or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
Old Rivals, New Allies
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
With his team roster growing ever larger, Anthony felt a new-found confidence. Maybe dad was right, maybe he could cut it as a leader after all. But there were still so many questions he had that went unanswered. How did his father know who to recruit? How did he know when the events would happen? More important at the moment, what was up with Sav? Her behavior had been relatively inert up until Hawaii and the payphone incident. Something was up on his radar, and he was determined to get to the bottom of it. However, Anthony had no idea that the enigma that was Savage Born was about to unravel.
It all started one day after they arrived home from a shopping trip. Anthony and Zatara had bought a few more things for Sav, including some new clothes, some art supplies, and a new bed set. While Anthony and Zatara unloaded the SUV, Sav fetched the mail. “You got mail.” She said, handing a small stack of letters over to Zatara. “Let’s see, bill… bill… credit card offer… Chinese restaurant flyer… junk mail… bill…hey what’s this?” She asked, extracting a letter bearing her high school’s crest, “It’s for me.” Zatara opened the letter and read the message;
‘Dear Miss Alexandra Montengero,
In light of your academic achievement during your attendance of Red Shores Senior High, you and (a) guest(s) of your choice are invited to the alumni association’s classes of ’06- ‘08 multi-year reunion, where you will be inducted into the association’s hall of outstanding achievement, and presented with an award to recognize your achievement of being the youngest graduate of 2006, as well as your recent achievement of becoming the youngest certified surgeon at Robbins Memorial Hospital. Please call the alumni association to RSVP.
Anna and Uni Puma.’
“Oh, how wonderful!” Zatara said, “They’re presenting me with an award for all my hard work!” “Oh? Well, have fun.” Anthony said, Zatara replying with, “Well, you’re coming with me.” “Nope, nuh-uh, not happening.” Anthony replied, “I hated school, mostly because I was the punching bag.” “It sounds boring,” Sav said, “Well, have fun, I’m going to my room.” “Ok, I’m going to stay up and catch up on my paperwork.” Anthony said, heading to the home office.
Anthony worked late into the night again, heading for bed around eleven-thirty. “Please, reconsider going, for me?” Zatara asked. “No, those were the worst nine years of my life before I transferred out.” He replied, “Besides, you’ll be fine.” “Pleeease?” Zatara pleaded. “Look, babe, I’m not going and there’s no way you----oh come on!” Anthony was cut off as she pulled the big kitty eyes. “Damn… my one weakness.” Anthony said, “Fine, I’ll go with you. But, you have to do something for me.” “Well, it is a formal event.” Zatara said, “I could wear that dress. You know the one.” “You mean, the one without--- yeah ok, I’ll go!” Anthony said. “Maybe later this week we could go clubbing?” Zatara asked, “I could try out my new little black party dress.” Geez, babe, enough!” Anthony exclaimed, “You sold me! you tempt me any more, we won’t get anything done!” They climbed into bed, Zatara curling up with her head on his chest, as usual. Anthony sighed, running his hand through her long, red hair. “Eh, maybe it won’t be so bad after all.” He thought to himself, “It would give me a chance to upstage that mutt Jon. Can’t wait to see Felicia’s reaction to what she missed out on.” Anthony rolled over and fell asleep, smiling as he thought about one-upping his old rival.
Around midnight, Anthony awoke, his mouth dry. “Ugh, damnit.” Anthony mumbled to himself, “That pizza we had must’ve dried me out.” He got up and headed downstairs, grabbing some bottled water from the fridge, downing the contents in seconds. With his thirst sated, he returned upstairs, hoping to get at least a few more hours of sleep before work. But, just as he got to the top of the staircase, he heard something. It sounded like voices coming from Sav’s room. His werewolf hearing picked up a distinct man’s voice. “That’s Dr. Johnson!” he thought. Grabbing a pistol from a concealed compartment in the closet, he cautiously approached Sav’s room. With his weapon ready, Anthony opened the door to find…nothing. Sav was sitting on the end of her bed, watching the news. “You still up?” Sav asked, starting at Anthony. “Uh yeah… thought I heard something.” He replied. “Yeah, it’s going to be a nice day tomorrow, a little warm, but nice.” Sav commented. “Is someone else here with you?” Anthony asked, Sav responding with, “No, does my TV count?” Anthony scanned the room, checking for obvious signs of other people. Still sensing something was amiss, Anthony formulated a plan. “Huh, nevermind then.” He said, “Don’t stay up too late, ok Sav?” As he turned to leave, Anthony used his cybernetics to produce a small spy camera from his hand, sticking it to the door frame and angling the lens to the TV. He then left Sav, hoping she wouldn’t notice.
Once back in his room, Anthony activated his Guardian issue smartphone and triggered the spy camera. Once Sav thought she was alone, she flipped the channel back, and confirmed Anthony’s suspicions; there, on the screen, was Dr. Johnson, smiling evilly. A series of images and text messages flashed on the screen, Sav watching intently. Thinking quickly, Anthony plugged his smartphone into its custom dock, and recorded the images. After roughly ten minutes, the word ‘Goodbye’ flashed on the screen in bold letters, then the TV returned to its normal programming before Sav shut it off. Once the TV went off, he triggered the spy camera’s self destruct, causing it to fall into a waste basket and break. He saved the recording to a memory card. “I’ll have to analyze this later.” Anthony thought, “Whatever that was, it can’t be good… not if the doctor’s involved.”
Early the next morning, Anthony got up and headed to the office. The computer log showed that his computer had been illegally accessed, and given the last couple of weeks, he could only assume it was Sav. After re-encrypting and running a full system scan, Anthony plugged the memory card into its slot in the computer’s tower, and began deciphering the footage. It bore a striking resemblance to the type of video intelligence agencies used to brainwash enemy soldiers into sleeper agents. This one was different though, it wasn’t brainwashing Sav, it was giving her instructions. Although Anthony couldn’t figure out what her next mission was, Dr. Johnson made one thing clear: Anthony and Zatara were the enemy. “Shit, this is bad.” He said to himself, “Gotta figure out how to reverse this and---wait hold up.” He played the last thirty seconds back and, of all the people, the late William Stone was on the screen, smiling. Anthony quickly unlocked his safe and grabbed Stone’s notebook. Sure enough, there were a few pages referencing Project: Savage Born. “Damn… just what the hell are you, Sav?” Anthony shut the computer off and joined the girls as Zatara started cooking breakfast. “Hey, good morning, sunshine.” Zatara said, kissing his cheek, “Is everything ok?” Anthony looked at Sav, sighed, and lied to his girlfriend, telling her, “Yeah, everything’s fine.” He knew, sooner or later, Sav’s real purpose would come to life.
