off into a sleep, my railgun and chaingun at my side.


Chapter 29

There was blood all over the place. The walls, the roof, the ground. No body. Just blood. Mute was missing.

"WHO THE FUCK WAS MEANT TO BE KEEPING WATCH?!" screamed Helix.

"He was," said Spade quietly. We swapped.

"Then how come nobody woke up?!" Helix was hysterical, screaming. I slumped against the wall, my head between my mechanical knees.

"Mute couldn't talk, remember?' yelled Spade, "He was my friend too. So was Skien, so was Brack, Lorth, Cage."

Helix looked at him despairingly...

"But... surely... there was... some... sound..."

"Think back Helix, to Ornol, you ripped out his whole voicebox... remember?"

"SHUT UP! I'll do the same to you if you don't shut up and leave me alone."

The others were shocked. Sow as I. Helix was the one who had silenced Mute for the rest of his life.

"You can't handle the guilt. Mute died because of you!"

Helix pointed his gun at Spade.

"I said... shut up... I don't want to hurt you... but I..."

"Yeah... you'll hurt me... killing me isn't going to bring back Mute. He's dead. If you kill me whatever slim chance we have of getting out of here will be even less. I knew this was suicide. 5 Sligs have been killed. 5 of us. 5 of Pelortha's Lost Children are dead. I don't want it to be six, or seven."
I stood up wearily, feeling even more tired than before. I felt weak, I knew I'd lost a lot of blood. We'd lost my medkit. My future looked like it would end that day. I grinned and stepped in front of Helix.

"If you kill him, I'll kill you."

"Shut up, all of you!" said Quill, "Listen to yourselves! We are falling apart! We're all sorry that Mute is dead. We can't afford to go back to sleep, or whatever it was that killed Mute will get another one of us. I don't know what it is, but it didn't make a sound. It could sneak behind us and kill it at any moment. Sound is our greatest ally in this shaft. We should be able to hear anything for a kilometer either side of us! Now come on, we've gotta head up here and see where it takes us. We need to get to a sick bay as well, Shred, you're injured."

I looked at several bullet holes in my shoulder and chest... they hurt a lot, but it didn't seem to worry me, I'd been through worse. I started walking along the shaft, beckoning for the others to come. We walked for an hour, everyone in silence, Helix, who usually was close to me, was trailing. He fumbled with his gun, checking it over and over, seeing it was loaded. I swear he must've looked for danger over his shoulder every five seconds. This mission was really getting to him. It was getting to all of us. There was only seven of us left. Helix, who was now reduced from a brave warrior to a nervous wreck. Spade, who was now trying to get as far from Helix as he could. I was still shocked about what Spade had said to Helix, and remained wondering whether it was true or not, but judging from the look of eternal guilt on Helix's face, it was true. I stubbornly refused to believe that Helix would purposely hurt anyone on his side, but deep down I knew I was wrong. We came to a split in the tunnel. A path to the right, and a path to the left.

"Any ideas?" I said to Quill, who seemed to have his concentration on something else.

"Huh? Oh, I don't know." Quill had lost all hope. He no longer cared whether he made it out alive or not.

I sighed, and looked to the others for support. Joe merely shrugged, and Hook and Skid... weren't there.

"What the.. Helix, where the hell are Hook and Skid?!"

"I don't know.. they turned around... I tried to stop them... they said it was suicide to go on... I think they're right... what's the point, Shred? We aren't going to make it out of here. Not even you." He smiled like he was in some kind of dream.

"I'm sorry to destroy your hope, because that's all you have, isn't it. Look, you're dying already..." he pointed to the trail of blood behind me.

"Why didn't you try to stop them?!" I said angrily.

He shrugged. "No point, is there? They would've only died If I hadn't let them go. I don't want to be signing anybody's death warrant."

"You signed Mute's" hissed Spade.

"You're right. I did. And I'm sorry."

Joe glared at him in disgust.

"You are pathetic. You can just sit here and feel sorry for yourself, I'm not waiting up. Come on Shred, let's go."

"No... we can't just... leave him here..."

"Why not?" mused Helix. "I'm as good as dead anyway."

Quill was pacing up and down.
"Listen Shred, we're wasting time. I might still have my Employee map... it won't show the tunnels, but we may be able to determine where we're headed."

