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Galactic Crucibles

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Reason: Discomforting scenes about snapped bones

Overview:Edit

This story is about Baelen Azael, and is told from his perspective. The story tells of his fight against the Krytos, and how he became a supersoldier...

Prologue: Awakening...Edit

Two eyes flickered open.

It was time....

Pushing lightly against the other figures by it, the figure examined its surroundings.

A sudden glow pulsed through the room....

and thousands of eyes flickered to life.

It was time.

Chapter 1: Six Years later...Edit

"BAELEN!"

Oh, how vividly I remember that fellow. Back in the good old days. He was a jerk, but you know, it's kind of hard not to miss him now.

I opened my eyes to reveal just how close his face was to mine.

"Ha ha! Got ya there!"

Naturally, I was annoyed, "Gosh, Garad, do you have any idea how much sleep you get after covering someone else's shift? Don't do that again." Okay, so maybe I did cover a friend's guard shift once or twice, but who hasn't?

"Of course, my good sir!" he said in his usual annoyingly flamboyant attitude, "Why I would love to leave you snoring in the corner with a snot bubble as you dream about- OW!"

The last bit was the result of a glorious smack across the noggin from me. In good humor, of course.

Various onlookers chuckled. No one liked Garad much, the poor fellow.


After a few minutes, our dropship landed.

"GO GO GO!"

We jumped out of the ship and ran for the nearest cover, blazing a trail through a flood of Krytos Ground troopers. Not many troopers could do it quite so easily, but hey, genetically modified supersoldiers are supposed to do that! Finally, we made it.

"Garad, your on sniping! Baelen, Jacenn, and Nathar, you guys provide a diversion while Panzor and I go get the hostages! Go!"

And so we did. Diversions are never easy, and I almost got my head shot off by some Ground trooper's lucky shot. Said trooper got a clip full of bullets in the mouth for that. Not they have mouths. But whatever. I hurled a grenade at the Commander, while Jacenn and Nathar took out the turrets. After ducking back into cover, we all agreed to throw our grenades simultaneously from now on to avoid unneeded hazards. Which we did, to deadly effect.

Several waves of enemy reinforcements later....

The coast was clear, and we slowly came out of cover to check the remains. Yet somehow, one Commander still wasn't dead! Being the theatrical fellow it was, it grabbed Jacenn's leg: a useless, stupid, if awesome-looking move. At his request, we watched him wrestle with it for a while before a sniper round suddenly ripped itself through the Commander's head. Annoying beyond words or no, Garad really does his sniping right. Still, Jacenn wanted to take it out on his own. They soon got into a shouting match.

I checked my intercom to see how our group leader was doing.

"Hey commander, how ya doing?"

"Not too good, there's a Monger here, and it's putting up one heck of a fight!"

A Monger. Great. My day was made.

"What road are you on?" he suddenly asked.

"Pan. Avenue. Why?"

"GET OUT OF THERE! The Monger-"

Said Monger suddenly crashed through the building next to us with considerable gusto.

"- is heading your way. Damn. We're coming!"

Now, as you can see, I was in a pretty bad situation there. If you happen to not know what a Monger is, I'll just tell you that it's essentially a large, heavily armored.... thing. I don't honestly know how to describe it. It's weapon of choice tends to be the two large plasma cannons on its shoulders...

Which happened to be aiming at me at the time.

" Oh for- AUGH!" Unable to even complete an exclamation without being interrupted by a blast of plasma, I rolled out of the way. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sniper scope glimmer. With a loud bang, one of the Monger's eyes went out. Dang, Garad, whatever I said before, I'm sorry. Panzor and the commander suddenly came in from the hole in the building and began shooting. After several intense moments involving another sniper shot and a grenade, it finally went down.

"Whew! Now that was fun!" I turned to the general direction of Garad's sniping position and gave him a thumbs-up, which he returned.

"Great. Now each of you go bring one hostage to the drop point. Come on, let's GO! Garad, you too!"

Chapter 2: An Unfortunately Painful EventEdit

We went back through the hole in the building and got to the hostages.

"Come on, your safe now. Let's go." Each of the hostages got up and followed us. We hadn't gone three steps when the sound of a large robot sounded behind us.