The day of the induction ceremony came around, and while Anthony and Zatara were getting ready, Sav had a sudden change of heart, insisting on joining them. Although suspicious, Anthony let her tag along, slipping a GPS tracker into her shoe. They decided to take Zatara’s SUV, as Anthony’s truck was in need of a good cleaning thanks to a recent pursuit. Anthony pulled the Envoy into the only available parking spot. “Whoa, packed house tonight.” He said, “If I hadn’t transferred out, I’d be with the class of oh-seven.” “I’d be oh-eight then.” Zatara said, “I mean, if I hadn’t… well, you know.” As they walked to the front door, Anthony whispered to her, “Hey, did you remember your…you know.” “Yeah, I did, and I have a spare clip too.” Zatara said, “Why, are you expecting trouble?” “Maybe, just something’s got the wolf in me on edge.” He replied. “Stay alert.” They got their name tags from a sign in table and headed for the cafeteria, which served double duty as the school’s auditorium. “Wow, look at this place.” Zatara said, “So many people here.” “Yeah, I know.” Anthony muttered. While Zatara mingled with her old friends, Anthony scanned the room, thinking, “Ok, doc, what’s your plan this time?”
“HEY EVERYONE, REMEMBER US?!”
Anthony turned to the stage just in time to see two familiar faces; the Puma twins, Anna and Uni, now fully-grown women, and somehow hotter than ever. The crowd cheered as they strutted on stage. “I think they do, sis!” Uni said. “Well, we all know why we’re here tonight.” Anna said, “Tonight, we’re here to award our newest alumna with a spot in the hall of outstanding achievement.” “Our newest inductee graduated a full two school years ahead of her class, lived in the Amazon, then came back, and just recently got her certification as a surgeon in multiple fields.” Uni announced, “Now, her appearance has changed since she left, but she still has the sparkling personality we all remember! Here to receive her award from our two thousand seven homecoming king and queen, please welcome Miss Alexandra Montengero!”
Zatara made her way to the stage, where Jon and Felicia were waiting to present her with a plaque and a certificate. “Wow… you look amazing Alex.” Jon said, smirking. “Jon, that’s sweet, but I’m spoken for.” Zatara replied, smiling, “Tony’s been wonderful to me, and we’re kind of a thing so… you might make him jealous.” Tony quietly watched from the crowd as Jon tried to woo his girlfriend. “Wait, wait, wait…Tony, as in little Tony Edwards?” He asked, Zatara nodding in response. “Oh wow, I’m so scared… Please, like he can hurt me!” Jon said, “What can that fucking twig do to me, huh?” The crowd chuckled at Jon as he mocked Anthony. Anthony meanwhile, decided that enough was enough. It was one thing to mock him, that he could take. But to make a pass at his girlfriend?! Now the fur was gonna fly.
“ALRIGHT, THAT’S ENOUGH!!!”
The girls saw a grey blur clash with Jon as he continued to mock his weak opponent. “I’ve had enough of your bullshit!” Anthony growled, his black werewolf lips curled, exposing sharp white teeth. “Normally, I’d drag your flea-bitten ass outside and wring your sorry neck!” Anthony said, “But, tonight’s about her, so I’m feeling merciful. Leave Alexandra alone, because that’s the only warning you’re getting tonight!” “Why wait? Let’s go, outside, right now, pup!” Jon snarled, challenging him, “Unless of course, you’re scared.” “Oh please, I’ve taken shits scarier than you, mutt!” Anthony retorted, “You’re just some dumb jock! Me? I’m smarter, faster, stronger, and deadlier than you can fucking imagine!” The two werewolves butted heads, neither backing down. Just as the first punch was ready to throw, the lights went out. “Uhh, what just happened?” Felicia asked.
A few minutes earlier…
The doctor’s instructions to Sav couldn’t be simpler; go to the reunion, create a distraction, then report back for further instructions. The easiest way to accomplish that? Kill the lights and plunge the reunion into darkness. However, in order to find the main power panel, she needed something to distract people long enough for her to slip away unnoticed. Thankfully for Sav, Anthony’s unresolved anger towards Jon proved to be useful. She heard him speak about Jon, often with great distain, claiming he had stolen his first girlfriend. Naturally, this anger, enhanced further by the werewolf side of Anthony’s brain, would come out if provoked enough. Sav sat back, biding her time. When Anthony finally had enough and rushed the stage, she slipped away, unnoticed.
She headed down the hall, away from the auditorium, past the music room, towards the woodworking shop. Going on pure instinct, Sav found herself down a small hallway in front of the janitor’s office, and across from that, was the boiler room. Busting the lock off of the door, Sav made her way down the stairs, heading towards the electrical panel. Transforming her hands into claws, she removed the access panel with one swipe, and from there, it was a matter of tearing out the breakers and wires. Sparks flew, lights flickered and went out as she destroyed the panel’s wiring. With the panel gutted, Sav turned her attention to the backup generator. Even with the main breaker panel destroyed, Sav wasn’t about to take chances. With a few swipes, the backup generator was disabled, its control panel melting and arcing. Satisfied that she had created a sufficient distraction, she returned to the auditorium.
Sav made her way back, heading up into the rafters. Below her was a scene of chaos and confusion. Battery operated lights illuminated the halls and stage. “Looks like we’re having some technical issues, ladies and gentlemen.” Anna said, “If you could all just make your way to the nearest emergency exit and regroup in the parking lot, we’ll get this sorted out.” “Aww, man… this was supposed to be my night.” Zatara whined. “What else could go wrong?” Anthony asked.
The skylight shattered, raining down glass on the fleeing people. Horrible, winged, vampire- like creatures flew in, grabbing Anna and Uni first. “YOU JUST HAD TO ASK, DIDN’T YOU?!” Zatara shouted, Anthony replying with, “NOT THE TIME, OPEN FIRE!” Anthony went into his coat and Zatara went into her purse, both of then drawing a Glock 26 pistol. They opened fire, killing several of the vampires. As the winged vampires scattered, Jon scanned the crowd. “Felicia?! FELICIA?!” He called out. Felicia screamed as one of the creatures grabbed her, taking off into the night sky. “Where’s Sav?!” Zatara asked, frantic. “Oh shit, those things must’ve got her!!” Anthony said, “I’m calling this in!”
Police, paramedics, and engineers descended on the school within minutes of the call. A headcount confirmed Anthony’s worst fears; at least five animal humanoids and zooanthropes were taken, among the missing were Felicia, Anna and Uni. “God damnit… and things were going so well, too.” Anthony sighed. “What do we do now? And where’s Sav?!” Zatara asked. “Ok, babe, you go home, just in case Sav’s there waiting.” Anthony ordered, “If you have to, go and tend to the wounded at the hospital. I’m going to take Warden and do a couple of laps, see if anything turns up.” “What about Felicia?!” Jon asked, worried. “Jon, I promise, we’ll find Felicia.” Anthony stated, “Then, whatever stupid little problem you have with me? Well, we can settle that later.”
