The Business of War

Tyrannical Androids

Scenario A
Tech Tyrants (C)
Ascendant Androids (SA)

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Max. Cossack Scrap Value: 8,765
SA Infantry: 1,552
RPD Units: 699
Wily Bots: 827

The Ascendant Androids vs The Technological Tyrants: Nuclear Deterrance

Shikaka Village, South Africa.
December 20th (?), 20XX.
10:00 a.m.

Having teleported right in the middle of the chunk of barren land that the Shikakans used as a town square, had proven to be a mistake. Unused to the sight of robots (or most technologically-advanced devices for that matter), the people immediately started making a racket, some of them actually drawing their wooden weapons, while the women and children hid inside their houses made of adobe and plant remnants.

The TT (sans GoundMan) were surprised, unaware of the people’s hostility towards machines. Ground started speaking their language, trying to appease the crowd. But it wasn’t until the elder came out of his shack that the people backed away and kneeled around the old shaman.

“Elder!” GroundMan too had kneeled. Uncomfortable, the rest of the TT followed suit and reluctantly revered the old shaman.

“Forgive them, Lyonskar…” the elder spoke in English, causing further puzzlement among the TT. “They are not familiar with this form you have decided to take.” He was referring to his GroundMan appearance. “Please stand up, no need for such formalities.”

“Thank you elder.” AstroMan reincorporated, not being quite kneeled due to his lack of legs. “Please tell us, what’s the problem affecting your village?” to Astro, the village looked just fine. At least as normal as a rural village could look. The war had definitely not reached them yet.

“I will be concise.” The elder started. “A few of our women in charge of the harvest were slaughtered yesterday, by a group of killing machines.”

“Elder!” GroundMan interrupted. “This is outrageous! Why would they bother terrorizing a village as humble as this one?”

“They were merely passing by.” The shaman continued. “ They seemed to be headed for Johannesburg, which is about 20 miles away from here. Our fields are away from the village, far enough for them to ignore us as they passed through. Their deeds seem unjustified, they are truly sadistic machines. We are lucky the village is still standing.”

“I’m very sorry to hear this, Elder. My condolences…” AstroMan said. PirateMan noticed that Astro was trembling, something was going on inside him that he didn’t show. “But tell me, is there something else troubling you? We will undoubtedly be heading to Johannesburg to teach those guys a lesson or two.”

“No!” the elder shouted. “Do not fall into the ways of vengeance, it’s a never ending circle of death that will only bring us greater grief.”

“I hear you elder.” Naop shrugged. “But you seem to have something else on your mind.” He didn’t want to admit it in front of his team, but he already knew what the elder was thinking thanks to his telepathy.

“Your friend is quite perceptive, Lyonskar.” The shaman praised. “There is one thing we need of you: please save our children!” This time it was the shaman who had kneeled, pleading for their help.

“Wait, you don’t mean…?” GroundMan was beginning to understand what was going on.

“Yes, Lyon. Kenyetta and Mulalo, they are still in Johannesburg.” The elder confirmed GroundMan’s suspicions.

“Psst…” PirateMan whispered at GroundMan. “Who are they?”

“They are a couple of kids that the village managed to send to college, at Johannesburg.” GroundMan answered out loud for the rest of the team to hear as well. “They are this town’s hope. I’ve known them since they were this tall.” He lowered his palm, about 2 feet above the ground.

“A lot has happened since you last saw them…” the elder explained. “They became people of science. They do work for the university at a very important laboratory. Their work is important not only to us, but to the entire country. Although we produce our own food and even sell part of it, their work is crucial to this village. They sustain us.”

“It is settled then.” AstroMan interrupted. “We will get them out of Johannesburg, if there is nothing we can do to help the city overcome those ‘machines’ you mentioned.” He knew the village knew nothing about the war, and he didn’t want to bring more worries into their lives.

“There is one problem…” the elder warned. “As I told you before, their work is important to the country. The machines are probably after their work. What is it called?” he turned to his aide, a tall young man next to him. The aide whispered something to him. “Oh, yes! Nuclear research!.” The old man repeated the aide’s words.