Oh great. Another Monger.

"RUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN!!!!!!" I don't honestly know who said it, but we all complied.

It didn't even bother chasing us. It just aimed it's guns on the top of the building with the hole and fired, effectively covering the hole in the building. Luckily, we had all made it through in time.

Except me.

And the Hostage I was supposed to rescue.

"Why does this always happen to me, damn it!" I muttered.

There was a crack in the wreckage, but it was on the top of a large section of building double the height of an average Arythian. Hm...double the height....

As these thoughts raced through my head like marathon runners, the Monger made a disturbing sound between distorted laughter, and a loud, synthetic fart. I think it was going for distorted laughter, though. I mean, you'd hardly expect a robot to have flatulence...right? Whatever, back on topic.

The Monger loomed above me menacingly. In a fit of desperation, I did a surprisingly sacrificing move:

"Get on my back and see if you can climb up the wreckage!" Which the ex-hostage did.

" Come on, take my hand!" He shouted.

"You know, I really don't think that would work-" I was rudely interrupted by more wreckage falling and covering the space between the ex-hostage and me.

"Damn." I slowly turned to face the Monger.


I pulled out my assault rifle and fired to my heart's content while running like mad for cover. The bullets clattered uselessly on the Monger's reinforced armor. It cast a bemused look on me, then smashed a car my way. A normal Arythian would've lacked the reflexes to dodge, and have been killed right then and there, but genetically modified Arythians were made of stronger stuff. So instead of being crushed under the car, I was able to roll out of the way, and escape with only a dislocated foot! Amazing! Hurt like hell, though.

"AAUGH!"

The Monger lumbered toward me as I attempted to crawl away. Picking me up by the legs, he hurled me through the air.

"aaaaaAAAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH!!!!!" I crashed through a window and landed heavily on my back with a loud CRACK.

"Great," I thought, "now my back's broken."

Out loud, I....well I couldn't really talk much. I was sinking quickly into unconsciousness. My legs were paralyzed, my foot was just barely hanging onto my leg, and I was coughing blood. My vision began to darken. So instead, I settled for breathing loudly, waiting for unconsciousness to claim me. But the Monger walked over to me, reached down, and picked me up, holding my by the waist and my right arm. Breathing heavily, I pulled out my last grenade.

"Yeah? You see this?! You le' go o' me now, or you'll find this a very uncomfortable accessory stuck inna your eyes!! HA!" I was rather half-crazed with pain here, so please forgive my slurring words. It's the mandibles, for those who do not know Arythian anatomy.

The Monger's response was much more eloquent. It looked at me with its bemused stare and twisted my arm off. Well, almost. It must have been hanging on by a thread or something, because it didn't come off.

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! DAMN YOU, YOU-" In pain, I threw my grenade straight at the Monger's left eye. As soon as it stuck, the Monger spasmed slightly and threw me to the ground rather roughly, resulting in another snapped bone. Pity, I was right about to say the most colorful swear word my mind could conjure.

Out of the corner of my fading vision, I saw the Monger stumble back slightly before its head exploded spectacularly. I then blacked out somewhat less spectacularly.

Chapter 3: AftershockEdit

A bright flash illuminated the night sky as the missile ripped through the Krytos Search Craft. The Arythian drop ship continued on its way. Suddenly, a dim, small red light showed, as what appeared to be an emergency flare shot up into the sky. After checking the radar for any Search Crafts in the nearby vicinity, the drop ship went to pick up the poor soul who had shot the flare...

...and they found me just in time to see me slip back into unconsciousness.

Recognizing the insignia on the man's badge that marked him as a supersoldier, they carried him onto the drop ship and took off back to base.


So yeah. I didn't end up being left to be nastied by scavengers too lazy to eat anything except for meat killed by something else. Several days later, my wounds were slightly better now, thanks to a platoon of doctors. Well, maybe not a platoon, but you get my meaning. Anyways, when I awoke, they gave me the bad news. I had a broken whatever, a cracked whatever, a splintered whatever...etc, oh and also the entire supersoldier team that you served in died while you were unconscious, as did the group of hostages they were trying to save, but anyways, you've also got a cracked...

hold on, what? Let's rewind a second...