He checked his pants, and found a little scrunched up piece of paper. He spread it out on the ground, and illuminated it with a torch.

"Now, we were here when the flyers attacked," he said, putting his middle finger on a desolate spot in the corner of the map.

"Here is the elevator... it jammed roughly halfway.. .which is about here..."

"And?"

"Well, according to this map, if we had jumped out of the elevator halfway, we would've fallen to a messy death."

Helix mimicked a falling sound and then burst out laughing. I ignored him. He had completely snapped. Mute's death had hit him harder than anyone, except maybe for Spade who was leaning against the wall, staring into space. Joe looked restless, he couldn't keep still, as he walked in small circles, coming over to look at the map occasionally.

"It's useless," said Quill, "This map is no help at all."

I grimaced and looked at Mesh, unaware of the intensity of the situation we were in. He just wanted to play. I patted him on the head wearily, and he leapt up to lick my face. It was just what I needed.

"Look, sitting here isn't going to help. Spade, Joe, you two go down that way 20 metres, and Quill and I will go down the other path. 20 metres. Then return and report what you could see. Got it? Helix, wait here. If we get lost, we can get back here with the sound of your voice, okay?"

"Of course. You can rely on me."

"What about me?" said a timid voice. It was Sledge. I had completely forgotten about him. He had been so quiet I hadn't noticed him there.

"Oh, um, you can stay here with Helix."

"Okay."

"Mesh, stay with Sledge."

Mesh ran and licked Sledge's face.

"Are you sure it's wise to split up?" said Quill.

"Any better ideas?"

"Not really."

"Exactly."

I started heading down the path slowly and carefully, Quill at my side.

"You make a great leader, Shred. You've handled this much better than the rest of us."

"How little you know about me then," I said, and I hoped to Odd I would make it out of this place alive.


Chapter 30

I heard a loud bang to my left.

"OW! You bastard! What the hell is that?!"

Joe's voice. Then a gunshot.

"That'll teach ya!"

Quill looked at me and when turned around and ran up the other path. Joe and Spade stood over the crumpled body of Skid.

"Little shit snuck up on us with a metal bar. I don't think he had friendly intentions. Sorry Quill."

Quill stared at the body.

"That isn't Skid..." said Quill.

"Yeah, it is..."

"No it isn't Shred. Look."

I couldn't see anything unusual. He had all the armour. All the weapons he'd been equipped with. He looked just like him.

"Skid may be a coward... but he wouldn't do that... and..."

He rolled Skid onto his back, revealing a large slash down his chest. He took his dagger and opened up the fresh wound. Inside was a clear worm. A Fekt. But this one was different... it had something inside it, a tiny metal bar, glowing bright red.

"Vykker creation. Has to be," said Quill.

"But... the Vykkers are all dead... the Glukkons busted em up," I said.
"Then there must be another lab," said Spade.

I glanced over at Helix, who was acting like he was 7 years old, rambling about Halo Knights or something... I tried to pay attention to his rambling and the discussion at hand at the same time, as I'd learnt that listening to drunks or mentally disabled people, or people who aren't in their right mind, could provide you a great deal of information.

"Spade... what are.., Halo Knights?"

He looked at me strangely, like I was as warped as Helix.

"Um... sorry, I have no idea."

Sledge rested against the wall, studying the floor.

"You okay man?" Sledge?"

"Yeah... just tired..."

I turned around and saw Quill carefully cutting the Fekt in half. In writhed and squirmed before Quills dagger went through it. He extracted the metal bar, and handed it to me.

"Use your computer thingy and see what it says."

I held it up to my eyes, and a visor swept over them. A few beeps later, it started vibrating. Beams shot from my eyes hitting the bar, disintegrating it on impact, burning my fingers.

"Ow! Damnit!"

"Obviously there are some Vykkers who don't want other Vykker's finding about their creations," said Quill.

"Yeah... so the Glukkons only wiped half the Vykkers?"

"It would appear so... so where is the other lab?"

"It isn't in the sky," said Spade.

"What makes you think that?" asked Sledge, listening in.

"When me and the rest of the gang were at Vykker's Labs in the air, I remember hearing a conversation about 'the other labs down there'. It's down underground. Where I don't know. We'll probably never find it."