This shocked the TT for a second, who became contemplative at the situation. It didn’t seem it was going to be as easy as their last mission. “That’s not a problem elder.” Astro finally intervened. “The way I see it, it’ll make it easier for us to try and save the city if we know what their objective is. But if we can’t do it, we’ll just get the kids out of there.”

“But there is one problem Naop…” TenguMan interrupted him. “How do you assume we will get into the city, undetected?”

“What do you me…? Ah…” Astro realized the conundrum. “Elder, is there a reason for them to have walked all the way to Johannesburg instead of just teleporting in?”

“Yes! I almost forgot.” The shaman replied, causing AstroMan to audibly slap his own forehead in disapproval. The old coot didn’t seem as serious to him anymore. “The South African government had prohibited your ‘teleportation’ travel anywhere near Johannesburg, for security reasons.”

“Go figure…” AstroMan sighed. “Any suggestions, guys?”

The aide was whispering something to the elder, who just nodded, approving for him to speak up. “I would like to do a suggestion.” The young man spoke. Astro thought it was weird to hear yet another guy speak in fluid English. “We periodically send trucks with vegetables and animal goods to Johannesburg, to get extra profit.”

“I see where you’re going, baldie…” Astro said, making fun of the guy’s lack of hair (in fact, all men in town had their head shaved). “We hide among the vegetables, until we reach our destination, and no one will be the wiser.”

“Sound like a plan to me.” TenguMan said, satisfied by his leader’s ability to state the obvious.

“There’s a market in the Braamfontain district, near the University of the Witwatersrand. We could start from there.” GroundMan suggested.

“I don’t understand a word you just said, Lyon, but let’s go!” Astro was eager to get going. Perhaps too eager, to his teammates’ opinion.

“Please, follow me.” The bald aide guided them to the delivery truck, which had already been prepared.


An entire building shook to its core as a large chunk of it was torn from its side with ease.

It seemed to tear itself away all by itself, seemingly trying to escape its role as a part of something larger. This, obviously, wasn’t the case.

Stoneman had become fixated by a gargoyle statue built into a relief in this particular chunk of rock. With little more than telepathic commanding, Stoneman stripped away the less interesting parts until he was left with what he wanted.

It floated to him slowly, and he reached out to touch its face, then touched his current “face”. Removing his old one, Stoneman exposed his true form- that of a collection of metallic orbs, usually hidden behind mounds of hardened rock. His head was made of a single orb, about a foot in diameter, with two eyeballs attached to it, shrouded in black lids. This was all that made up his real “face”, so he often used statues to further build upon it.

His old mask was from some sort of human statue he came across in Monsteropolis’s financial district a few weeks ago, and it was in bad shape- gunshots, slashes, blood stains…all of these ruined what was once a perfectly good face.

Stoneman let out something that might be a grunt as he tossed away the five hundred pound chunk of old statue, and he continued to use his power to hollow out his latest find until it was something suitable. Cutting out the gargoyle’s eyes, he slipped it on like an old Halloween costume, his inherent power fixing it to the rest of his rocky body.

He turned around and looked across the street to an intact store window, which bore his reflection now. Moving his head a few times, as if checking on how it looked at different angles, he seemed to approve.

Somehow, he felt a second opinion was needed.

As he was pulling down the building, human beings streamed out of it as he completely ignored them. Now, they served a purpose to him.

He set his sights on one of the fleeing men at random, and fetched him using his telepathic “Power Stone” ability- the power to control rock formations within his immediate range using his mind. The man’s knees buckled as a slab of street he was running on suddenly shot upward by ten feet, and floated towards the 12 foot tall human-shape behind him.

The man was overcome with fear as the giant rock monster pointed to his face for approval. All Stoneman received was shrieks of horror.

Disappointed, Stoneman decided to let his new “friend” know of his failure.

“Then what good are you?”, he asked in a monotone voice that sounded as though it emanated from a cement mixer.

