Malus: World of War I
Frollo's Entourage, Part I
Stories you might want to be familiar with:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Count of Monte Cristo
Call of Duty
THE PALACE OF JUSTICE, PARIS, FRANCE, 5:43 PM
Al Simmons entered the main hall of the Palace of Justice to see Judge Claude Frollo kneeling before a fire place, above which hung a large cross. Simmons walked up to him, polishing his Desert Eagle handgun and observing his surroundings. He could tell just by the sensation that the room gave him that his client was, to say the least, a highly religious figure.
"I thought I told you to apprehend Facilier, Mr. Simmons," said Frollo, without so much as flinching to give Simmons his attention.
"How'd you know I didn't capture him?" replied Simmons casually, still polishing his pistol, looking toward Frollo as he finished his question.
"If you had, the noise outside my doorstep would grow ever louder."
"The man made a pretty good point. He gave us a target that can get some of the heat off your back. He traded the location of Maxim Horvath for his life."
"Horvath?" said Frollo, suddenly standing up and turning to face Simmons. His tone suddenly became more anxious, but he still bore a relatively pragmatic expression.
"That man has evaded my forces for months to come. How could Facilier have known where he is?"
"It doesn't matter. But I say we move on the guy's castle ASAP."
"Indeed. But could it be a trap?"
"I know a trap when I see one. And if Facilier wanted me dead, he probably would have finished me the minute I walked in. The real question is if we can take him."
"My armies have faced formidable numbers of sorcerers, including the Death Eaters themselves. Where exactly did Facilier claim Horvath resided?"
"Uncharted Britain. I've got a photographic memory, so if you give me a map, I can take some of your guys over to take him down."
"Very well," Frollo said, a pragmatic, calculating look on his face.
"And take Godfrey with you. His aptitude for deception may prove to be an advantage against Horvath. But don't feel afraid to shoot him if you feel suspicious about his motives."
Simmons twirled his gun and put in back into its holder.
ON A PLANE OVER UNCHARTED EUROPE, 5:42 AM
Simmons sat aside from Godfrey on one of Frollo's military command planes, twirling a bayonet in his hand. Godfrey was looking out the window, a thrilled look in his eyes which caught Simmons' attention.
"What is it?" he asked, still twirling his bayonet.
"It's a rarity that I am able to look upon a castle being reduced to ash from this high up. It's a rather exciting prospect," he responded, still looking down.
"It would be a better sight if there weren't people dying inside of it."
Godfrey turned his gaze toward Simmons, a bewildered look in his eyes.
"The world won't miss them. Why should you?"
"I'm guessing you're the kill first, ask questions later type."
"Yet you're the one twirling a bayonet on a plane. I doubt that this is a valid argument you are choosing to make. Besides,"
He then looked down at the green, lush land below him.
"The English deserve their fair trade," he said with bitterness in his tone of voice and in his face.
"You're English, aren't you?"
"When it suits me. And you?" he asked, looking back at Simmons before his last sentence.
"What are you talking about?"
"You're American. Yet you're placing your lot with the French."
"I'm just doing a job. Plus, Frollo's work makes a difference for the whole world, no matter how fucked up the guy may be."
Godfrey looked back out the window, but kept his attention placed toward the conversation as well.
"How skilled are you at your profession? There are those who say that you're immortal."
Simmons chuckled. There could be no recalling of how many of those ridiculous rumors that he'd heard pertaining to himself.
"We'll find out soon enough."
MAXIM HORVATH'S CASTLE, UNCHARTED EUROPE, 2: 21 PM
Maxim Horvath and Drake Stone waited at the former's private landing road. They had been told to expect their new associates to arrive that day. And as the sound of plane turbines slowly emerged to be heard by the two, an exquisite looking jet flew into view. The Xanatos Enterprises logo was written across the right of it. It skidded down onto the landing road, reeling forward a bit before slowly stopping. Maxim Horvath stood patiently for his guests to enter the plane, while Drake Stone paced back and forth, eager to know how close these new accomplices would bring him to the death of Frollo. The side door of the plane came down, and from the stairs descended four very familiar characters: four of the five stars from the popular children's television show, The Pack. Well, it was popular before it was taken off the air due to their reported criminal records. And the fifth of them to emerge was David Xanatos, who wore golden battle armor.
Drake leaned in toward Horvath's ear and whispered,
"So, the rich guy himself has arrived. He's made some generous donations to Frollo. It's perfect that the robot delivered a punching bag for us."
"That is the robot," Horvath replied without taking his eyes off the Pack.
"David Xanatos is a clever operator, far too wise to personally appear before two new allies, and sorcerers at that. If he was cautious, he would have sent a robotic duplicate, and he strikes me as a cautious fellow."
The Pack stopped before the two magicians as Coyote took the lead at the front.
"I was expecting Mrs. Xanatos to be heading this venture," said Horvath in a completely professional tone.
"She and Mr. Xanatos are working on a special project that has been taking up quite a bit of their time," he said in just as professional manner.
Drake merely chuckled when he heard this. Possibly just another excuse for an organic client to cower behind their doors while the real fighting was being taken care of by their subordinates.
Coyote looked toward him,
"Not that special."
Drake merely looked at the five with uncertainty in his eyes. How did he know whether they were spies of Frollo? But as his eyes crossed the woman that he recognized as Hyena, despite her rather significant cybernetic changes that her brother Jackal shared, she winked at him eerily. He merely looked back with a forced look of friendliness, or as much as he could muster from his bitterness.
Horvath stepped to his left a bit and pointed his cane toward the castle.
"Shall we discuss the terms of our arrangement?"
Coyote nodded and walked past him as they proceeded toward the castle. Drake was trying to avert eye contact from the others, still uncertain of them. Suddenly, he felt a pair of arms rap around his neck and a pair of breasts press against his back.