"It would have to be close for this Fekt to get here wouldn't it?" said Quill.

"Yeah... come on, we can't waste any more time. The Vykkers have nothing to do with us. Hopefully the Glukkons and the Vykkers will wipe each other out and Sligs and Mudokons can live in peace."

"Yeah... now wouldn't that be something..."


Chapter 31

We turned around and headed back up our paths. Quill a few paces behind me.

"Try and keep up..."

"Sorry..."

"You really think there are more labs?"

"There has to be... you seen any shortage of pants?"

"... No..."

"My point exactly."

A few metres ahead of us, I saw a think shaft of light piercing the present greyness or the area.

"Look!"

We ran over to it. A tiny crack in the ground revealed an even tinier hole.

"Stand back."

I laid a small mine on the hole, ran back to the edge of the path, Helix still rambling, and hit the detonator switch. The explosion reverberated. Spade and Joe ran out of the other passage, armed and ready, expectant of a fight.

"What the hell was that?" said Joe.

"Let's go have a look."

The blast had done minimal damage, a tiny hole appearing where there was once a small crack. Just big enough to slip through. Nobody was below, and I squeezed through the gap, scratching my sides on the jagged edge of the hole. My wounds had healed extraordinarily fast, I noticed, I was no longer bleeding, nothing but a red, raw scar to prove my injury. The room was an office. A Glukkon office. Scrab Cake wrappers littered the floor.

"Slob," I muttered as I heard Quill land softly from the hole above.

"Where are we?" I asked.

"Looks like the Glukkon offices... we're too high..."

"Too high?" said Spade.

Quill strolled over to a wall and tapped it softly with the butt of his railgun.

"Stand back," he muttered. We did what he said, as he blew a hole through the wall with his shotgun.

The view was stunning. The first rays of natural light I had seen in over a filled me with new hope. I walked over to the edge. Below me was rainforest that seemed to stretch out for miles, then desert. Just desert.

"We can escape!" I cried excitedly, "We can fly away! I can fly, and Joe, you can fly, Spade, you and Helix can climb down the side of the building until it's safe for you to jump, Mesh will be with me, and I can carry Sledge and Joe can carry Quill!"

"That might work!" Quill looked more excited than I was.

We climbed back into the shaft, and ran back to Sledge and Helix and Mesh. As we came closer, we heard sobbing. We ran into the room. And saw Sledge. And Mesh. And we saw Helix.

But we didn't see them how we would've liked.


Chapter 32

Helix held Sledge by the neck several feet from the ground, laughing at us. He twitched his hand, and I heard a sickening crack. Sledge's body fell lifeless to the ground.

I couldn't speak. Helix had just slaughtered Sledge.

"No!" cried Quill. His eyes glowed white. He leapt off the ground and put a two footed kick into Helix's face. Helix reached out and tore off his weapons belt. Quill landed and grabbed Sledge's gun. He started firing at Helix.

I was frozen there. I couldn't even manage to see what Spade and Joe were doing. He blasted Helix. The bullets were heading straight for his head. I waited for the cry, the spurt of blood, the thud when Helix's body hit the ground. It didn't come. He sneered and I felt a sharp thud in my back. I flew into the air before hitting the wall. I slid down before feeling Joe's limp body hitting me. It was Helix. How had he gotten behind me?! It was just him, Quill and Spade. He picked up Quill, got him into a headlock before jumping up and flipping over backwards, slamming Quill's head into the ground. Spade ducked under Helix's swinging arm. Spade punched him, grabbed him by the neck, picked him up and smashed him into the world.

"Yes!" I cried hoarsely.

But Helix reversed and five seconds later Spade was on his back. He picked up Quills body andput him in a headlock. Quill was still holding Sledge's gun weakly.

"Pathetic..." he snarled.

"Helix! Why are you doing this?! Why did you kill Sledge, you bastard, you monster!"

"Helix? Hehehehe, I disposed of him long ago. I'm not Helix. I am Nail."

Nail tightened his grip on Quills neck. Nail snatched Sledge's gun from Quills hands and pointed it to his head.

"No!" I cried.

"No? Then how about you give me that lovely disc you found? If you give it to me I'm pretty sure my trigger finger would be so happy it wouldn't kill your friend here."