He didn’t await the man’s answer, and picked him up with a massive hand, hurtling him into the closest wall at full force. What was once a man was now a smear of flesh and cloth.

He chuckled to himself as another creature like him arrived behind him.

“Yo! Blockhead!”, the smaller female called out to him as her small platoon of crystals floated about her. “What the hell are you doing?”

Stoneman placed a hand on his new chin and posed grandly for his closest ally.

“Yeah…Looks great.”, she huffed. “But we’re not here for a fashion show, brick head. C’mon, we better meet back up with Napalm and the others before the jerk blows his top again.”

Stoneman hung his shoulders as he followed CrystalGirl across town for a few blocks. Usually, she was the first to hand out praise for his newly acquired sculptures, but since the Berlin fiasco, she was definitely crankier.

Actually, the entire team was. Captain Napalmman made sure they’d be just as miserable as he was. Maybe even more so. This was the reason Stoneman let out a bit of a sigh as the two approached the tank of death and the other Androids in the city’s center.

“Nice of you to join us.”, Napalmman snorted, steam escaping his face port. “Stone, you ever duck me like that again and I’ll turn you into Elysium’s first street curb, got it?

Alright ladies…and even lower,” he chided CrystalGirl as she flicked him off, “seems the General wants us to do another capture mission.”

“Again?”, Gyroman complained as he hovered over the ground. Fact is, he rarely let his feet touch the Earth. He was much too good for it, he felt. “Those missions suck.”

“Not up to me.”, Napalm countered. “Stop your gripin’, losers. Here’s what’s going down: We head to the city’s nuclear research facility, Gauteng, or some such shit. We clear out the guards, BUT…We keep the scientists ALIVE.”

The rest of the team groaned angrily.

“Alive?”, Gravityman sneered. “How…alive do you want them?”

“Alive enough to keep makin’ what we’re here for- plutonium. Seems our commander in chief needs a bunch of it for some sort of project.”, Napalmman answered.

“What the hell does he need plutonium for?”, Waveman asked without his usual cackling. “He told us he wouldn’t be using WMDs cause that’s no fun.”

“It ain’t for a bomb.”, Napalmman put Wave’s concerns to rest. “Its for another CO he’s buildin’. Ah damn it, we ain’t got time for a damned Q ‘n’ A session here, you worthless belly crawlers!

We get in there, we clear the place out, we keep the white coats alive, and we take whatever reserves they got. Its simple as shit. Screw this one up, and none of us have any business bein’ in my beloved SA.”

“Bor-ring!”, Crystal commented.

“Yeah, I hear that.”, Gyroman agreed. “Guess we oughta get this over with quickly as possible so we can move onto the fun stuff.”

“Enough chit chat, bitches!”, Napalmman yelled. “Let’s get a move on!”


South Africa, Johannesburg’s outskirts.
11:40 a.m.

Hidden inside a couple of giant crates filled with potatoes and onions, the Tech Tyrants began to resent the bumps along the road, but there was little they could do about it. They had already spent about an hour travelling, and surrounded by vegetables, they could barely communicate with each other.

“What if the city has already been invaded?” PirateMan asked.

“Well Aku, let’s just hope it hasn’t.” AstroMan replied.

“He makes a good point, Naop.” Tengu reckoned.

“Well, if there is trouble, we’ll have no choice but to intervene.”

“We can’t blow our cover until we get there!” GroundMan interjected, who was perhaps even more eager than Astro to get on with the mission. It was his people who were in trouble, after all.

“I know, but what if we can’t get there?” Astro replied. As if on cue, the truck suddenly began to shake more violently, and increased its speed at the same time. “Goddamnit baldie, if you blow this I’ll…” but just then, the truck regained its composure and previous speed.

“I’m sorry! The road was in bad shape!” the team heard their driver shout from the front of the truck.

After what seemed to be an eternity, the truck finally came to a halt. The elder’s aide opened up the truck and knocked on the crates. “Mr. Lyonskar, we have arrived.”

After getting out and stretching, Astro questioned their driver about the seemingly uneventful trip they had. “What’s the situation, baldie? How come no one got in our way?”