"I'm Hyena," said the woman behind him.
"I recognize you from your TV show," replied Drake, a bit creeped out and aroused by her at the same time.
Hyena walked to his left, keeping her arm wrapped around Drake.
"And I know you from those magician acts, Drake Stone. Want to find some place private and see if your work is as hard as your last name, buddy?"
Drake merely looked away. He could tell where Hyena was going with this, but he tried to keep such a concept, no matter how much he liked it, out of his head.
"I hope so. I'll need it to be if I want Frollo's head stuck on a pike."
Hyena paused for a bit. Clearly this person was far more brooding than the carefree magician that she had seen on TV. But she had no time to push her advance, as some more, uninvited jets began to emerge. The entire party turned to see a large mass of military aircrafts flying through the sky, looming over them like a storm about to begin.
Horvath turned toward Coyote, a calm smile on his face,
"It appears that our first venture has begun early."
Coyote turned calmly toward Horvath,
Coyote then pointed toward the Xanatos Enterprises plane, and it violently combusted into flame.
"Can't have Frollo knowing about Mr. Xanatos' private ordeals, can we?"
Coyote then grabbed his own face, ripping it entirely off with no signs of pain. Beneath it was the same robotic skull that Horvath and Drake recognized from their previous meeting.
Horvath than tossed his cane up so that he could hold it in a combat ready stance.
"Well, they cannot have the information. But I believe they should receive the plane as a generous donation."
Horvath then pointed his cane toward the fiery remains of the plane as the sapphire on the top of it glowed a eye-catching blue. He then spun it around a bit, changing it from just a small radius a small radius of spinning to a large radius. Then he twirled the cane gracefully and pointed it out into the sky as the remains of the plane separated and flew into the air, each going toward a separate plane as if they had a mind of their own. A couple of planes barely dodged, but most of them were either blown to bits by the collision or had a major portion of them torn off, causing them to fall down to the ground.
Horvath turned to the party,
"Now, let's embrace the castle's hospitality. Shall we?"
"We're running?!" shouted Drake.
"I will not have Frollo see me as a coward! We should stand and fight!"
"And we will," said Horvath, the rest of the gang observing their argument with curiosity as to how it would end.
"But we need the proper plan."
"I can fight them!" said Drake.
"You trained me! We can simply lure them to the ground and defeat them!"
"I need your patience, Drake. Or would you rather die and let somebody else kill Frollo?"
Drake was about to retort, but took the idea of somebody else beating him to the punch. He nodded in consent, but only barely managed to bring himself to do it. He failed to notice Hyena behind him smirking, impressed by his bold daring.
Maxim Horvath then rotated his cane slowly through the air, then let it down. Suddenly, much to the shock of everyone besides Horvath and Coyote, they were right inside the castle, in the same room where Coyote and Horvath had first met. The owner of the castle then turned to the rest of the group,
"I'll take care of the air fleet. Coyote, how skilled are you and the Pack against armies?" he said.
The tallest and most muscular of the Pack, who despite a furry, wolf-like mutation that now defined his physical appearance, could be easily recognized off the TV show as Wolf, stepped forward, clenching his left fist in his right hand.
"Get me a couple semi-automatics and grenades. I'll be busting up tanks before they can even say 'surrender'," he grumbled between cracked knuckles and gritted teeth.
"Surrender!" they heard a micro-phoned voice from the air say.
Horvath stepped out to the balcony of the room to communicate with the planes. Drake looked at Wolf,
"You can still have the semi-automatics. But judging by your luck, you'd probably miss," Stone said.
Wolf merely grunted angrily in reply,
"Put your money where your mouth is, pretty boy. Or what's left of it, anyway."
"I'll use it to pay for your hair dye, gray beard," Drake replied as he stepped out to join Horvath on the balcony, seeing the planes looming overhead like vultures. The longer he looked at them, the more his desire for revenge grew.
Horvath held his cane up to his mouth like it was a microphone as his voice was augmented so that it could be heard by Frollo's negotiator,
"What can we expect in exchange?"
IN FROLLO'S COMMAND PLANE
Simmons continued to hold the microphone up to his mouth as Godfrey stood behind him.
"We're warriors, not negotiators," said Godfrey.
"We should commence the raid before they have time to prepare."
"We shouldn't kill if it can be avoided," said Simmons.
"Frollo put me in charge of this. Play by my rules, or don't play at all."
Godfrey merely looked back at Simmons, a begrudging look in his eyes.
"Frollo's generous. He only kills when he has to. You took down a couple of our planes, but we can let that slide with your surrender. You'll be fairly tried and will have a chance for forgiveness. Let's just end this now before there's further bloodshed."
IN THE CASTLE
Drake looked at Horvath,
"He's lying. I've seen the extent of Frollo's so-called forgiveness."
"You think I don't know that?" said Horvath.
"We're about to do it your way. But first we need to find out what they have to offer as an alternative arrangement."
Drake raised his eyebrow,
"Alternative arrangement? I have an idea that may let them know who they're up against."
"And what is that?" asked Horvath.
"Give me the cane real quick."
Horvath looked at his cane for a brief moment, seeming to know what Drake intended to say. But then he cast its voice augmentation spell that he had used earlier and handed it to Drake. He held it to his mouth and two loud, slow words poured from the young sorcerer's voice:
Horvath merely crossed his arms as Drake said that, almost anticipating what he had to say down to the letter. The young man then handed it back to Horvath.
"There's your alternative, Horvath. I'm not running."
"I hope not, for your sake. But you'll stay here and assist the Pack with whatever they need to do and obey Coyote's every order. Do you understand?"
