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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, '10, 3:06 pm
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Part 7: The tower of anger.

The remaining of the troops gathered. Captain's Sardos' voice broke the uneasy silence. "General, we have located the source of the blasts. The enemy forces came from there too. It is a compound three hundred meters deep underground, it is 6 KM south of your current location. Orders?" Freeman answered in a low, pondering voice. "What's the status of the Nova cannons? Can they fire?" Sardos' took a few seconds to answer. "Negative general, not for another hour or so." Another voice jumped in the conversation. "Lieutenant Frings here. General, We would be more than happy to pay them a visit." Freeman smiled. "Yes lieutenant, excellent idea. Make sure we see the fireworks from here." "Yes general! Hope you brought sunglasses!"

The bomber wings, escorted by a few fighters left toward the objective. "Take a few minutes to rest and enjoy the fireworks. We leave towards the northern tower as soon as the aerotanks are unloaded and ready." The officers nodded. Freeman looked south and smiled as the solaris bombers unleashed their deadly armament, turning the underground compound into a mass of smouldering crystal rubble.

About half an hour later, the aerotanks slowed down, having reached their objective: a large tower, about ten stories high. It was made out of crystal, like the deposits seen throughout the planet's surface. The tall crystalline spire remained silent in the middle of a huge desolate plain. The shadows of the three Nova destroyers floating above were all that broke the monotonous boredom of the flat ground.

The hatches opened and soldiers began to disembark from the aerotanks. According to Freeman, they would be relatively safe here. The creatures of darkness should not approach that tower. "Would… should… That's not very reassuring for a group who just lost half their members." Sandy's voice was concerned. Of course, this had not been broadcast; it was for Freeman's ears only. "Fear not. In twenty minutes, our nova cannons will be ready to defend us. Out fighter wings are above us, unscathed, ready to attack. The aerotanks are deployed and we are ready. And most importantly, I'll be done here in a matter of minutes."

Sandy shrugged. "Yeah I guess you're right and… Hey wait! What the hell do you mean -I will be done-? You think I'm going to let you go in there alone?" Freeman smiled. "No, of course not. You will take an elite group and accompany me inside. However, the top floor is where my goal is and only one person can go there." Sandy looked furious. "Let me guess, MORE accurate esper knowledge?" Freeman touched one of her cheeks. "Sandy… do not fear for me. I would walk into fire and madness for Mota, for Dezo, for Algo. But I would come back out alive, for you." He gave her a quick kiss and left her to blush profusely.

"Get ready! Units 1 through 5 are coming with me. Units 6 to 15 remain here, protect the base."

There was no door, only a large archway leading deep inside. Freeman took a deep breath. "Let's go."

Sandy was more concerned than ever. The tower looked empty. They did not meet any opposing forces whatsoever. Adam was walking fast, turning left and right without hesitation, as if he already knew where he was going. She knew that in key moments, he displayed a knowledge that no one could explain. Where the Mother Brain had been, how to use the Aeroprism; but she never expected that knowledge to go all the way to a planet that should not even exist.

They reached a final staircase, leading to the top floor.

Freeman took another deep breath. His voice was resolute. "This is where we part. If in five hours I have not returned, leave this place. Bomb this tower to ashes and return to Mota. Do not try to follow me under any circumstances." Sandy wanted to tackle him to the ground and tell him to stop this foolishness, but it would have been useless. It wasn't her husband talking anymore, it was not even the general she knew so well. It was that other person who had been there, through him, only so very few times in the past, when the situation was extremely critical. It was that person Adam had been before Algo, a stranger to her.

Freeman climbed the stairs and disappeared into darkness.

"You heard his orders. Set up camp and wait."

***

Freeman entered a completely dark room. He waited a few very long minutes but nothing happened. He felt his patience grow unusually thin. "I come for Re-Faze, the destroyer. I am Adam Freeman, I am not a protector but I am willing to do what is necessary to protect Algo from the Dark Force. Show yourself, I am here to seize my destiny."

Freeman's left ear tingled under the noise made by his communicator. He vaguely heard Sandy's panicked voice. "…eneral… …der attack… …Palm ships…"

"What??"

"Hello Adam. How we meet in the strangest of places."

Freeman slowly spun around in total and complete disbelief. His stare crossed the blue steel eyes of his only rival, of the only person who could yet challenge his authority over Algo."

"You!"