Meanwhile, in an undisclosed location…
Sav walked into the lab, following the vampires that had escaped with their prey. Inside, Dr. Johnson was negotiating with the Romanian vampire lord, Demitri Maximoff. “Ah, you’ve returned, any problems?” Dr. Johnson asked. “No sir.” Sav replied, “There’s a possibility I was spotted following the vampires, and may have been exposed. The big one is soft.” “Good, for now, return to base, and pretend like you got lost in the confusion to avoid suspicion.” Dr. Johnson stated, drawing a vial of blood from Felicia, “Report back on what’s happening.” Sav left, following orders as she did. “Do you really think you can make me immortal, doctor?” Demitri asked, “I put a lot of money and resources into your experiment.” “Oh, I’m positive that you’ll be walking around in broad daylight after the treatment.” Dr. Johnson said, “It’s just a matter of finding the right type of blood, and the right proteins.” After several tests, Felicia, Anna and Uni were selected. Demitri sent out vampires to capture more humanoids like the Puma twins and Felicia, his ultimate goal finally in sight.
Sav returned to the base, staying to the shadows. The staff were on high alert, every available officer and bot leaving on patrol, while engineers left the yard with parts to repair her handiwork and paramedics brought patients to the hospital with various injuries. It seemed like no one had connected the dots, at least not yet, so Sav put on her best wide eyed and confused look, running to the house. “Sav, there you are!” Anthony said, “Are you ok?” “Mhm, why are you concerned?” Sav asked. “Well, you’re my responsibility, and I don’t want anything happening to you.” Anthony replied, “Look Sav, I gotta go on patrol, you get in the house with Zatara and stay safe.” “I don’t understand.” Sav said. “I don’t want you in danger, ok?” Anthony stated, “It’s for your own good.”
“Why do you care?”
The question caught Anthony off guard, but didn’t surprise him, given her upbringing. “Two reasons, really.” Anthony said, “First, I want to do what dad couldn’t, and give you a normal life. Second… I don’t want you in danger. I mean… if anything happened, I don’t know if I could live with myself.” And then, something truly confusing to Sav occurred; Anthony gave her a hug. Sav tried to compute as she headed to the house, but she just couldn’t see the reason why he cared. She decided to keep monitoring the situation at the base.
Anthony returned later that night, unsuccessful in his search for the missing women. He briefed the nightshift, dismissed the swing shift, and headed home, where Jon had settled himself into a guest room. “Tell me you found her.” Jon demanded, worried. “Sorry Jon, we came up empty.” Anthony said. “Oh my god, what if she’s already dead?!” Jon asked, panicked, “What if she’s Demitri’s undead bride? What if she’s being used to breed new, stronger vampires, or being used as food?!” “Jon, calm your ass down!” Anthony ordered, “You’ll just burn yourself out with stress.” “Oh well, excuse me, but Felicia is missing, you’re some kind of… super-cop, and I have no god damn idea what’s going on right now!” Jon fired back, going werewolf, “I mean, who the hell in their right mind would give you a gun?!” Anthony sighed and grabbed Jon’s wrist. “Follow me.” He ordered, “It’s full disclosure time.”
Jon followed Anthony to the base, gasping in awe at the sheer size of the operation. His shock and disbelief only deepened when he saw a statue of none other than Anthony Sr. in the admin building’s main foyer. “Wooooow… this is impressive.” Jon said, Anthony cutting in with, “Yep, and I’m in charge of the whole thing.” “Wait you?!” Jon asked. “Yeah, I’m fleet commander.” Anthony said, “That’s just a fancy title they give to the guy that signs the cheques.” Jon turned to the window in time to see several police cars transform into robots. “Whoa… actual Cybertronians. You’d never know they walked… err, that is, drove among us.” Jon commented. “Yeah, it was pretty mind blowing my first time seeing them.” Anthony said. “To think, I picked on you since grade school.” Jon said, “Now, you’re the big boss… and I’m stuck here, useless.” “So, do something about it.” Anthony replied. Jon thought for the longest time, finally sighing and saying., “Anthony, I want to help find my girlfriend. I don’t want to wait on the sidelines, I… I want to pitch in.”
“You really sure about that?”
“Ok, ignoring the creepy smirk, I am absolutely sure.” Jon stated. Anthony chuckled and said, “Jon, you’re in for a world of hurt.” “I don’t care.” Jon said, “If there’s anything I can do to help save my girlfriend, I will.” “Then here’s what you’ll do.” Anthony said, “You’ll stay the night and get plenty of rest. Breakfast is at seven hundred hours, followed by early morning exercise.” “And then what?” Jon asked. “Then, you’re going to get a crash course on pilot basics.” Anthony said, “In your case, the emphasis is on ‘crash’.” As they headed back to Anthony’s house, all Jon could think was ‘What the hell did I just get myself into?’
End of Old Rivals, New Allies.
or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
Saving Sousuke Sagara
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
In an effort to increase his numbers, Anthony has taken it upon himself to recruit the best and brightest. And the first selections couldn’t be better: Ratchet, his Galactic Ranger friend from Veldin, Stitch, an alien experiment turned Galactic Federation hero, and Sousuke Sagara, an accomplished fighter and mech pilot with the private military firm, Mithril. However, after learning Sousuke is M.I.A., Anthony and the team rush to his last known location to rescue Sousuke and the captured Whispered.
The sun was just peeking over the mountains as the Colossus hovered above the pass. The bots took up positions around the ship, looking for any signs of Sousuke or enemy combatants through high power binoculars, sniper scopes, and multi-spectral long-range optical scanners, while Boomer scanned the airwaves for activity. As the electronics expert was figuring out what was a radio show and what was enemy chatter, his frequency scanner beeped. Boomer looked to the screen, realizing the sensors were fixed on something. “Hey boss, we got something!” He called out, signaling Anthony to come to the comms station. “What is it?” Anthony asked “It’s a distress beacon, encoded, definitely not civilian issue.” Boomer says, “Transponder code says it’s for a combat mech.” “What’s the code?” He asked, worried. “Standby.” Boomer said, punching in a few commands, “Uh… code is two-seven-nine-seven, sir.” I know that code, that’s the Arbalest!” Anthony said. Anthony grabbed a microphone from his command console and turned both the ship’s internal public-address system and the general quarters alarm on. “General Quarters! General Quarters! Set condition one throughout the ship!” Anthony ordered, “Rescue team to drop lines, shields and weapons at the ready!” “What do you want me to do?” Stephen asked, to which Anthony replied with, “Stay here and keep an eye on the radar, anything gets too close? Shoot it down. Ratchet, Stitch, you’re with me!” On that order, Anthony made his way to the forward drop point on the ship.