Drake grimaced in annoyance,
BACK IN THE COMMAND PLANE
Simmons put down his microphone and looked back at Godfrey, who had a slightly bewildered look on his face.
"I guess that concludes negotiations," he said.
Simmons shrugged, slightly amused by this counter negotiation. He then turned on a command radio that linked him to the rest of the planes. There were five switches for the aircrafts to be communicated with: fighters, bombers, intoxicators (a new type of fighter that Frollo had devised that would spread substances such as toxic gases down on the enemy), fire fighters, kamikazes, and zeppelins. However, only the former five were contributing to this battle, so he switched on the bombers, the kamikazes, and the fighters.
"Alright. We're going to hit these guys and we're going to hit them hard. Bombers, I want you to stay up high. Save your ammo. Look for key structures of the castle and bring it down. Fighters, I want you to keep a safe distance. But whenever you see a clear shot safe from the bombs, you take a missile to that slab of stone. Kamikazes, do what you do best, but only if I give the order. Simmons out."
He then put down the microphone and continued to looked down on the battleground from the cockpit as the planes assumed combat positions.
Horvath ascended the stairs to the top of the castle. The fighters dove down first, shooting bullets that buzzed through the air like malignant hornets. Horvath, still casually walking out to the top of the castle, held up his staff a bit like it was an umbrella as the bullets bounced away from him and fell harmlessly to the ground. Seeing that their first tactic was ineffective, the fighters pulled up and away from the castle, shooting missiles down at Horvath. Raising his staff calmly again, he focused his magic on the mechanisms of the missiles, causing them to redirect their course and chase after the planes that shot them, for Horvath had cast his spell so that they would retrace themselves back to their sources. The planes pulled every evasive maneuver that they could, but the missiles were already so accurately locked onto them that they followed them wherever they went, eventually speeding up and tearing them to pieces upon collision. Some pilots managed to eject in time, but most of them weren't as quick.
FROLLO'S COMMAND PLANE
"Fighters, pull back," said Simmons into his microphone. Clearly, this wasn't just any sorcerer that they were dealing with here. And he would need the aircrafts to be on their guard.
"Bombers, start unloading."
The bombers dropped their bombs as Horvath calmly looked up, sighing in amusement. When would these Muggles learn? He then turned back to the bullets behind him, raising them off the ground as they followed his cane's movement. He then directed his cane swiftly over his head, the bullets moving in the indicated direction like a cloud over the sorcerer's head. He fired the bullets toward what he recognized as the bombers' fuel supply. Every time a bomb got near, he let the bullets suspend themselves briefly in a telekinetic field, then shot energy bolts toward the bombs, causing them to combust before they could make contact with the castle. He could have performed more powerful magic to ward them off, but he figured that now was a good time for target practice. As the bullets hit the planes' fuel supplies, their oil was lit aflame, causing the planes themselves to go up in flames and eventually explode. Even if the pilots were able to eject though, they left their planes wreathed in flame, which burned through their parachutes as they fell to their deaths below.
Simmons looked down at the air fleet as they fell to the might of this single sorcerer. No wonder this man was so feared where he came from. But he continued to remain level-headed, for soon the ground troops would be arriving. He picked up his microphone again.
"Alright guys. We're moving with a back up plan. Fighters, this is where the camouflage paint I gave you comes in. Eight of you are going to do some fake-outs. Pull back your planes and eject. When you land, make a safe crawl toward the castle while the rest of the fleet gives you cover fire. When you get there, you're going to set down the charges and the radiation mines. Then, get a safe distance away. There's about to be some heat."
Simmons then put down the microphone.
"This is your plan?" said a skeptical Godfrey.
"You utilize guns and radioactivity against magic? Horvath will sense your motives. You should let the kamikazes do their work while the bombers continue their raid."
"No," said Simmons as he turned toward Godfrey, a stern look on his face.
"We're getting as many men as we can back home alive."
Simmons then turned back to the fight, calmness and focus clear in his expression.
ON TOP OF THE CASTLE
Horvath continued his primary mode of attack, but soon there were planes pulling back and exploding on their own, but not before the pilots safely ejected from the vehicles. Clearly the enemy was attempting a more deceptive maneuver. But he had no time to worry about that, for an entire army was on the way, complete with tanks and what must have been hundreds of heavily armed soldiers. Horvath would need to get all of his forces at hand active now. He tossed his cane up a bit and caught it so that he was holding it by the bottom, then tapped it down on the ground, sending a telepathic signal that went down to the fireplace.
IN THE LIVING ROOM
The Pack and Drake sat around waiting for orders. Drake had his right leg crossed over the eloquent chair that he sat in, as Hyena once again peered over his shoulder.
"We can probably kill some time while we wait for action," she said, twirling his hair.
"I'd rather kill the people who are attacking us," he said.
Hyena chuckled, somewhat scarily. She loved this man's bloodlust.
"You're just so full of surprises, hun. Let's say we share a couple kills, maybe."
Drake was about to respond, but his thought was interrupted by another voice.
"Sister, we'd appreciate it if you kept your sexual overtones to yourself," said Jackal.
Hyena straightened herself a bit, annoyance in her eyes,
"Nobody asked for your opinion, Jackal!"
"We're going into combat anytime soon," said Dingo, who was merely looking out the window, a patient, yet also somewhat eager look on his face.
"We start tearin' each other apart now, we'd be wastin' energy," he continued.
"My thoughts exactly, Dingo," said Coyote.
"If we divide amongst ourselves, we'll be playing right into the enemy's hands."
The room then trembled a bit, the entire group jumping at the ready to see what was going on. Though Coyote and Dingo seemed level-headed in this situation, Drake, Jackal, Hyena, and Wolf looked as if their lust for blood outweighed their readiness to fight; though the former of the four seemed a bit more in control.