I stared him down, glaring. I started to reach for my Personal Stuff compartment to get the disc. Quill had helped me. I had to help him. Disc or no disc. My hands brushed a small red button on my pants. The bomb I put on Sledge's gun. I was paranoid, and had put it there as an insurance policy should he rebuke. But now he was dead. And Nail had us in the palm of his hand. But pressing the red button would kill Quill... but it would kill Nail as well...

Quills eyes slowly opened, and he panicked, arms flailing, trying to escape Nails hold on him. Quill's eyes rose to the gun held to his head. Nail hadn't seen the small bomb.

Quill had. He looked at me and twitched his head enough so as to express a nod. I wasn't going to kill him. I couldn't. I wouldn't. I won't.

I took the disc from its compartment. I ran my fingers over it, wondering about its power, wondering why Nail wanted it... I presumed it had something to do with what it could do with the Magog Cartel computers. Lots of damage. I didn't know which side Nail was on. I held the disc out to Nail, just in front of his snout. The attack was lightning fast, and I knew it was coming. Joe came from the left, grabbing the arm reaching out for the disc, and turned it over and put a blade through his elbow. He howled in pain and released Quill as I took his other arm and did the same with my Shredders, and Spade came and landed a fierce punch to his chest. I was about to kill him when a large clunking made the walls of the tunnel vibrate. Two large figures emerged from the shadow. One had a long scar running down his chest, and a mechanical right arm. The other was huge. Holding a huge gun.

"Well, well, well," said Hammer, "It's my good friend Shred. Shred, I'd like you to meet Ruster, my friend. I take it you've already met Nail," gesturing to the figure nearby.

Nail's arms glowed. And he bent them backwards, a loud crack filling the room.

"That's better."

Ruster was huge. He towered over both Hammer and Nail. Hammer and Nail. What a cute little pair, name wise. Not so cute in reality. Three giant killing machines versus one freak Slig, another Slig with spikes protruding from his spine, a Mud who could turn into some Scrab hybrid, and a Big Bro Slig. A as in one. And a small spiky Sloggy.

The odds weren't good.


Chapter 33

"So, how do you like my acting skills?" said Nail, pacing up and down in front of us, Hammer and Ruster behind him, "Surely at least you, Spade, suspected something was changed in me after the battle at Ornoth? When I killed your noble leader Helix and took his place? You aren't as good a warrior as I thought."

Spade glared at Nail, saying nothing. His eyes glowed white. His body emitted a bright white aura. Nails eyes went black. His body emitted a night black aura.

I couldn't talk. Neither could Joe. Mesh ran behind me, curling up and whimpering softly. Spade teleported behind Nail, and nailed him, no pun intended, in the back with his elbow. Nail flinched and appeared behind me, grabbing me around the neck. Ruster was running after Joe, Joe trying to get around him with his agility. Mesh leapt up and bit through Hammers neck. Quill jumped on Nails back, and Nail charged backwards into a wall, smashing Quill, and letting me go at the same time. Spade picked up Hammer and pounded him in pure rage against a wall.

"ARRRRRGH!," Quill screamed. I turned around to see all his spines had either broken or been shoved into him. Quills eyes glowed white. What the hell was happening? I quickly glanced at my own eyes through the reflection of my blades.

Still green. But Spade's and Quill's were white, and their bodies made the same blinding white aura. They could teleport as well. I looked around at my friends, getting the crap beaten out of them by the three Big Bro Sligs. My eyes had gone white before... I couldn't remember how many times. But when they did, I felt immensely powerful and fast. White eyes or not, I had to help. Hammer threw Mesh with one hand and Spade with the other. Ruster held Joe above his head, unconscious, before throwing him to the ground, hard. Nail appeared behind me again and picked me up by the neck. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. I looked at my
friends lying on the ground, not moving. I stabbed Nail in the gut with my shredders as hard as I could, hurting him enough to make him let go. I grabbed one of his legs and spun, sending him toppling over. Hammer and Ruster were too shocked. I ran and jumped off Nails body, hitting Ruster's face with a two footed kick, then flipping and slicing off one of his robotic legs, making him lose balance and fall over, then I took the leg and proceeded to beat the shit out of Hammer with it. I was so angry. I was
furious. My blood stained blades reflected my eyes back to me. White eyes. Yes!