The Colossus zeroed in on the emergency beacon, eventually hovering over the remnants of what must’ve been an intense battle. The bay doors dropped opened, the lights went green, and the bots rappelled down, swarming the site. Once the all clear was given, Anthony and his team dropped down on the ropes. “If anyone’s alive in there, get them out and on a stretcher now!” he ordered, heading towards the damaged mech. Patch pulled the emergency release, opening the cockpit. “There’s nobody here sir!” He called out, noting a couple of damaged holding straps, “Looks like the S.E.R.E. kit’s gone!” “This looks……familiar.” Sav said. Anthony turned to her and asked, “It does? How?” Before he could get an answer, Wrecker interrupted. “HEY, I’ve got a black box here!” He shouted, waving the team over as he plugged it into a portable diagnostic computer. “Can you get anything from it?” Anthony asked. “Ehh, give me a minute boss.” Wrecker said, his fingers tapping away, “It’s been jostled, scorched, and buried in the sand, but I think… yes! Ok, we have the last few minutes of the fight! Looks like there’s a video, too.” The rugged laptop whirred as a video started playing, Sousuke’s face filling the screen;
“My name is Sergeant Sousuke Sagara of the private military organization, Mithril. If you are watching this, you’ve found what’s left of my arm slave, the Arbalest. Approximately one week ago, individuals bearing Amalgam logos captured several whispered, one of whom was my girlfriend, Kaname Chidori. At the behest of top brass, I pursued them to the Salang Pass, where I engaged several enemy mechs. As of this recording, the Arbalest has sustained far too much damage to continue the fight. I’m left with few options and must continue the pursuit on foot. Once this recording is finished, I will eject the black box and trigger the self destruct mechanism. Know that if you are the enemy, any attempts to decrypt further information without the approved encryption keys will result in this device erasing all data. If you are Mithril, or an allied soldier, please transmit my files to the Tuatha de Dannan, and send reinforcements. In the event I don’t survive… please… do everything you can and rescue Kaname.”
“That’s it, boss.” Wrecker stated, “There’s more data, but most of it’s just alarms, damage reports, and the self destruct.” “Knowing him, he’s likely got a beacon on him right now.” Anthony said. “You know, if he is dead, we have to recover the body.” Sav said, Or, it can be a closed casket thing.” “There won’t be a funeral, because we’re bringing him home, alive.” Anthony stated, using the frequency scanner built into his suit, “Ok I got something. Personal emergency beacon, five clicks north of here.” “Hey Tony, I know a guy who might be able to help out.” Ratchet stated, “He’s sort of a private eye and bounty hunter.” “Well, give them a ring, Ratchet.” Anthony replied, “God knows we need all the hands we can get on this one.”
Not long after Ratchet made the call, a new ship appeared, landing near the salvage site. A male dog and female cat alien disembarked, walking over to the group. “Guys, this is Ruff Trigger and his friend, Cecily.” Ratchet stated, “Ruff, Cecily, meet Stitch and Tony.” “Pleased to meet you.” Anthony said, extending his hand, “You come highly recommended.”
“Oh, I’m sure Ratchet said all kinds of things about us.” Cecily said, chuckling, Ruff chiming in with, “Yeah, I’m sure he gave us a glowing recommendation. So, what’s the story?” “Well, you see that destroyed ally mech? That’s the result of an attempted rescue.” Anthony said, “Our mission now is to find the pilot, save him, and then save the original objective. Maybe you could put that ship and its sensor suite to use, I hear you’re a hell of a pilot.” “Actually, Cecily here is the pilot, I’m more of a ‘boots on the ground, go in guns blazing’ kind of guy.” Ruff said. Anthony wrote down the frequencies for them to scan for. “Be careful up there, babe.” Ruff stated. “Aren’t I always?” Cecily replied, kissing his cheek. “Ok guys, move it out!” Anthony ordered.
With Cecily scanning from the air, the team advanced on foot. After Cecily’s fourth pass, Ruff radioed her. “Hey, you find anything yet?” He asked. “No, not yet.” Cecily replied, “I’ll do one more flyby just in ca— hold on a second.” “What’ve you got?” Anthony asked. “I’ve got movement in the pass, about a hundred yards from your position.” She replied, “Looks like about… ten, maybe twelve guys.” “Ok, well be careful up there!” Anthony ordered, “Don’t need you getting shot down.” “Too late for that!” Cecily exclaimed, bullets pinging off the underside of the ship. “Get out of there, Cecily!” Ruff ordered, “Do you hear me? GET OUT OF THERE!”
Just as the order left Ruff’s mouth, an anti air missile zoomed upwards, zeroing itself on the ship’s engines. The missile hit, scattering fragments of engine to the earth below. “Oh shit! Mayday! Mayday! I’m hit bad!” Cecily called out, “I’m gonna find a flat spot and put it down!” “CECILY! NO!” Ruff shouted. “Ok, team now we have three objectives, back to the Colossus now!” Anthony ordered, returning to the ship, with his ragtag team in tow.
The team returned to the ship, the others unsure of what Anthony’s plan was. “Ok, so, what are we doing now?” Stephen asked. “Stephen, you’re staying on board the ship, as our backup.” Anthony stated, “Ratchet, Stitch, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this... but it’s time for a crash course in Guardian mech piloting. Ruff, since you’re now involved, you might as well tag along.” “Whatever I can do to help.” Ruff said. “Perfect, okay, pay attention.” Anthony said, climbing into Alpha Prime’s cockpit, “Stitch, you’re being paired with Boomer, Ratchet, you’ll have Long Range, and Ruff, you’re with Devastator.” “Why don’t I take Barricade?” Stitch asked. “Because Sousuke is going to need something armored, agile, and fast.” Anthony stated, “Standby for spark link and drop.” “Uhhh…… this won’t hurt, will it?” Ratchet asked.
“No, but it might make your brain a bit tingly.”
And with that, the team was linked to their bots. “Ok, I have to admit… this is pretty damn cool!” Ratchet commented. “Small bot with high agility and lots of firepower… a perfect fit!” Stitch added. “Good to hear, how do you feel Ruff?” Anthony asked. Ruff examined the mech and his body. “Well, I definitely feel a little buzzing in the skull.” He replied, “And I also feel… taller…a lot taller.” “Ehh, the buzzing will pass in a little bit.” Anthony said, “If you start feeling sick, there are motion sickness bags in the pocket on your left.” “Ok guys, we’re over the designated drop zone!” Stephen announced. “Roger that, time to drop!” Anthony ordered. The bots and pilots dropped on guide wires, landing in a small valley within the pass, with Sav in tow, as usual, hoping there were still people to save.