"They're deploying ground forces. Coyote, how powerful are you?"
said the thoughts of Maxim Horvath.
The entire group relaxed themselves a bit, but Drake still kept his ears pealed, wanting desperately to hear himself involved in the next course of action.
"I'm sure I can take them by myself," responded Coyote casually.
"Good. Then that is what must be done right now. Take the field and eliminate all threats. As for the others, stay here. There are pilots who have ejected and I'm quite certain are heading for the castle. I'll need reliable forces to ward them off."
"I could take care of them," said Coyote.
"No. We need the army disposed of without delay. As for the strike force, there is a resolution for that. Drake, the time for combat that you have yearned for is at hand."
Drake grinned confidently as he heard this wonderful news. Now, Frollo's forces would see what he was capable of.
"But take caution. Fight as part of the team, not as a one-man army. Should you go as far as disobeying my orders, you can wave farewell to your goal of killing Frollo."
Drake listened to this, but he barely paid head to it. He was finally about to fight.
"Remember the security precautions I reviewed with you days ago. And should our fight be lost, unleash the symbiote."
"Got it!" said Drake in enthusiastic excitement.
"I'll continue to hold off the air fleet as you do this. Now go."
The room trembled again, and the entire group could feel Horvath's presence disappear.
Coyote walked toward the window of the balcony, donning his helmet.
"You heard the man. Now if you'll excuse me," he said professionally, looking out at Frollo's approaching army.
He then turned his proud walk into a run as he sped through the open glass doors and dove off the balcony. Falling straight through the air, Coyote then shot down cables after descending a good amount of feet, using them to reel himself in over the moat that surrounded it, rolling upon landing before he stood up.
Simmons had seen this robot enter the field. He picked up his microphone and flipped on the switch to contact the soldiers on the ground.
"Alright. We've got a new unfriendly on the field. Either a robot or a guy in battle armor. Pilots, spread out and avoid direct combat while the army deals with this guy. Focus on getting to the castle and placing the mines. There's going to be some drillers there giving you cover fire. If he does catch you, slip in a grenade. We're going to have a spotter for you guys. Keep your guns loaded, the charges ready, and your radars on. We're going to blow this place from bottom to top."
He then put down the microphone and, straightening himself and taking a brief moment of thought to compose himself, considering the liability of this course of action. Simmons then spoke to the pilot while still keeping his eyes on the castle,
"You can radar them, right?"
The pilot then turned a knob on the plane and on the monitor screen appeared a radar image of the field down below. It showed the eight soldiers who had parachuted down, the dots for whom were shown in green, and their adversary, shown in red.
"Get them to a safe zone at the castle. I don't want that Horvath guy or sparkle-dog striking them out ahead of time."
DOWN IN THE FIELD
The soldiers did as they were ordered and split apart, keeping their handguns held down, hunching their right shoulders slightly, ready to fire under attack. Meanwhile, Coyote readily and efficiently walked through the field, turning his head around from time to time with his gaze peeled for enemies. Both sides walked a good length in the field. While the soldiers kept their eyes completely open, slightly nervous, Coyote had no fear in his objective, completely and coldly focused on his objective just as he had been programmed to be.
"This is BlackPhoenix. Come in Sonihadow."
"Alright. Move northeast to the castle. Keep your ears and eyes open."
A couple of feet behind them, the army entered the field, the ground rumbling with their might. The landed pilots could feel it beneath their feet as they crouched down, moving northeast as a complete unit. Coyote could feel it as well, quickening his walk so that he could reach the enemy before they had the opportunity to lay more fire upon the castle. His quickening speed didn't go unnoticed by the radar.
"Move west. Move west! The enemy's headed your way! Move west now!" said the pilot of the command plane.
The pilots did as they said, remaining low so as to avoid detection. They moved west as they continued to hear Coyote's footsteps, only to hear the robot stop. The pilots themselves stopped as well, nervous anxiety obvious in the fear in their eyes and the sweat on their faces. VB looked back over his right shoulder to see Coyote slowly turn his head their way. The pilot slowly raised his gun, shaking it in his hands. He was a a highly trained pilot, but had very little field experience in terms of combat. He was now in an environment that he wasn't sure that he could survive. Coyote looked over for a couple more seconds, the pilots holding completely still and trying to control their terrified breathing. After a couple more seconds, Coyote turned his head back toward the direction he was walking, turning his walk into a run toward the enemy. The pilots let out a relieved breath, stopping for a moment to re-build their courage. Then, remaining low to the ground and keeping their handguns at the ready, they pressed on back to their previous direction toward the castle.
FURTHER FROM THE CASTLE
The soldiers and tanks that Simmons had brought with him to the castle approached through the field. The footsteps of the soldiers, bearing modern and medieval weapons alike, bore ill will toward the enemies of Frollo. The metal of the tanks crushed the grass in its path as it moved forward with the fury and vengeance of their master. And the weapons snarled and roared toward those who laid eyes upon the armies. And as menacingly as the army's might snarled, the might of Coyote snarled back. The robot charged forward, leaping into the air. Bullets from the soldiers and the tanks deflected off of his armor, as he countered with his own blasts from his wrist gun. Soldiers fell before the well-placed blasts as Coyote dove back into the large grass, the army fanning out through the entire field. Suddenly, Coyote leaped out toward one soldier. He turned immediately to fire, but Coyote sidestepped the bullets and punched his opponent in the face hard enough to kill him. The other man who accompanied him quickly pulled out a grenade, pulling the pin, and readying his arm to throw it into Coyote's face. The duplicate merely released his sound wave gun and fired it toward the soldier, who covered his ears and howled in pain, dropping to the ground as his grenade fell right before him... and exploded while he was still close to it. As Coyote moved away from the soldiers he had just killed, he turned to find twelve more men approaching from the grass, the large gun of a tank peering from the same grass behind them. As Coyote shrugged off the bullets that deflected off his armor, he put his main focus on the tank, lifting his arm as a missile gun emerged from it. He fired the missile straight into the tank's gun nozzle, causing it to violently explode. The soldiers were either mutilated by the flying debris or were left burning carcasses flying away from the explosion as Coyote merely turned and walked away, the powerful explosion not even causing him to flinch.