The fair haired Cast smiled wickedly. "Who else has the appropriate resources to follow you so far from home, my general?"

Freeman had a hard time swallowing. His pulse quickly accelerated and he felt the first sweat drops on his forehead. All of this was impossible… They couldn't track his concealed ships. But more importantly… the knowledge here, it could not fall into his hands, it would mean the doom of Algo. "How… how did you follow me? I refuse to believe that you broke my stealth."

Nathaniel Seth raised an eyebrow. "What? Oh don't be ridiculous Adam. Why invest time and resources when the oldest tricks in the world will do in a cinch."

As much as he wanted, Freeman could not guess what Seth was referring to. He had a very hard time concentrating, his mind raced at a thousand miles an hour but the conclusions did not come. The confused look on his face proved to be intense satisfaction for his rival.

"I believe your exact words were -Set for 4, 17, 43. Maximum speed. Order the FireStorm and the Hammer to stay with us, 1000 KM behind.- Not to mention the fact that you came back into one of your own ships half dead after visiting the Esper Mansion of all places! You'd think that it would be enough to pique my curiosity!" Seth's voice was intentionally comical, a wry smile on his lips further proved his obvious amusement.

Freeman was completely disgruntled. "A… spy? But…" Seth burst in laughter. "Adam… Adam… Not everyone is as idealistic as you are. Some people love the sound of meseta and the promise of a generous land deed on Palm is enough to sway more than one. Frankly, you'd be surprised to know how many of your entourage don't really care who wins, as long as they get their share out of it."

Freeman felt the pressure of his blood rushing in his temples. It was unreal… His officers were all from the old rebellion, all of them ready to lay down their lives for Algo. For Algo… no matter who wins?

"Curse you… Damn you all!"

"Oh, no need to be uncivil. Now, on more actual matters, I believe you were looking for this?"

Seth moved aside a few feet and let Freeman see for himself. The room slowly illuminated to a creepy dim and Freeman saw something he would not have imagined in his worst nightmares. Seth's two bodyguards, the delicate Myriad and the graceful Lily slowly come out of the shadows, nonchalantly carrying something. The general immediately recognized it. The red pulpous form, the green crystals on what should have been its face. The mutilated corpse of Re-Faze, the destroyer.

Freeman was torn between frustration, agony and pain. The mission was a failure. The knowledge would not be his. Worst, it might be Seth's already. It was over.

"That…. That's not possible… that's Re-Fa… that's a * protector of Algo!"

Seth laughed. "That was a protector. Give me credit, Freeman. I was made by the Motherbrain and I was chosen by the Dark Force to rule. Yet, I escaped both my "parents" and rose to unchallenged power all by myself despite their best efforts, and yours, to stop me. I am beyond a protector of old that used up all his power simply to survive millennia in this barren hell. How Algo is going to prosper now only concerns me. Palm will enter a new golden age, the Cast will rule and you inferior beings and your fear of light and darkness will be left in the past."

Freeman wanted to speak, but his lips only trembled in anger. Myriad approached her master and softly spoke to his ear.

"Ahh, good. Your last cruiser fell. They put a good fight though, it took half of the dozen I brought to finish them, but it doesn't matter. Metal can be replaced. Now, all that's left are your ground troops and we outnumber them a hundred to one. But don't worry, no one knows you're here; you're so secretive after all. When I get back, I'll make up a good story, one where you died a real hero! Hey, let's blame the Atrians for your death! When I tell everyone how they massacred you, I'm sure that all the remaining of your forces will be happy to die for my war in Atria!"

Freeman's sight blurred, he felt tears cloud his vision and vaguely heard Lily's frantic laughter.

"Damn you! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"

Freeman pointed his both hands forward and unleashed the focus of his greatest power, the almighty Grants technique. The bolt of light flashed for a second and wildly illuminated the room. In a glimpse, Freeman caught the sight of dozens of Seth's elite troops, quietly waiting for the order to kill.

Grants' light blasted forward. Myriad calmly stepped forward and activated her shield devices and gallantly blocked Freeman's anger for her master. To Freeman's complete dismay, even after being violently pushed back; she remained quite alive and unharmed. Seth turned around and took her hand to help her up.

"That looked like a good effort. Did I forget to mention that this guy there was quite insightful before I ended his pathetic existence? The things I know now… Oh but it doesn't matter now, you're going to die, Adam Freeman!"
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