“Well, the city is more or less deserted.” The man answered, already accustomed to the nickname that Astro had chosen for him. The Tyrants frowned in unison. “Yes, not even the armed forces were guarding the city’s borders.”

“You think they took over?” Astro questioned GroundMan, referring to the Scissor Army.

“I doubt it.” Ground said bluntly.

“What was that about, a few minutes ago?” Tengu asked this time.

“The road into the city was badly damaged. There were signs of a battle at the city’s border, although no one was there anymore.” The bald driver responded. “I drove though it as fast as I could, just in case.”

“Well, this makes no sense at all!” Astro was clueless.

The team just stood there, at the market’s cargo bay, trying to think of an explanation. Fortunately for them, their com-link beeped. Astro answered the call. “Yes doctor?”

“Naop! Thank god! You were out of reach for an eternity!” the Russian scientist was obviously desperate.

“We had to get to Johannesburg by conventional means, doc.” The TT leader explained.

“What?! You’re already in Johannesburg?!” Dr. Cossack was even more exalted now.

“What’s the problem, doc? We just got here and there is not a single soul around.”

“The city has been evacuated!” the Russian told them. “The news reports indicate that, after a confrontation with the South African army and the RPD, the Scissor Army barricaded themselves at the iThemba Labs’ Gauteng facilities.”

“That’s where Kenyetta and Mulalo work!” the aide interrupted.

“Doc, we’re close to that lab.” Astro confessed. “The Shikakan elder asked us to rescue some people who work there.”

“What a coincidence!” the Doctor was strangely relieved. “I was going to ask you to go there!”

“How come?” Astro asked intrigued.

“You can’t let the plutonium fall into the hands of those maniacs! Only god knows what they’d do with it.” Dr. Cossack pleaded.

“Whoa! Plutonium? I thought they were only doing research there! This might just be a tad too much for us to handle.” Astro admitted.

“We have to do it, Naop.” GroundMan addressed his leader, and then his team. “We can’t turn our backs on these people.”

“I hate it when you’re right, Lyon.” Astro sighed in resignation. “How do you suggest we get into the labs, doc?”

“That is going to be easier said than done, I’m afraid: the SA has complete control over a 3 mile radius from the Witwatersrand University campus, where the laboratories are located. Meanwhile, the RPD and the army have evacuated the city, but their forces are also concentrated near the campus. Both sides are avoiding an all out battle due to the hazardous nature of their objective.”

“Awesome. We’re looking at a potential nuclear disaster, ready to blow us into oblivion.” Astro wasn’t so eager anymore. He was no coward, but this honestly seemed like more than four robot masters could ever handle. “Tyrants, we have to keep doing what we’ve done so far: stealth tactics.”

“Don’t worry.” GroundMan assured. “I’ve got it covered.” Morphing into his compacted self, he started drilling a hole in the ground, quickly making it bigger for everyone to fit inside.

“I’ll send you a map of the area.” Cossack offered. “Good luck, Naop.”

“You heard the man… let’s get going.” Astro signalled the rest of his team to jump into the hole, which was now several meters deep. “You stay here baldie, and wait for the rescued hostages.” The aide nodded diligently. Astro thought he was a brave guy, for a human that is...


Johannesburg’s Planetarium, Witwatersrand University Campus.
1:00 p.m.

The ground beneath the main auditorium of Johannesburg Planetarium was shaking. In matter of seconds, a conglomeration of drills on wheels broke through the concrete, morphing back into the robot master GroundMan. Soon, the other Tyrants followed, covered in dirt.

“GroundMan Express: the best way to travel!” Astro man joked while shaking off the dust. “Well, that took us long enough. If the map was correct, we should be at the Planetarium.”

Annoyed, TenguMan pointed at the giant mechanical representation of the solar system that was hanging above them.

“Oh, that’s good.” Astro shrugged.

“What do we do now?” Tengu asked impatient.