IN THE CASTLE
The Pack and Drake Stone walked down to the drawbridge of the castle. Drake turned around briefly while still walking, giving a quick snap of his fingers. Suddenly, the iron statues of warriors and animals in the castle came to life, lining up behind their leaders. More and more came filing through different corridors and different stairways.
"I'm starting to like this job," muttered Drake as he watched the soldiers of iron and stone.
Hyena and Jackal were looking behind them at what Drake had just done. They were both impressed by this man. Clearly he was a different person than the man they had seen on the TV show. This only aroused Hyena all the more. They then slowly readjusted their view to await their enemies at the drawbridge.
"You approve of him now?" slyly asked Hyena.
"I get uneasy about anybody, especially magicians, being inside my sister. Now will you stop putting that image in my head?" he replied just as slyly, though with a bit of annoyance in his tone.
The Pack had taken the time to arm themselves. But not just with their new gloves, the technology for which was stored in Hyena and Jackal's cybernetics, that David Xanatos had manufactured with assistance from a man named Hiroshi Sato. But Wolf had a Mossberg 500, Dingo carried a sawed-off shotgun, Hyena was dual-wielding Desert Eagles, and Jackal bore a Jackal machine gun. Drake walked past them, standing at the front of the line.
"Who died and made you in charge?" said Wolf with a grunt.
"Not you, unfortunately," responded Drake, not even turning his head to take his eye of the outside of the castle.
"Remember what Horvath said, kid. You're part of the team, not a one-man army," said Dingo.
"Horvath doesn't know what I'm capable of, now does he?" he responded, still keeping his eyes on the battlefield. His eyes were widening with great anticipation, his fingers twitching about, itching to cast a spell.
"Your funeral, mate," Dingo replied with a shrug, keeping his hands on the shotgun.
The conversation came to a halt as they heard the footsteps and rolling tank wheels of the enemy approach.
"Here I am, Frollo. Come and get me."
Hyena twirled her handguns, Dingo loaded his shotgun, Jackal gritted his teeth, and Wolf raised his machine gun.
"Your aim's not too bad, is it guys?" said Drake as two iron soldiers stepped up to him. One with a shield and a flail stood at his left, another with a sword and mace stood at his right.
"Well, you'd better not hope that I aim for you," said Wolf.
Drake merely sneered at the reply.
Suddenly, the silent approach of the army turned to explosions and flaming pieces of dirt flying through the air, and later, war cries as the soldiers rushed up the hill, into the view of the castle's defenders. Planes were beginning to crash down on them. Clearly Horvath was helping as well.
IN THE COMMAND PLANE
Simmons looked at Horvath continuing to down his planes. He grinned; there was a way he could make this work to his advantage. He picked up the microphone and addressed the fighters both in the air and on the ground.
"Listen. If you find yourself going down, eject and aim your plane toward either the bottom of the castle or the moat. Ground birds, this is your time to shine."
He then hanged up the microphone again. Godfrey walked in.
"We should have hired sorcerers to get close to Horvath, just as I suggested earlier," said Godfrey.
"That move's too risky. If Horvath's as good as they say, he'd get them on his side before we're done with him."
Godfrey simply walked over to see the battle, fascinated by the warfare that he witnessed.
BACK IN THE CASTLE
Horvath looked down as he saw the ground just before the castle explode, soldiers emerging from the large holes with ferocity. The previous army was merely a farce after all. He then looked in the direction of the aforementioned army, seeing numerous tanks explode. Clearly, Coyote was holding the upper hand. There was an obvious decoy at work. And the pilots that had previously ejected might be a part of this plan. So, as he continued to destroy more and more planes with energy bolts, deflected bullets, and plane debris. And as more planes fell, he directed their course of altitude down to the field of grass.
FROLLO'S COMMAND PLANE
"Shit!" exclaimed Simmons as he saw Horvath's course of action, quickly reaching toward his microphone, directing his call toward the dousers.
"He's onto us! He's going to set the field on fire! When it spreads, put it out, you got me?!"
He then hanged up the microphone, continuing to look down on the battlefield. Was this a battle that they could win?
As soldiers maneuvered around the crashed planes and toward the defenders of the castle, Drake held his hands out and pulled them back. The flames left from the plane wreckage came forth, incinerating the men who charged toward the magician. Drake then condensed the flame and held it within his hands. Perhaps there were some ways in which he could apply his old magic tricks to this battle. He then launched it forward in a powerful inferno, which crisped the drawbridge and incinerated more soldiers. The soldiers spread out across the grass, shooting bullets toward Drake as they went. Drake managed to raise a telekinetic field to deflect them, but the intensity of the bullets firing and the ear-wrenching noise began to break his focus, so he pulled back. The warriors of stone and iron then charged forward across the drawbridge, the bullets holding them back a bit, but not stopping them. The soldiers slowly filed around the plane wreckage. Drake moved to incinerate them, but quickly stopped when he realized that he had used up all of the flames. So, he pointed forward, signaling the soldiers to charge. But as they did, the enemies threw out grenades over the drawbridge, and they landed right in front of Drake. As they were about to blow, the young magician suddenly felt a sense of rage and frustration inside him. These cowards dared to stand against him, a single man, with such heavy weaponry and so many numbers?! And then the grenades exploded as the Pack fell back. Hyena looked back at where Drake once stood, an area largely shrouded in smoke, as Jackal said to her,
"You sure do have some luck with guys, sister."