...the entire supersoldier team that you served in died while you were unconscious.....

Wha...wha....what happened?!

They were hit by a Krytos Pod shower on their way back to the drop point.

But....how?! They were the best! They were even given biological upgrades! I mean... I mean....

I'm sorry.

YOU'RE A MEDICAL BOT! WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT SORROW!

Research has revealed the symptoms of sadness and depression. And to be frank, you are exhibiting all of them.

You....

And about your comment on the biological enhancements, they didn't help you much, did they? You also have a cracked....

I slumped down on my cot and began weeping silently.

Chapter 4: Project True LightEdit

Another night of intense treatment later, I was approached by a Clyron Scientist team. Among them, I recognized Saris Gathir, a long time friend and head of the majority of the Clyron's Supersoldier programs including the one that genetically enhanced me and my team (called Project Next Gen, by the way). Guess what he was coming to do with his fellow nerds? Let's see, the supersoldier program I was part of failed, and he's devoted his entire life to creating and improving supersoldier programs.

"Hello Saris, what're you gonna do to me this time, blow me up and turn me into a talking head? "

"Not exactly."

Notice how he avoided a direct "no".

"So, Baelen, Project Next Gen didn't work out too well?"

"Buddy, just look at me. Look at the data pad. What do you think?"

He sighed, "I'm sorry."

No surprises there.

"It's alright. Guess it's the only way I'll get any R&R around here, eh?"

"Yeah..." he seemed distracted.

"So, if not to turn me into a talking head, what did you come here to do?"

"Talking head? No, your punishment must be more severe."

"Watch me tremble in anticipation." I chuckled.

"Ever heard of Project True Light?"

"No, but judging from its 'project' prefix, I'd say it's an attempt to make me into a talking head....wait..... True Light?"

"Yes, we named it after an artifact from your legends of the Zaeis. For it is indeed much like the True Light spoken of in your ancient pamphlets."

I was intrigued. The long extinct Zaeis had always been my favorite topic to read about. In the stories, True Light was a powerful form of light that could be made into tangible, solid objects. It was given to the Zaeis to fight against the evil demon Zanith. If the Clyron were going to recreate it, I would love to be involved.

"I'm intrigued."

"Good. You know of the Krytos Light rifles? Well they launch bullets made of what is essentially True Light. You know about their shields? Same thing. After years of study and collecting these True Light generators, we finally were able to start work on True Light-based weapons. They are still in progress, but recently, we've begun work on a Light Blade and a suit of Light Armor as well." he winked at me.

It' always been a secret dream of mine to be able to actually be the Hero of Light spoken of in the legends. I would play act as him in my youth, as Saris knew all too well.

I couldn't believe it. My dream was going to be finally realized.

"We would like you to be our test subject. We want you to be the first to use the Light Blade and Armor. What do you think?"

What did I think? Man, I didn't really know. Deep within me, I was secretly hoping that my injury would actually allow me to refrain from continuing my service in war. And yet.....

"What do I think? Man, I am thinking that it is absolutely impossible to get proper R&R, nowadays. But..." I took a breath, "I'm in."

The pandemonium of cheers filled the hospital ward.

Chapter 5: TransformationEdit

The cheers died down, and the scientists left me in peace, at the urging of an irritated medical bot (if it's possible for a bot to be irritated at all). All left except for Saris.

"So, you're going to be a supersoldier," he started.

"Buddy, we've had this conversation before."

"No," he was surprisingly solemn, "we haven't. This will be different from Project Next Gen. You were a beacon then, hope. And that failed." I stiffened. "Hope is lost. You will have to regain it through this project. This is going to be huge not just for the Arythians, but for the galaxy. The Hero of Light himself, present on the battle field, pushing the Krytos back! It'll be a huge morale booster. And you know what that means?"

I glanced at him.

"It means this project cannot fail."

"Exactly."

Whoo! One point for me!

"Well then, let's get you suited up," he said.

"Wait, hold on. I'm still a cripple," I pointed out.

"Ah, well we have something that'll help. You know about cybernetics?"