“According to the map, there is no easy way into the laboratories.” Astro pointed out. “This is gonna be hell if we get caught. Any suggestions?” he looked at his teammates, but no one had a plan.

Just then, steps could be heard from afar.

The auditorium was pretty big and dome-shaped, and they were standing right in the middle, where the mechanism for the solar system was. So a wall, approximately ten feet tall, surrounded them, hiding the mechanism from the view of possible spectators. AstroMan shushed his teammates, hoping that whoever had entered the auditorium wouldn’t detect them…


The Tyrants huddled by the wall, listening to the footsteps come gradually closer to the mechanism. As the footsteps drew closer, they could here the metallic "click-click" of a rifle action locking into place.

"Trouble" Ground Man mouthed, as he and Pirate Man readied their respective weapons. As the footsteps came to about five feet from the mechanism, they came to an abrupt stop. At first, the auditorium was dead silent for several seconds. But Astro could now hear another sound coming from outside the planetarium. It was soft and distant, but it had a definite rhythm to it. The four Tyrants could do nothing but look at each other, bewildered.

A few seconds later, the Tyrants could hear the sound of footsteps again, this time moving away from them, and quickly. Naop dared himself to hover up and look over the wall. He could make out a Splitter Joe fleeing through an emergency exit. Just as the door slammed shut, the other three Tyrants breathed a collective sigh of relief.

"What was that all about?" Ground Man, asked. Tengu simply shrugged.

"Who cares? I'm not going to look a gift horse-,"

"Quiet!" Astro hushed. Whatever this sound was, it was getting closer. The others could hear it now, too. It was accompanied by another sound. At first, it sounded like a deep train whistle. But it soon turned into a roar that kept rising like an air raid siren filled with blind rage.

"That Joe's got the right idea!" Pirate Man noted, but he and the other Tyrants were already sprinting towards the emergency exit. As Charge Man ripped through the planetarium's west entrance, all four Tyrants piled through the exit and came out by the soccer field. Or at least, what used to be the soccer field. The SA had turned it and the other surrounding athletic fields into a nest of stony fox holes, undoubtedly conjured by Stone Man and manned by too many Joes to count. Napalm Man stood at the center of it all, brandishing his impressive aresnal.

"Finally!" Napalm exclaimed. "I was beginning to think setting these up was a waste of time!" Napalm Man and his brigade quickly opened fire at the off-guard Tyrants. Ground Man took a direct hit from a napalm bomb in his lower right leg, the force of the explosion tossing him several feet. Pirate Man took several shots to the chest as he dove away from the collapsing building. Astro had taken a few shots through his lower section, but hrough quick thinking, he'd conjured a handful of copy vision duplicates, and was using them to provide cover fire and to draw the SA's fire away from his teammates...with limited success. He was soon doused in scorching hot napalm courtesy of the SA's cruel captain. Tengu Man took to the air as the screaming Charge Man smashed through the planetarium. The raging behemoth angrily swatted Tengu out of the sky and barrelled towards the entrenched Joes and the iThemba Labs.

"Not this way, you idiot!" Napalm screamed as he fired a barrage of napalm bombs at the ground in front of Charge's feet. With a roar of surprise, Charge Man turned away from the Joes and sprinted towards the university's chapel.

"Get us out of here, Lyon!" Astro screamed, trying to ignore the searing pain and hold off the Joes with his copy vision duplicates. Groundman nodded as he tried to put the fire on his leg while trying to shrug off the Joes' rifle fire. However, instead of turning into a tank-like burrowing machine, Ground Man howled in excruciating pain as flames and sparks shot out from where his leg was blasted. Tengu Man was trying to take to the air, but his jets had crumpled in from where the Hell Train slugged him.

A pile of burning rubble that used to be one of Wits University's pride and joys sat on top of theTyrants' escape route. And a batallion of Joes led by Napalm Man laid in front of them. They were caught between a meat grinder and a hard place.


"Fuck!" was all that AstroMan could think. But he had to remain calm and do his job. "That behemoth seem to be out of control, perhaps we can use that to our advantage..."