The soldiers began to advance across the drawbridge, but stopped when they heard an amplified war cry more beast than human. And from the smoke leaped Drake Stone, who had his left fist pulled back, his face contorted with rage and malignant fury. Then from his fist, he shot a powerful blast of flame made from the heat of the air he flew through, which hit the area of grass just before the drawbridge. It sent the soldiers already on the drawbridge flying forward toward the inside of the castle, where they were almost immediately slaughtered by the soldiers in front. And the flames themselves spread quickly through the long grass, catching the soldiers inside the flames. Their screams could still be heard as Drake landed, the fire behind him. He then held his hands up, holding the flames behind him back with telekinetic fields until he needed them. More and more soldiers began to charge toward him, readying their guns. So before they could fire their bullets, Drake, with a snarl, released the fields and pushed his hands forward, sending the flames in the same direction toward the holes. However, before he could drive the fire all the way down, a plane flew in close to the ground and spilled water down on the flames, dousing them. Growling in frustration, Drake shot a well-aimed energy bolt toward the plane, sending it down to the ground. Then, telekinetically reaching out toward the flaming aircraft, Drake pulled it back down, sending it flying toward one of the caves. And as it landed, he moved to condense the heat particles so that they would explode violently. However, he suddenly sensed the soundwaves of bullets coming toward him, and crossed his arms, forging a telekinetic field to block them. And yet, as he blocked the bullets, he could see tanks rolling in. Now, Drake became even further enraged at what he saw as more cowardly tactics from Frollo. He held his fists out, clenching them together, and drawing his energy, released a powerful scream of sheer rage combined with magic that sent out a powerful wave of mere force. It also vibrated the telekinetic fields, sending them forward in an incredibly powerful shockwave. Soldiers and tanks alike were sent flying back, and the tunnels that Frollo's soldiers had created with their bombs collapsed, killing hundreds of men who were making their way through.
THE CASTLE ROOF
Maxim Horvath continued to destroy the many planes above him with energy bolts, deflected bullets, telekinetic fields, jamming their flight systems, and multiple other maneuvers. However, Horvath was not left enough room in his attacks to conjure up a storm, a spell that would annihilate them easily, but took too much time to conjure in such little lapses he was given. However, he heard the commotion below at the drawbridge grow ever louder.
Keeping most of his attention diverted to the fleet, whose tactics were growing ever more aggressive, he made his way toward the edge of the castle to see the commotion, holding his cane up like an umbrella to block the enemies' barrages of bullets and missiles and hold them up within telekinetic fields. He looked over to see Drake Stone, out on his own, with only a few iron soldiers near him for support. He was frustrated at first by the young man's disobedience, but his mood changed when he saw what he was doing. There were a wide assortment of enemies ranging from soldiers to tanks, in powerful numbers, and Drake, with movements fueled by rage, knocked them aside with telekinesis and blasted them apart with energy bolts. And as they continued to close in, Drake waved his hands around, conjuring energy from the air between his hands, and then struck the ground beneath him with it, ripping it apart and causing a small earthquake that crushed tanks beneath the earth and sent humans tumbling to doom from either falling between the earth's cracks, or being crushed before their fall could begin by rocks. He himself could have done this easily, but never in a long time had Horvath seen such promise. But there was no time to think of this. The weight of the air fleet's attacks were growing more powerful, they were flying at him from all directions, and he had to continue destroying them until he could find the enemy command plane.
INSIDE THE CASTLE
Though Drake was putting up a spectacular fight holding the soldiers before the drawbridge at bay, even as they continued to charge for what seemed to be infinite amounts of minutes, there were still other tunnels that didn't emerge before him; these tunnels led below the drawbridge, and the soldiers had already made it out. As the debris from the dig landed in the water, the sound of the splash blocked out by the catastrophic noise, the soldiers stood at the edge of their tunnels that ended at open air above the moat. They then each pulled out one of the weapons Simmons had given them: guns with magnetic harpoons attached to them. Using them, the soldiers would attach magnetic charges to the metal lined sides of the bridge. The resulting explosions would provide distractions while the rest of them traveled across the moat to the castle wall with webbing in their gloves, which contained spider genes collected from the remains of Spider Man, who had fallen to the might of the Green Goblin. They would then use the gloves to climb the walls and grapple on to the drawbridge, where they would engage the enemy guarding it. However, this itself was also a mere distraction, for other soldiers using the same gloves would infiltrate the castle through the windows, where they would go to the roof and assassinate Horvath, and if necessary, dispatch more enemies guarding the castle. This was the plan that Simmons had reviewed with them.
A fraction of the soldiers quickly and efficiently began their journey across their moat and up to the drawbridge while another fraction released the harpoons, reeled themselves up to the drawbridge, and planted the charges. The Pack was still standing at the bridge, guns at the ready, not hearing or sensing what was happening beneath them. They were merely watching Drake pulverize the enemies, impatience within them.
"This kid's hogging all the action. I'm thinking about shooting him to get him out of the way," said Wolf as he held up his gun, a malign grin on his face.
"Wolf!" snapped Dingo, keeping his overly vicious cohort in control.
"What would you want to shoot that cutie for, Wolf?" said Hyena, a seduced lull in her voice.
"I'd say this guy's a keeper. Don't you think?"
"You really think that little punk's any use at all?!"
"I've never seen you take down seven tanks on your own," said Jackal, somewhat begrudgingly defending the new eye of his sister's eye.
"Piss off, Jackal," replied Wolf angrily.