"Oh gosh, not cybernetics." You readers may not know, but Arythian Cybernetics are hell. About 30% of the Arythians that took cybernetics suffered from trauma due to the sudden lack of nerves in the replaced body parts. It's horrible. On top of that, movement is slow and clunky. I spoke my mind about this to Saris.

"Ah, but those are not Clyron cybernetics! These cybernetics hook up to your brain, allowing for operating nerves that can be activated by choice! And movement is as smooth as oil, and allows for more calculated movement! With cybernetics like these, you'll never need to worry about missing, or unsatisfactory limbs again!" And just like that, Saris went from a concerned friend to an excited, walking advertisement. "And if that isn't enough, Clyron Cybernetics also allow you to mentally access other comput-"

"Alright, I get it! Now just wheel me over to the operation room!"

"Um....right. Let's go." Advertiser no longer, he solemnly pushed my wheel chair into the situation room and helped me onto the bed.

"Great. Now, we are going to surgically replace your hand with a stapler!" grinned one of the horribly excited doctors. Saris whispered in his ear for a moment.

"Oh, sorry. Wrong patient. We'll be replacing your arms and legs with cybernetics. Your spinal column has mostly been patched up. We'll help you out with that too. While you're still unconscious, we're also going to get your suit on." Seeing my look of disgust, he hurriedly said, "I mean, we are going to put implants into your body that can create a controlled True Light shield around you." The doctor turned to pick up his data pad, "We've altered the shield a bit to look like an actual suit of armor. He glanced at the data pad. "Ah well, too bad you don't get the head replacement operation. Now that's fun. Get to redesign your entire face."

"Focus, doctor, my life is in your hands."

"Eh...right. I'll shut up now."

"And Saris, who is the guy who wanted a stapler for a hand?"

"Oh, he was just a soldier that lost a hand in battle and decided to become an office worker. For some reason, he demanded a stapler for his hand."

"He's already had the operation done?!"

"Yup. Maybe you'll run into him one day!"

And with that happy thought in mind, they administered some knock-out fluid, and my vision faded.

Chapter 6: What Came AfterEdit

It was night. The soldier tentatively peered out of cover. He took a nervous step out and, hands trembling uncontrollably, shuffled through the dark ruins that was once a proud, hearty city. He stumbled, caught himself, and winced at the resulting noise. He began shuffling at a quicker pace. Suddenly, a humming noise made itself evident to him. He turned violently around. There was nothing. He never saw the charged blast of burning, white-hot blast of light surge towards him.

He heard it though, and closed his eyes, preparing for the imminent scalding sensation. It never came. He opened an eye, looked up, and saw a dark figure swing a brilliantly lit blade in an deadly arc, knocking the diabolical mass of energy just a minute ago racing at him into the offending Krytos Commander. It never stood a chance, and was soon a smoldering mass of smoking metal. The rest of the Krytos Troopers quickly rose out of cover and let loose a barrage of firepower. The mysterious figure, undaunted by the huge wave of fire, twirled its blade about, managing to deflect each blast. A lucky shot smote him in the chest, but didn't appear to do much damage. The figure glanced at the culprit, and pulled out an army-issue assault rifle, riddling the unfortunate droid with bullets.

The soldier was cowering the behind a wrecked car. When he had plucked up the courage to rise out of cover, the figure had already left.

Hey, it was my first time using the suit, I wanted it to be melodramatic! 

After the operation (went fine, thanks for asking), I went to test out the suit on the field, hence my dramatic entry mentioned above. Impressed? I know I was. 

Anyways, the above, italicized words are a description of my first antics as the "Hero of Light" and all that. It was pretty fun, though getting shot was not part of my plan. It didn't hurt, but it was rather rattling. Ah well. Anyways, my cybernetically-enfused brain was able to detect the oncoming blasts fast enough for it to react, prompting me to professionally (and rather cinematically, I might add) twirl my blade about, which was just as promising as Saris had guaranteed. Anyways, I was rather happy with my new abilities. 

Chapter 7: A Decent Scuffle or TwoEdit

We were on that planet (the one where I made my debut as the second Hero of Light) to defend against a Krytos Invasion. The Krytos Pods would land in huge numbers and pepper the land with their unwanted blight. 