Nail was already up again and slammed me with Joe's body. Joe suddenly awoke and fried Nail, then Hammer and Ruster, sending sparks from their legs. Quill laid still. Hammer and Rusters eyes went black. Ruster's legs grew back. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my back, and a sharp pain in my chest. I slumped to the ground, heard nothing, and saw nothing but black...

I woke.

Hammer, Ruster and Nail stood over me.

Joe, Spade and Quill laid in a heap nearby. Hammer picked me up, and punched me in the guts with his metal arm. I started coughing up blood, huge drops splattering on the ground below me. He dropped me and laughed. I got off my feet and stared at him. He went to punch me.

I ducked but was too weak to move, and instead he caught me in the shoulder with a huge right armed chop. I heard a snap and felt my shoulder dislocate. I fell to the ground. He put a huge foot on the shoulder he'd hurt, and pushed hard.

I was in agony. I noticed Joe stirring. He saw what was happening and leapt up and zapped Hammer off me. Ruster rushed in and ripped off my pants, and Nail grabbed Joe's throat and lifted him slowly, savouring every second, and Quill, broken and battered, even weaker than I was, raised slowly, gun pointed at Hammer.

I prayed to Odd Hammer wouldn't see the small bomb. He saw it. I lay on the ground immobile, weakly trying to fight off Hammer as he snapped my arm. He took the broken arm and used my hand to push the button. Quill didn't realise what had happened until it was too late. The explosion engulfed him and he looked at me with sorrow in his eyes and died. My eyes turned white. I could hear my bones snap as my arm healed itself. Then my shoulder. I punched Hammer, sending him flying, and put my pants back on. I grabbed Joe, Mesh and Spade and ran like hell back down the tunnel. Ruster, followed by Hammer and Nail, started chasing us. They were fast. Too fast. We got back into the office we'd found earlier.

I blew the door open. And the Sligs poured in. They'd heard us coming. Hammer, Ruster and Nail had caught up. It was either them or the hundreds of Sligs with guns pointed at us. We could either die, or we could die.

Again, the odds didn't look good.


Chapter 34

Over a hundred Sligs pointed their guns at me. They beckoned us to come out of the office, slowly, with our hands above our head. We were now in a large courtyard outside the office, with a domed roof. But they weren't going to arrest us, they were going to kill us. I looked around for anything that could provide a distraction. Nothing. A Gimmakon loped across the back of the room, and upon hearing it, was shot by a Slig. This is the end, I thought. We're all going to die now, despite all our efforts. A white circle of light suddenly appeared above the Sligs. There was an explosion of green, blue and white light.

It was Quill. His body glowed white. The only details you could make out were his eyes, which glowed blue. He was alive! I saw his pants were missing.

He had long feathery wings, glowing white also. He floated high above the Sligs below, all looking up in shock. He raised a hand into the air. I could see a small sphere in his hand, a blue aura surrounding it. It started to grow bigger and bigger until it was larger than Quill, but still he held it. I saw that between the wings coming from his back were his spines, long and sharp. He threw the sphere to the ground. It exploded into thousands of tiny pieces. The pieces swept across the ground, each piece consuming a Slig. Suddenly, all the Sligs were gone and the pieces came back together to form a sphere. The sphere shrank to its original size. I ran. I ran and ran and ran, hearing Joe's and Spade's heavy footsteps behind me. Mesh scampered alongside me, surprisingly fast for his side. I scooped him up. Hammer, Ruster and Nail had started chasing. I turned around to see Quill land in front of them. The didn't move. Quill was a lot bigger than I remembered him. And now I could see him at ground level I could see his body was completely different. His chest was wide and muscular, and his tail was long and ended like a whip, A small spike on the end. His wings were huge, coming out of his back, below his massively wide shoulders.

He didn't look like he had a mask either. His arms were long and muscular, like a Big Bro Sligs. He held a long, curved blade with his right hand.
He still hovered only half a metre above ground level. He was completely transformed.

"Shred, run." he said gruffly. His voice sounded different too. Deeper.