"If this kid takes all the action before I can fire a bullet, I'm ripping out his spine with my bare hands when this is over."
Suddenly, Wolf heard somebody above him stumble and make a confused and surprised sound, as if losing their balance, and something heavy fell on to his shoulders. And he felt himself being strangled by a rifle soon after. Reaching over his shoulders to grab his assailant with his right hand, his left hand holding onto his rifle, he grabbed the soldier by the head and threw him off of the drawbridge and into the moat down below. It was a fall surely long enough to kill him. The entire Pack then looked up, seeing soldiers sticking to the walls as if they were Spider Man. They then leaped down as well, firing their guns as they went. The Pack rolled out of the way toward the interior of the castle, firing their guns as they went. Not a single shot missed and all of the soldiers they were aiming for dropped dead or injured instantly. But there were more coming from underneath the drawbridge and they needed to save ammunition, so they retreated indoors as the knights charged out to take care of them. That way, the enemy would either be dead or too tired to fight them inside, especially when they had the element of surprise and could fight hand-to-hand, which they generally preferred to guns.
The knights charged into the open. Most of them charged straight on, engaging the enemy in direct combat, but some of them stayed behind and used crossbows for their method of attack. However, while the knights fought with determination and lack of human fear that would hold them back, they were still pushed back by the more modern fighting style and superior technology harnessed by Frollo's soldiers. They were blown apart with charges, knocked into the moat, or torn apart with their own commandeered weapons.
Inside the castle, the Pack put headphones wired to small microphones on their heads to communicate with each other as they prepared to spread out through the castle. However, they heard the distant sound of shattering windows shortly before twenty-three more of Frollo's marines charged down a large stairway to meet them in battle. The Pack took their positions next to each other, walking forward and trading fire with the enemy without even going for cover. They merely moved about from place to place, their agility and speed giving the soldiers some trouble with their aim. Despite having the higher ground, the marines were pushed back, the expert fire and determination fueled by a love for the game. After a couple more seconds of trading fire in the open, the marines fled up the stairs, but not before one of them tossed down a grenade down the stairs. Steeping forward, Dingo caught the grenade and threw it back like a baseball, the bomb exploding in between all eleven of the remaining soldiers, decimating their ranks and bringing them death within flame and shrapnel. The four then went into a tight closet on the right of where they stood, where they consulted.
"If those guys found us, I'd reckon there's more of 'em around here," whispered Dingo, keeping his voice low in case there were already more of Frollo's men outside the door.
"We should spread out and take them from there. We're going to have to be quiet," he continued.
"We could use the bodies we riddled to call them over," Jackal whispered as a butterfly that had flown in from the window landed on his shoulder. He looked at it, his savage grin still remaining as he held out a welcoming hand toward it as it flew onto his palm.
A subtle burst of electricity then erected from the gauntlet, disintegrating the innocent insect.
"Sounds good with me," said Wolf as he cracked his neck.
Dingo then looked around the room carefully, seeing if there was anything in there that could help their next move. Then he saw a vent just above the shelf where what appeared to be crystal orbs, or Palantir as they were called in Middle Earth, were stored.
"There's how we're going to get around," said Dingo with a wily grin as he pointed up toward the vent.
"Who's up first?"
"Hyena and I won't need that," said Jackal as he wiggled his mechanical fingers around.
"You and Wolf can enjoy the dust," said Hyena as she admired her handguns.
"Fine," said Dingo.
"You two can crawl around like bugs with those freaky robotics there. Wolf and I will handle the vents."
He then looked toward Wolf, who was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed.
"Unless you have another route you wanna take."
Wolf's right ear, which was facing the door twitched. Then he grinned as the rest of the Pack also looked toward the door.
Wolf got off the wall and walked toward the door, cracking his shoulders as his grin grew more feral.
"We've got company."
He then charged forward, breaking through the door. Hyena and Jackal used the superhuman traits given to them by their mechanics to leap up on the ceiling. Dingo leaped up to the shelf, crouching as he did a cartwheel off it and kicked through the vent lid, tearing right through it and sliding into the vent.
"See ya on the other side, mates!" the rest of the Pack and the soldiers heard Dingo say from inside the vent, his confined environment giving a certain echo to his voice.
Outside the closet, Wolf shot a couple of bullets into the first row of soldiers before him as Jackal and Hyena crawled away on the ceiling, clouded in the tall atmosphere's darkness, and then threw his rifle like it was a boomerang toward another soldier, sending him flying toward a torch. As the soldier was impaled onto the torch and screamed as he was lit aflame from the inside, Wolf dodged a bullet from the nearest troop, tearing the rifle from him with one hand and grabbing his face with the other. Holding the rifle by its handle and firing it at the soldiers behind him, only looking briefly to get a good view of where to shoot it, he simultaneously leaped away onto the arches holding the roof of the castle up, hiding in the darkness. All that could be heard was Wolf's mauling, the soldier's screams of anguish, the snapping of bones, and the tearing of flesh as they held their fire for a while to conserve bullets. It echoed from the ceiling, sounding from everywhere. The soldiers felt a sense of fear and guilt; they didn't know what to do to help their friend, and they killed him with every second of indecision. There was the occasional spurt of blood that dripped down onto the ground as they could hear Wolf leap from place to place, until right in front of them dropped the soldier, dead and mutilated. The right of his skull was crushed and torn apart, his body armor was torn open, there was a large hole in his chest, his throat was crushed, with teeth marks piercing the flesh and bone, and his left arm was mostly torn off from the elbow, only hanging on from a small piece of flesh.