The team headed towards the spot Cecily pointed out, the terrain steadily becoming tougher to maneuver on. “Someone didn’t want to be found.” Sav said, “Maybe he doesn’t want help or… maybe someone got him.” “Maybe.” Anthony commented, letting out a yawn. “That would be kind of fun.” Sav said. “Yeah… let’s just hope he’s--- DUCK!!!” Anthony ordered, shielding Sav. The team took cover as a stray rocket struck the ground, almost hitting them. As explosions went off, Anthony spotted a figure running through the smoke to them, chased by men wearing uniforms similar to those from Sousuke’s video. As the smoke cleared, Anthony could see the figure was wearing a Mithril tactical uniform.
“GUYS, IT’S SOUSUKE! GIVE HIM COVERING FIRE, NOW!”
The team opened fire, destroying enemy mechs while Sousuke boarded Barricade. “What took you so damn long?!” Sousuke asked. “Well, nice to see you, too!” Anthony replied, “We would’ve been here sooner, but we had to salvage the Arbalest!” “Right, sorry about that.” Sousuke said, “So what’s the plan?” “The plan is that we go and rescue Kaname” Anthony said. “Sounds good to me!” Sousuke said, “Barricade, right? Hit the enemy with all you’ve got!” “As you command.” Barricade replied. Panels on Barricade’s shoulders and legs opened, gun assemblies flipped up, revealing dozens of micro missiles. Sav watched as the most of the enemy forces were obliterated in one fell swoop. “I managed to recover a GPS unit from one of their supply trucks.” Sousuke said, “If we could decode it we could---” “Hand it over.” Boomer said. Sousuke turned the small device over to Boomer, and in a matter of minutes, the GPS unit was unlocked. “Sending the co-ordinates now.” Boomer said. “Got ‘em, and hey, we’re not that far to the enemy camp.” Anthony said, “Let’s go!”
They reached the Amalgam camp by nightfall, and upon arrival, it became clear what Amalgam was doing: they were building their own army of advanced mechs, forcing the Whispered to use stolen technology of both the human and alien varieties. “That’s why they needed the Whispered!” Anthony said, “They’re building their own god damn mech army!” “Oh, shit… this is bad.” Sousuke commented, looking through some binoculars, “Hey, over there! They must keep the Whispered in those trailers.” “If that’s the case, our best chance to get in is probably by the back gate.” Stitch added. “… Back gate…” Sav said, staying mostly quiet. “Ok, well, let’s go then.” Ratchet said. “Right, everyone around the back” Anthony ordered, “Sav, you follow us!” “Okay.” Sav replied.
They cut around the back of the camp, happening upon a blind spot in the camp’s security. Anthony disembarked from Alpha Prime, taking to the fence with heavy duty wire cutters. “Sav, keep an eye out for guards.” Anthony ordered, carefully checking for alarm wires. Sav did as she was told until Anthony was finished, then followed them inside. “Okay, I’ll get the locks, you guys keep an eye out.” Anthony said, running up to one of the trailers. After a few failed attempts, Sav had had enough. “You’re slow at lock picking.” She said. “Oh, like you could do any better.” Anthony whispered, “I’m dealing with a tough lock to pick!” “I know I could” Sav replied. After a few more attempts, Anthony removed the picks and let Sav have a turn. Sav walked to the door, unsheathing one of her claws.
In one swipe of her claw, Sav melted a hole through the door, her claw marks still glowing bright red. “Locks are such a pain.” She said, “I never bother with them.” “Ok… that’ll work.” Anthony replied. As they entered the trailer, Ruff spotted Cecily in a holding cell. “Cecily! Oh god, are you ok baby? Did they hurt you?” Ruff asked, smashing the electronic lock off of her cell. “No, I’m fine, but they took a girl into that mobile lab.” Cecily said. “Wait a girl?” Sousuke asked, “Did she have teal hair? A red bow? Brown eyes?” “Yes, yes, and yes!” Cecily replied. “That sounds like her!” Sousuke said, “Tony, sir, I’ll-” “Just go save your girl already!” Anthony said, cutting him off mid sentence. With a nod, Sousuke headed towards the mobile lab. While Sousuke saved his girlfriend, the rest of the team set about freeing the rest of the Whispered.
Sousuke bashed his way in to the mobile lab, surprising two scientists, who were in the midst of running tests on Kaname. Drawing a silenced Glock 17, he squeezed off two rounds, killing both scientists before either of them could raise the alarm. “What are you doing here?!” Kaname asked as Sousuke undid the bindings. “What else? I’m here to save you.” Sousuke replied. “BY YOURSELF?!” Kaname asked, distressed. “No, I have some backup.” Sousuke stated, “We better get moving before we’re discovered.” “Right, let’s go.” She said, grabbing her belongings, “Lead the way.”
Sousuke came out of the trailer just in time to see the rest of the team begin the evacuation. “Ok, we have everyone, let’s get the hell out of Dodge!” Anthony stated. Sav was eyeing the lab while the team loaded the Whispered into a trailer. “Sav, come on, we’re out of here.” Anthony ordered. Sav turned and followed, asking “Is this all right?” “Yeah, we’ve achieved our objectives, we have what we came for, now we just have to get out.” Anthony said. Just as they were making their escape, Sav bumped into a table, sending glass bottles crashing to the ground. “Huh? HEY YOU! STOP!” A guard shouted, noticing the group.
“Shit… and it was all going so well.”
What should’ve been a quiet, stealthy escape turned into a full on running gun battle. The alarm rang out, sending soldiers scrambling to vehicles and mechs. Sav seemed to have the most trouble making even the easiest shots, while the rest of the team was dropping soldiers like bad habits. “THAT’S FAR ENOUGH, GENTLEMEN!” a mysterious voice called out. The team turned to the voice, coming face to face with Leonard Testarossa, an executive with Amalgam, in his private mech. “I believe you have something of mine.” Leonard stated, “Let my beloved Kaname go, and you’ll be granted a swift, merciful death.” “Not a fucking chance!” Sousuke fired back. “Kaname, come on, you’re too beautiful for a soldier like him, do you really want to leave?” Leonard asked, “We could rule the world, you and I! We’ll take over Amalgam from the inside and then spread our influence to the rest of the globe! But why stop there? We could rule the galaxy! How about it? Will you be my lovely queen?” “Well, that’s flattering, and a tempting offer.” Kaname said, “But… you’re batshit crazy, you abducted me, and your scientists were poking and prodding me, so I have to say hell no!” “Pity.” Leonard replied, “Guards, kill them all.”
“Not a chance! COLOSSUS, BRING THE RAIN!”