I didn't argue. I ran. I didn't turn back. Not even when I heard the screams of the three big bros. I was blinded momentarily as the room went white. There was a door to an elevator. I pounded on the button alongside it, the elevator finally opening. We stepped inside, quickly looking out to see what Quill was doing. Hammer, Ruster and Nail floated in the air, unconscious, Quill apparently holding them up. Simultaneously they all flew across the room, slamming into the wall. Suddenly an odd sounding voice coming from the speaker inside the elevator asked for a password.

"Um... ah crap..."

I tried to remember back to anything I heard that might help.

Welcome to Hell

The words of Quill which seemed to have been said to me so long ago came to me.

"Um... Welcome to Hell?"

I heard a beep and the doors closed.

"Password Accepted"
Joe and Spade stared at me incredulously.

"How did you know that?!" asked Joe.

I nodded in the general direction of Quill. I was extremely thirsty, and it was getting more difficult to talk without your throat burning, making you want to throw up. The elevator started to descend... and I could still hear the trio's screams. I smiled.


Chapter 35

I slumped against the cold hard wall of the elevator, half dead, half asleep, and completely screwed. My ammunition was starting to run low. I took the disk out of its compartment, twirled it around a bit in my fingers. What could it do? Why did they want it so badly? I put it back in its small compartment in my pants and watched Spade pace across the floor of the strangely wide elevator.

"What floor are we heading for?" I said, to nobody in particular.

"Uh, ground," said Spade, "I think."

Suddenly the elevator jolted. I bounced and a sharp pain went through my shoulder. I noticed it was no longer dislocated, but still hurt. My body had cuts and bruises all over it. We were going up again.

"The hell?!" cried Joe.

Spade kicked viciously at the panel near the door. Suddenly a voice filled the room.

"Don't try and escape, little Sligs."

It was a Glukkons voice, coming from the speakers in the corners of the roof of the elevator.

"The walls are now electrified. You have killed a lot of our soldiers. Now we will kill you."

"He's bluffing..." I murmured.

"No.. I don't think so," said Spade. He took a knife from his utility belt and struck the wall lightly. Sparks flickered off the wall. The voice laughed.

The elevator stopped. The doors opened. Sligs rushed in, ready to shoot. Spade grabbed two with his muscular arms and threw them at the wall. It sizzled for a moment and they slumped to the floor, smouldering. I stabbed a Slig through the chest, while blasting another. I couldn't see Joe. Sligs came from all directions. For some reason they weren't shooting, instead trying to overpower us with physical fighting. They were trying to capture us, not kill us, I realised.

I looked around wildly, waiting for the next wave of attack. I didn't have to worry.

It came.

Hammer, Ruster and Nail, bound out into the area that had very recently became a battleground. They headed straight for me. Joe flew through the air above me, his foot spikes landing into the chest of Ruster. He twisted, throwing Ruster aside, then scooped me up in his arms and threw me up high.

"Helicopter or whatever mode, quickly!" I yelled to the computer.

Helicopter blades instantly came from the base of my pants, and I was hovering above the Sligs. Hammer transformed to his aerial mode as well, and started flying towards me.

Joe saved my ass again: he leapt into the air, swinging his arms like scissors and cut off three of the five helicopter blades that kept Hammer in the air. Hammer screamed and plummeted to the ground, landing on some Sligs. Spade was at the other side of the room, climbing some stairs. I wondered briefly what this room was for. It was supposed to be a cigar manufacturing plant... but the room was void of equipment. And a floor that high you would think would be full of offices, like the one we found out of the shaft. But this room was wide, no equipment, nothing.

I glided across to where Spade was, dropping a couple of small grenades I found on the Sligs that were chasing Spade. I heard a pop and a beam of light hit Spade's face. Joe came up to where Spade was and climbed out of the shaft he had opened. Spade then went up, and finally, me.

We were on the roof of the complex. Spade took a small silver ball from some compartment from his pants, and dropped it, then shut the hatch.

"Gas bomb," he explained.

We looked out across the jungle, it stretched for several kilometres. So did the vertical drop.

And we had no choice: jump, or die.