As they looked down at their decimated comrade with horror, Wolf, most of his fur bathed in crimson blood, particularly around his hands and mouth, grasped the opportunity to leap down on one of the soldiers, bending his head back until it snapped most of the way off, hanging only by the spine. As the soldiers turned to fire, the cannibalistic mutate charged toward the closest one, stealing his gun with one hand as he nimbly ducked behind him, digging his claws into his neck behind his spinal cord, lifting him up like a backpack as he spun around quickly, using him as a shield, firing his own bullets as he did so. Wolf then did a somersault into the air, throwing the soldier he had by the spine into the rest of them down below, tearing the spine out in the process. As the marines were knocked down by their flung ally, Wolf continued to fire at them from above, striking them down one at a time as they fanned out, desperately firing toward the ceiling as they argued amongst each other, cursing Wolf out and ineffectively goading him into coming out as more and more of them fell to his deadly marksmanship.
THE MIDDLE LEVELS OF THE CASTLE
More of Frollo's soldiers were scouring the middle levels of the castle, looking for anything that might be useful to their master, or profitable for themselves. As they wandered throughout the various rooms of the middle levels, they continued to keep their guns at the ready as they broke through various doors, knocking over shelves and furniture, looking around closely for something that may be hidden. In the room where a flat-screen television, several chairs, and a couch were set, they continued to search. One of them walked over to the sofa and flipped it over to see if there was a trap door that lay beneath it. There was indeed something beneath it, but it wasn't a trap door. On the bottom of the flipped sofa was Hyena, who had her mechanical wrists and ankles bent inhumanly and her fingers dug into the sofa to stay attached to the bottom. As soon as the couch was flipped, she leaped up, pulling her Desert Eagles from her mechanical belt as she did an elaborate flip through the air, firing the guns with such speed and accuracy that they struck every soldier in the room dead with well-placed shots to the forehead.
She then walked toward the exit of the room as she heard footsteps at the right side of the hallway.
"Over there! Fire!" she heard a soldier shout.
Quickly looking to her right, she raised her hands, perfectly aware that these marines would kill her even if she surrendered. Not that it would be within her to surrender, anyway. Her hands then extended from her arms on some kind of cybernetic cords, pulling her up to the ceiling as the soldiers opened fire. She crawled on the ceiling toward them, leaping from place to place and wall to wall as the men continued to fire, heading toward them as she dodged their fire. She was enjoying this little game, so much that she didn't even bother to pull her pistols back out or fire any weapons from her cybernetics. Then as she reached their position, with her enemies backing away as she got close, she kicked off the ceiling and leaped into the fray. Retracting claws from the finger portions of her right gauntlet, she cut the first man's throat with a swift slash, then ducked between the legs of a soldier behind her, spinning around and slashing them both simultaneously. As she rose up behind the man who was now falling over from the injuries, she grabbed him, jumped up, and stabbed her claws into the back of his neck. As another soldier fired a shotgun toward her face, she moved her most recent victim's face in the way to take the shot for her. And as another soldier behind her pulled a handgun, she performed a back-hook kick, sending him spiraling into a nearby wall. There were now three soldiers still standing, not including the one she had just kicked. She did a flip toward them, briefly retracting her claws and pulling out her Desert Eagles to shoot the three of them. And as she reached them, before they could even fall to the ground, and her land on it as well, she kicked them all away swiftly and nimbly. Then, as the soldier she had back-hook kicked earlier charged toward her again with a bayonet at the ready, he made a downward stab toward her. However, Hyena easily grabbed his arm, twirled under it, her bottom half remaining completely still due to her cybernetics, twisted his arm, commandeered the bayonet, and stabbed it into his throat. As the soldier twitched and coughed up substantial amounts of blood, with a look of shock and pain in his face, Hyena held her index finger and her middle finger towards his eyes.
"Good night, soldier boy," said Hyena sadistically as she protracted the two blades in those fingers, piercing through his eyes as he fell to the ground dead. She merely stood over him with a grin on her face, wiggling her fingers a bit to wipe the blood off the blades. She then leaped back up to the ceiling and crawled away, gritting her teeth in a psychotic grin, thinking of the further blood she would soon spill.
Meanwhile, on another stairway in the middle of the castle, Jackal was making his work of the soldiers. For most of them, he had placed the corpses of the soldiers in certain places to lure them over to what they thought was an alive comrade, only to kill them quickly. Some of the corpses he had even taken the time to write messages to them on the castle walls with more of their blood, such as:
"Like the handiwork?"
"Welcome to the party."
"Run or fight. You're still dead men."
Not wishing to use the indignity of guns in close quarters combat, Jackal simply spun around to face a soldier behind him, sidestepping to his right as the latter fired his machine gun, missing and firing at the soldier behind him by accident. Luckily, they defended with police shields that they had on their disposal, only to watch as Jackal stabbed his machine gun into the right of the man's face. He then turned around, protracting a whip stored in his right arm as he swung it with such force that it knocked all of the men back. The closed space of the stairway was perfect against a superior number such as them. He then flipped down toward them, grabbing a shield which he used to stab into the back of one of the recovering soldier's necks. A marine behind him tried to tackle him to the ground, but he sensed his movements supermanly through his cybernetic ears, turning around to stab a protracted blade from his finger into the bottom of the man's head. He then retracted the blade, protracted a gun from his middle finger, and shot him in the exact same area. Bored with the lack of a proper challenge the soldiers gave him, he then released a gun from his left arm, spraying them all with oil as they charged toward him. Then he leaped away, unleashing a brief, yet large charge from his rocket feet as he proceeded to flip off the wall behind him and watch the various soldiers scream and slowly crumble to the ground as the flames consumed them. Jackal then walked up the stairs without even looking back at his enemies, whose terrible screams echoed through the spiral stairway, the flames that enveloped them brightening the corridor.
"Have a nice afterlife, hotshots," he said before chuckling.