Amalgam soldiers and scientists alike looked up in time to see the sky filled with fire as hundreds of missiles and artillery shells rained down. The first volley hit the main vehicle area, triggering a massive explosion. The team linked with their bots, and Stitch hooked Boomer to the trailer with a spare fifth wheel dolly that had been lying around. The team floored it out of the based as Stephen fired the second volley, which hit the mech production facility. Bodies and mechs were flung high into the air, torn to shreds. The group stopped a safe distance away to watch the base burn. “Holy shit… we didn’t really just do that, did we?” Stitch asked.” “What, you mean stop a criminal organization from ruling the world by throwing a massive wrench into their master plan? Yeah… I think we did.” Ratchet replied. “Come on guys, let’s go. There’ll be time to talk later.” Anthony ordered. They drove to a relatively flat patch of land, where the Colossus was able to collet them. As they flew away, they reflected on what they had just done, and more importantly, what they were about to do.
The team flew to Cairo, where they met up with Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa, captain of the Mithril ship, the Tuatha de Danaan. “We appreciate what you’ve done to protect the world.” She said, “We’ll take the Whispered back to their respective homes.” “Tessa, your brother… he was the one who kidnapped them.” Sousuke said. “Oh… did he give you much trouble?” Tessa asked, to which Anthony replied, “Eh, just enough that we had to bring the base down around his inflated ego.” Tessa sighed and asked, “Do you know if any of them survived?” Anthony just shook his head, saying, “I highly doubt it, given the amount of ordinance we dropped on them.” “Maybe now my brother will repent for his evil ways.” “Yeah, well, if you ever need someone to jam a few more baddies into the hurt locker, let me know, alright?” Anthony said, shaking her hand, “Take care of yourself, Captain.” “Will do, Commander.” Tessa replied, “And in the meantime, you take care of those two!” Anthony just smiled and nodded, returning with Alpha Prime to the ship.
His new recruits greeted him as he walked up the cargo ramp. “Alright, now before we do anything, let me just say my piece.” He said, “You’ve all gotten a taste of what we do. I realize, yes, it was a bit reckless to take you along, since you’re not official Guardians just yet, and yes, maybe fighting a criminal organization like Amalgam is more than ‘just a taste’ in your books. But just so you know, this isn’t a job for heroes. This isn’t a job if you want fame and glory without all the hard work. This is a job where you risk your life to save the lives of those around you. This is a job for real men and women. This is for those that want to make a difference. Oh, and yes, we do offer great dental and medical. That being said, if any of you want to back out now, and forget this ever happened, there’s the door behind me. I won’t hold it against you, because that shit was crazy. So, how about it boys, what’ll it be?” Anthony waited as each of his recruits talked amongst themselves.
Ratchet was the first to speak. “Quite frankly, Tony? This is exactly what I expected.” Ratchet said, “And I want to make a difference, so I’m in.” “You sure you thought this through?” Anthony asked, “What about the Galactic Rangers?” “Well, Qwark’s in it for the fame, mostly, and the others never gave me a fair shot. I want to be part of a real team.” Ratchet responded. “Yeah, and you know, there’s more to it than just fighting, from what I learned talking to Boomer.” Stitch said, “I want to see just how much more there is, so I’m in.” “Yeah, the whole bounty hunting thing doesn’t pay as well as it used to.” Ruff said, “So my only question is where’s the signup form?” “Well, that’s three of you.” Anthony said, turning to Sousuke, “How about it Sergeant?” Sousuke mulled it over for a while. “It’s ok, Sousuke, really.” Kaname said, resting a hand on his shoulder, “You do what you want, and I’ll support you.”
“Well…I suppose retirement can wait a few years.”
Anthony laughed, replying with “Retirement? You’re too young for retirement!” “Well, I figured I’d leave the military, settle down with Kaname, and maybe go into a safer line of work.” Sousuke said. “Oh? Like what?” Anthony asked, Sousuke quickly replying with, “Well, maybe demolition work, or law enforcement.” Anthony shook his head, laughing. “Oh yeah, because those are the safest lines of work.” He said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. Anthony signalled for the recruits to follow him to the ship’s canteen, where they celebrated with bottles of Coca-Cola. “Sorry, I run a dry ship.” Anthony said, “I promise, we’ll pair the next round with some rum.” “Hey, I never denied a cold drink of anything, especially after an intense mission.” Ratchet said, toasting their victory, “To my new co-workers, and to the future growth of our team!” Anthony returned to the bridge to fly them home, while Alpha Prime took the recruits on a tour of the ship. Once they got home, they celebrated as promised, adding Captain Morgan to their Cokes.
But even in victory, something wasn’t right in Anthony’s world. Sav’s performance during the mission was completely against what the tests predicted. She missed several easy shots, and despite being quiet most of the time, this time, somehow, she managed to hit a desk that four large males in tactical armor had avoided, which sent bottles crashing to the floor. It was almost as if she had wanted to be detected. Part of his brain dismissed this as paranoia, chalking it up to her having nothing more than in-lab training. But part of his brain was suspicious of Sav and her sudden ‘clumsiness’ during the mission. Looking up at the clock, he logged into his computer in the home office, and began typing up new personnel records for his recruits. Sav passed by, waving at him. He waved back, returning his eyes to his work. Eventually, he shut the computer off, and realizing how late it was, he decided to call it a night and head for bed. He should’ve listened to that part of his brain that was suspicious. If he had, he might’ve noticed Sav sneaking into the home office and hacking his computer.
End of Saving Sousuke Sagara.
or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians:
The New Pilots
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
It was all going well as far as Stephen’s training was concerned. Granted, the young werecat had his blooper reel moments, and some less than graceful landings. But Stephen pushed through the pain, and proved himself to be a natural pilot. Still, Anthony knew that two pilots does not constitute an elite team. He needed to recruit more pilots, and bolster his numbers. Then there was the matter of Sav. In spite of having all of Doctor Johnson’s journals, notes and blueprints, Sav was still an enigma. Why was she created? Was it just the doctor, or were more involved? Perhaps the question that dogged him the most was what exactly was Sav made of. What composed her DNA? Her genetic map matched nothing in the extensive Guardian database. Anthony needed answers, and pilots, badly. Fortunately, fate was about to solve at least one of his problems.
It all started one morning when Sav walked into the main administrative building. Kelly was working away at her desk, as always, looking up just in time to see Sav staring at her. “Hello? Can I help you?” She asked, getting silence in response. “Are you Sav by any chance?” Kelly inquired, getting a simple “Yes.” “Oh, Tony’s in his office dear, just head up the stairs and follow the signs.” Kelly said. Before Sav left, Kelly handed her a handful of Starburst candy. “Are these pills?” Sav inquired, puzzled by the colorful wrappers. “What? No, they’re candy.” Kelly stated, smiling a bit. To prove they were harmless, Kelly unwrapped a candy and placed it in her mouth. “See? Delicious… although the lemon flavor’s tart.” She commented, squinting. Sav studied the candy for a minute, then pocketed them and walked to Anthony’s office.