Chapter 36

"Well, well, well, look what we have here Hammer," snarled Nail as they busted through the roof, to where Joe, Spade, Mesh and I were trying to figure out how to get off the roof of the complex. It was a long, long way down. We were also very, very low on ammunition, and we had no chance in hell of fighting these guys hand to hand, they had guns, they had knifes, and they were really pissed off. We were screwed. We backed slowly towards the edge of the roof as they walked towards us. Ruster fused shut the gash they'd made in the roof, the Slig army below us trying to bust through. I tried as hard as I could to make some kind of plan to assess the situation. I could fly, Joe could hover, Spade couldn't. We could probably carry Spade, but he would weigh us down too much. I wasn't sure if Nail and Ruster could fly, but I knew Hammer couldn't, as his coptor blades were screwed up completely. Nobody was in their black/white mode. But I sure as hell wished I was. I thought that I could perhaps transform by wanting it to happen, by hoping, by praying. Nothing happened.

Hammer lifted his railgun.

"Now Shred, we can do this the nice, sensible way, or we can do this the messy way. The nice sensible way involves you handing over the goddamned disc which you seem to quite enjoy carrying around. The messy way, to put it lightly, is that we will tear you and your little peace brigade apart, piece by peace, and perhaps roast your little Sloggy, we could start the revolutionary new product of slog kebabs. And, then we'll take the disc. Or not. Maybe, just maybe, by some awesome power source, you'll do your whole dramatic transformation and kick our arses! Yeah!

Ahahahahahahahahahahaha that'll never happen. Do you know why? Because my name is Hammer, and I will always, always get what I want."

He picked me up by the throat, and held me over the edge. It looked very, very high even from the edge of the building, I didn't look down, and probably couldn't anyway had I tried as his large, thick hand was wrapped tightly around my throat, preventing me from looking anywhere but into his eyes.

"I could drop you... but that would be no fun. I could break your neck... but that wouldn't be much fun either. You know, what I would like to do.. is interest you in perhaps joining the great Black Slig Rebellion I got going on here... but no, a goody goody like you wouldn't be interested in going around blowing up the countryside, killing Mudokons, Glukkons, Sligs, who cares? Am I correct?"

I tried to mumble out 'Yes' but his grip was too tight.

I tried to see what Joe and Spade were doing, but I couldn't see past Hammer's massive frame. I tried to swing my arms, to perhaps hurt him with my Shredders, but found I couldn't move, and I was getting sleepy. He was cutting off the circulation to my brain. My eyes slowly closed, and I could do nothing but hear Hammer laughing.

He dropped me back on the ground, coughing, trying to get a breath of air. I felt a small but painful clicking as my shoulder popped back into place. I tried again to move my arm, but was too weak. Joe and Spade were on the ground, not looking good. Hammer stomped on my pants, expecting them to crumple under his weight, but instead a loud clang echoed as he connected with his metal foot. I was somehow energized by this piece of information and lashed out with my foot, connecting into his gut. He keeled over as I swung my left arm as fast and hard as I could at his neck.

He blocked the blow the best he could, using his metal arm, but paid the price, as pieces of metal and other circuitry sparked and came off. He glared at me coldly and was about to blast me and I counterattacked and stabbed through his left eye with my Shredders. He howled in pain as Nail and Ruster who'd been beating on Spade and Joe ran up and took out their knives, Hammer still flailing around, blood spurting from his left eye. I felt awesome power surge through my body as white light shone from my body. I outstretched my bladed arm and felt myself lift from the ground. I had no idea what kind of power this whole transformation brought on, other than it was opening one big can of whoop ass onto whoever was in the way. And that was Nail and Ruster. I spun 360, red slashes appearing across Nail and Ruster's chests.

They ran at me, trying to coathanger me with their trunk-thick arms, I ducked blindly, and ran towards them. Right towards the edge of the building. On the edge of the building was a metre high barrier, and I jumped off it, flipping backwards through the air, while spinning through the air. Suddenly thin beams of light burst from my ribs as I spun, and went through Ruster and Nail like a knife through butter. They collapsed onto the ground screaming, as blood spurted from the wounds. Joe and Spade were back up, and Spade had transformed as well. They were taking turns at beating up Hammer, Ruster and Nail's injuries had started healing already, the wounds beginning to close up. Hammer got up from the ground, and his eye was healed. And their eyes, in unison, turned black...

To Be continued...