We were trailing a particular legion of them, trudging through the uneven mountain pass. There was a small scout party sent ahead by us to act as bait. Once the enemy surged forward to attack, we'd flank them from the sides and behind, and crush them. 

In theory.

Of course, these plans never turn out the way we want them to. 

The scout party was about to make it's appearance, triggering our charge, when suddenly...

"aaaaaAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" a soldier flew right past me. I turned and was met by another unhappy soul being tossed through the air. 

There was a Monger. 

Again.

The rest of the Krytos legion suddenly reversed direction and advanced up the mountainside to get at us, firing blasts of light energy at us. Our men and plan were being decimated. The captain, desperate, ordered us to activate and man the cannons. I made a move to carry out his order, but he gripped my by the shoulder and told me, "Not you. You charge 'em." 

Oh boy, anyone else getting a sense of Deja Vu here? A large murderous group of robots trying to kill me, and an even larger robot trying to do the exact same thing. Last time I did that, I was rendered a cripple. No thanks, captain, I'd rather jump into a pool of acid than get back into that situation.

"Yes sir!" 

I charged forwards, pulled out an assault rifle and began firing indiscriminatley at the mass of metal before me, whinging a grenade or two, smacking a few with the back of my hand, and occasionally pulling out my blade just in time to deflect an oncoming blast of hell. 

"WHOOO! YEAH! COME AT ME, I COULD DO THIS ALL- OUCH!"  I didn't escape unscathed of course. My visor informed me on a regular basis on my armor status, with a scale ranging from "shields full" to "boy are you screwed", complete with an extremely annoying beeping noise to accompany it (only when my shields are down of course, otherwise, I'd be currently gibbering wildly wearing a straitjacket in a padded cell). At that moment, my shields were not so bad, though falling at a rather alarming rate. 

I cut my way into the charging ranks, ending up face-to-face with the Monger itself. I pulled out my sword, muttered a clever one-liner, and... leapt onto the Monger

I was swinging about and hanging on the best I could to the Monger's face as it turned about and tried to shake me off. I gained footing and climbed a little higher, got a steady poise , and stabbed the Monger hard right in the mug (that's the face, by the way). It screamed loudly and shook harder, succeeding at last in throwing me to the ground. 

"Oof!" I landed with a thud. 

The Monger's face was in shambles, and glowing bright orange at the area I stabbed. It roared and readied it's plasma launchers. I rolled out of the way and pulled out my assault rifle. I then proceeded to empty the clip into the Monger's ruined face, denting it even further. It raised an enormous fist, and swiped. I rolled back, just barely dodging. The Monger reached an arm back to swipe again, but suddenly froze. It obviously sensed something, and turned around to meet a glowing mass of magnetically-propelled slag flying towards it head-on! Its thoroughly unlucky head was shattered, and the machine crumpled to the ground. 

Thank God for turret operators. 

After getting behind them, I watched as the turrets shot down a good number of the Krytos. The rest fled, however. 

'Well that didn't go so great, eh?"

"To hell with "didn't go so great", that was a complete and utter failure! How did they see us coming! We all had stealth fields on, didn't we?! We even had bot scouts in the back to make sure we weren't being followed! What the hell-"

"Wait, sir, if we had operating scout bots, why haven't they responded to the attack yet?" Usually, the scout bots would come back to us exactly after the battle had ended to tell us that we were under attack, the soulless cowards. But it wasn't happening now.

"Maybe they're defective?" a trooper suggested.

"I don't know..." Let's check on them. I turned on a comm link to them.

"Hello? Probes, report."

There was no response.

I sighed and manually ordered the probes to return to us. 

They didn't.

I waited a couple of minutes. "What the heck is taking them so-" I halted mid-sentence when I saw the scout bots flying towards us. 

"Oh excellent. No doubt they're gonna freak out and tell us that we're under att-" I halted again. I squinted to make sure I was seeing things right. 

"That's odd, they're coming, but they're entering attack mode...." I looked around to make sure there were no enemies in the vicinity, "What could they be preparing to att-" Again, I stopped. My eyes widened. 

The probes were shooting at us

-More later-

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