Anthony waved at Sav when she walked through the open door. He was neck deep in files, deciding that relying on his father’s list alone was probably not the wisest decision. He had put out a recruitment notice, and was now swamped with applications, a large pile of folders on his desk. Opposite to the files, bins labelled ‘Accepted’ and ‘Rejected’ were filling up, the reject bin a little faster than accepted. “Hey Sav, what’s up?” He asked. “Candy.” Was all Sav said as she sat down in one of the vacant chairs, plopping a candy on his paperwork. “Ah, got that from Kelly, huh? Yeah, she’s always good for snacks and treats.” He remarked, “Hey look kiddo, I’ll be with you in a few minutes. I’m just reviewing a few potential recruits.” As Anthony worked, Sav looked to the pile, spotting three folders that were out of place. She pulled them without a second thought, causing the pile to collapse. Fortunately, Anthony’s quick reflexes limited the mess that was created. “Here, look at these.” Sav said, turning the files over to Anthony.
“Sav, you can’t just go grabbing things out of piles like that or… or… huh.”
Anthony looked at the files, smiling. “Well, since when did you become a lucky charm?” He asked, sitting down to study the files. “Ok, let’s see who we have here.” Anthony said, opening the first folder, “Ok, first up, Sousuke Sagara. Arm Slave pilot for the Mithril private army. Proficient in close quarters and mech to mech combat, outstanding marksmanship, and extensive special operations training. He’s definitely team material.” Anthony stamped approved on the inside cover, and put the file in the accepted bin. He thumbed through the other two. “Ok, next up, Experiment six two six, aka Stitch. Genetic experiment created by reformed evil scientist, Dr. Jumba Jookiba Currently lives in K’auai with his adopted family. Highly intelligent, speaks one hundred seventy languages, proficient in hand to hand and ranged combat, certified pilot.” He said, turning to the last file. “Finally, we have Ratchet. Hey, I remember him, the space ship mechanic and pilot. He’s in the Galactic Rangers now. Meh… could always use a good mechanic.” Sav left the room, bored, while Anthony called the candidates. As he waited, he checked dad’s list. Sure enough, all three names were there. “Alright dad, I’ll go along for now.” He thought to himself, “You were right about Stephen, let’s see if you’re right about the others.”
After approximately twenty minutes, Anthony set the phone back on its receiver. “Well, we got two out of three, so it’s a start.” He said as he walked out of his office. Sav was there, leaning against the wall. “Two out of three?” She asked. “Yeah, Mr. Sagara is on assignment.” Anthony replied, “Anyway, you up for a trip?” “Where are we going?” Sav inquired, curious. “We’re off to Haiwaii.” Anthony announced, “Specifically, the island of K’auai, hopefully to retrieve our first new pilot.” “Oh, I’ve been there before.” Sav commented. “It’ll be a short trip, since we have other places to be.” Anthony commented, “But still, we’ll make the most of it. You up for it?” Sav thought, and replied with an “Okay.” “Ok, great, let’s get our gear together.” He texted Cliff Jumper to meet them at the space bridge. Once they were ready, and Cojack was put in a carrier, Anthony, Zatara, Cojack, and Sav met with Cliff Jumper at the bridge. “Ok, Sav, this is your first time through a space bridge, so just so you know... it might tingle.” Anthony said. Cliff Jumper drove through the gate, and Sav was left with the very interesting sensation of all of her bones vibrating. As the sensation subsided, it registered in Sav’s head; they weren’t in Bayside anymore. There was a lot of water though. “Water… lots of water.” She commented, Anthony cutting in with “Ok, looks like we go this way.” As they accelerated down the street, Sav looked around, sniffed the air, and said “Smells like dirt.”
The group drove down an unpaved road, searching for Stitch’s address. “So, this… Stitch, lives out here?” Zatara asked. “Apparently, it was the last known address listed on his file.” Anthony replied, “According to the notes on his record, he was adopted by the Pelekai family as a pet when he was younger, then there was some sort of an incident that ultimately led to a radically extensive upgrade. From there, he went from family pet to brother.” “Is it a big family?” Zatara asked, curious. “Sadly, no.” Anthony replied, “Both parents were unfortunately killed in an accident.” “There’s the house, coming up on the right side!” Cliff Jumper called out. Anthony drove up the dirt lane, parking in the driveway. While Zatara went through the notes on Stitch, Anthony and Sav went to the door. “Why do we need pilots?” Sav inquired. “Well… as good as I am, and as good as the bots are, we can’t do it alone.” Anthony replied, “Besides, three people is not an army.” “I don’t know…” Sav commented, “They can be, if they’re good enough.” “Look, Sav, there’s strength in numbers. The more we have on our side, the stronger the team.” Anthony said, knocking on the door, “Besides, we need them because… well it’s complicated, so I’ll explain later.”
“Can I help you?”
Anthony turned to the door, greeted by a young woman with dark hair. “Are you Miss… Nani Pelekai?” He asked. “No, I’m Lilo, my sister’s not here right now.” “Wow, ok already off to a bad start. Must’ve been an old photo.” Anthony commented, “Actually, I just need to know if this is the same Pelekai residence where I’ll find Stitch. I’m looking to speak to him about something important.” Lilo sighed and said, “You’ll probably find him surfing again. Ever since he got that upgrade, he’s been living it up. What’s this about anyway, is he in trouble?” “No, quite the contrary, I’m looking to recruit him.” Anthony said. “Oh, so your boss sent you scouting.” Lilo said smiling. “Here, take my card in case I don’t find him.” Anthony said, handing over his business card, “Tell him to call me if he’s interested in a new career.” After a quick goodbye, Lilo shut the door behind her, looking to the card. Her eyes went wide as she realized that the name on said card matched the one on the man’s uniform. “Oh crap! I hope Stitch has his cellphone on him!” She thought, running to the phone in the kitchen.
The team drove to the beach, taking in the clear blue water and pristine white sand. It didn’t take long to locate Stitch, then again, he was the only blue dog/ koala/ alien on the island. Though his six-foot-tall, slightly muscular frame and the black hair on top of his head were fairly recent additions, an assumed side effect of the upgrade. “Wow, that is an upgrade.” Sav commented, Anthony cutting in with, “Yeah, at least he’s easy to find.” Anthony made his way down the beach, tapping Stitch on the shoulder. “Stitch Pelekai?” He asked. Stitch turned and responded with, “Depends, who’s asking?” “I’m Anthony Edwards Junior, Commander of Guardian Post two twenty-four.” Anthony stated, “We need to talk.” “Ok, but can we get something to drink first? It’s warm out here.” Stitch commented, leading them to a small snack stand that sold shaved ice, frozen treats and freshly made smoothies, among other things. There, an upgraded Angel was waiting for Stitch, with two cones of ice cream, while Anthony ordered himself a milkshake. “Okay, you’re here, so what’d you want to talk to me about?” Stitch asked. “Now, now.” Anthony stated, “We have to wait for our other guest. It’d be rude to start without him.”
They didn’t have to wait long, as a small fighter ship streaked through the sky, touching down in a public parking lot. Ratchet got out of his ship, joined by a brown furred Cazar he introduced as Sasha Phyronix. While the ladies talked about life amongst the stars, the men sat down at an empty table. “Boys, I’m won’t mince words; I’m putting a team of pilots together, and you two came up in my search.” He said bluntly, “Ratchet, you’re one of the best engineers I’ve seen in a long time, and Stitch? Well… you’re a walking computer. Not to mention you’re both fantastic pilots! You two are exactly what the team needs.” Ratchet and Stitch sank back into their chairs. “I dunno, man.” Ratchet started, “I’m still a part of the Galactic Rangers.” Stitch chimed in with, “I kind of took a break from the whole hero thing. I mean, saving the universe? That’s a big deal, and it’s stressful. Hell, it almost killed me the last time, hence the new body.” “Well, think about it, ok?” Anthony said, looking around. Sav, who was behind him moments ago, had wandered off, doing who knows what. “Oh, that’s bad.” Anthony thought, getting out of his chair.
Anthony immediately went searching for Sav, not knowing where she was or what she was doing. He eventually found her in an old phone booth, gutting the payphone. “Sav, what are you doing?! Why are you gutting that phone booth?!” he asked, horrified. Somehow, she had torn off the front of the phone, which was held in place with machine screws. He grabbed her arm, telling her to stop, getting silence in response. “Sav, stop, this is not ok! This is vandalism!” he said. “Who would stop me?” Sav asked, to which he swiftly replied, “I would! This is not good behavior!” “Not like a human could do anything.” Sav said, working her way loose and walking back to the beach. After making sure the area was clear, Anthony extended tools from his forearms and began fixing the phone. But as he pieced it back together, he noticed that she wasn’t just tearing away at it randomly. In fact, it looked like she attempted to rewire it, most of it being done without any tools, as far as he could tell. Why she was rewiring it was still a mystery. All that mattered at the moment was making sure no one noticed. He reattached the front and, after making sure it worked, returned to the beach.
As he got back to the beach, Anthony noticed Ratchet and Stitch were talking with their respective girlfriends about his offer. He also noticed Zatara was on the satellite phone, talking with someone. He waved to her as she hung up. “Babe, what was that about?” he asked, curious. “That was Sousuke’s commanding officer, he’s in trouble.” Zatara stated in a hushed tone. “What? What happened?” He asked, concerned. “His girlfriend, Kaname, she was abducted by several armed men, possibly linked with a terrorist organization known as Amalgam.” Zatara stated, “From what I got, he went after her and… he must’ve stuck his nose in a beehive. He engaged a bunch of them somewhere in the Salang Pass, and went dark shortly after.” “Dark as in maintaining radio silence?” Anthony inquired, getting a no in response. “Dark as in they lost radio contact.” Zatara said, “His emergency beacon activated an hour ago.” “Shit… well, we have to go after him.” Anthony said. “What about our recruits?” Zatara asked. “Recruitment will have to wait for another day.” Anthony said, “Right now, we have an ally in trouble, and a bunch of crazy assholes to dispose of.”
Anthony walked over to the snack stand where his prospects were waiting. “Sorry, guys, something came up and… long story short, I have to go.” Anthony said, “We’ll pick this up another day!” “Well, now, hold on a second Anthony.” Stitch said, “We’ve been talking about your offer.” “Oh? So, what’s your answer?” Anthony asked. “Well, do you mind if we tag along?” Ratchet asked, “You know, kind of a trial run?” Anthony thought it over. Normally, he wasn’t allowed to take civilians along on such a potentially dangerous mission. But they weren’t your average civilians, they were skilled combatants who could, in a pinch, provide valuable assistance in locating and rescuing both Sousuke and Kaname.
“Sure, what the hell, you guys can back me up, get a taste for the job.”
“Sweet! Hey, can I swing by my house and grab some of my gear?” Stitch asked. “Sure, we’re headed back that way anyway.” Anthony said, “The Colossus is landing on the beach near your place. Come on Sav, we gotta go.” “Go? Where?” She asked. “Not sure yet.” Anthony replied, “All I know is it’s somewhere in Afghanistan. We’ll get more details on our way there.”
They headed back to Stitch’s home, The Colossus touching down in the shallow water as they arrived. While Stitch and Angel packed some spare clothes and crucial supplies, Sav looked around.
“Why do you help them?”
Anthony looked at Sav, puzzled. “Why do you bother helping them?” She asked Anthony. “Well, Sav… it’s my job. I’m a Guardian.” Anthony said. “How do you know it’s not just a false sense that you owe them?” She inquired, “Or… maybe… there was a time someone didn’t come and save you?” “Sav, I’m a Guardian.” Anthony said, “It’s my job to help people, it’s in the mission statement.” Sav just sat back in her seat. “I’m not.” She said quietly. “Hmm? What?” Anthony asked, getting a “Nothing…” in response. Still wondering what Sav was trying to do with the payphone, Anthony shifted his focus back to the task at hand; saving Sergeant Sagara.
Stitch and Angel said their teary goodbyes, sharing in one last group hug with their family before boarding the ship. They looked on in awe as the behemoth of a ship began lifting off, hurrying onboard as its outer hatches closed, the doors hissing as they were sealed shut. Once up on the bridge, they were given their new uniforms while Anthony briefed them;
“Okay guys, so here’s the story. About two weeks ago, this woman, Kaname Chidori, was captured by several armed men and put in the back of this van in the photo. Those men then took her to a private airfield, where they left Japan and headed for the Middle East. Unfortunately, the circumstances are similar to other recent abduction cases, all of whom are known ‘Whispered’. Now, these Whispered are people with an advanced, intuitive knowledge in certain fields of so called ‘Black Technology’, technology supposedly far advanced than currently capable. Our ally and next potential recruit, Sergeant Sousuke Sagara of the private military organization Mithril, was on the trail. He managed to track them to the Salang Pass in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, that’s where things went cold. Our mission is simple; rescue Kaname and Sousuke if possible, find out who’s been collecting the Whispered and why, and if necessary, blow shit up. Should be relatively easy for you guys, as you’re already established heroes.”
“Ehh, guess we’ll see, huh boss?” Ratchet asked, chuckling a bit. While the new recruits went to find their cabins, Anthony charted a course to Afghanistan. With Stephen watching the radar and Boomer co-piloting, they set off for the Middle East, hoping there was still someone to save. “Don’t go dying on me yet, Sergeant.” Anthony thought to himself, “I still need to see if you’re Guardian worthy.”
End of The New Pilots.