The TT could only dodge the enemy fire to an extent. The rifle fire was gradually damaging them, since their main concern was to dodge every napalm bomb that came their way. They avoided staying to close to each other, in order to distribute the enemy's attacks more evenly. They weren't going to last if they didn't think of something.

"What do we do?" PirateMan asked desperately. To everyones surprise, his answer came through Astro's voice that only the TT could hear inside their heads. This was puzzling, since they didn't have any sort of private communication system installed, at least not to their knowledge.

"Quickly guys, give me some cover fire!" Astro ordered his team, who were still moving like crazy, in order to dodge every napalm bomb.

PirateMan managed to destroy a couple of fox holes with his remote mines, while GroudMan did the same with his spread drills, although his mobility was limited due to the fire on his right leg. Tengu Man launched a couple of tornado holds, which lifted several Joes in mid air. The AstroMan copies kept on circling the area, trying to confuse the enemy, wile firing back with plasma spheres.

"Lyon... if you don't manage to morph, this mission is over." GroundMan heard inside his head.

"I'll try!" he shouted back.

"You have to go with the plan, while we deal with these guys." Astro continued to speak directly into his mind. "Do not look back and go with the plan!"

Meanwhile, Tengu had managed to regain his hovering function to an extent. He could now levitate above the ground, but his jetpack was sure to give in if he attempted to take flight.

"Guys, I need you to go after the christmas express from hell. Go around these bastards and lure him into the labs." Astro communicated with Pirate and Tengu. They thought he was crazy at first, but they gradually understood what he had in mind. "I'm gonna leave you two alone to deal with their leader. I hope you don't mind."

"Heh..." TenguMan chuckled. "Do we have a choice?"

"Not really." Astro admitted. "Good luck!"

Napalm Man noted the TT break the dynamic formation they had somewhat adopted to fire back at his men. Ground Man had actually gone stiff for a moment, while the others moved away from him. The Astro copies continued with the same bothersome tactic, but he paid no attention to them anymore, they were not even making significant damage. Instead he decided to take the opportunity to finish off the injured robot.

The napalm bomb came out of his arm cannon, the team realized it was headed for GroundMan, and to Napalm's surprise, a floating metallic orb had gotten in its way, making it explode in mid air. Enraged, he fired another bomb, but this time, the thing didn't even leave his arm cannon. A remote mine that had been hidden on the lower side of the cannon had activated, its shock wave causing his napalm bomb to explode, with half of it still inside his cannon. Things got messy for him, no less. While his armor was resilient to his own weapon, the barrel of his cannon was not designed to sustain damage from the inside. "Grah!!! Kill them! Kill them all!!!" He shouted with a mix of pain and rage.

"Gotcha!" PirateMan exclaimed. By now him and Tengu were already near the chapel, where ChargeMan was still pondering on what to demolish next.

Meanwhile, if he hadn't been a robot, GroundMan would have been sweating a river from the effort he was making. Pushing his body to the limit he was finally able to transform into a tank, although his rear end remained ignited with flames. He quickly dug into the ground, hoping that the fire would extinguish as he tunneled down.

Napalm's men kept o firing at the remaining Tyrants, while their captain himself was trying to put out the fire coming from the inside of his arm cannon. Soon, one of the Joes noticed AstroMan hovering right above them, with a glowing aura surrounding him, while the other copies served as a distraction. He immediately communicated this to Napalm, who identified Astro as the son of a bitch partially responsible for what happened to him. The order was issued to shot him down by all means. The gigantic war machine himself, launched a barrage of napalm bombs at the robot master using his remaining arm cannon.

As soon as the bombs touched Astro, he vanished out of sight. It had been another copy, one who had pretended to be readying an astro crush...

By the time Napalm realized this, a rain of meteors was already upon them. From behind them, Astro had launched an astro crush at full force, obliterating the fox holes and most of their occupants. Napalm however, endured the rain of destruction, not without a scratch.

When the comedown ended, AstroMan was nowhere to be seen...

Further enraged, Napalm sent his few remaining men to look for him, but his eye caught a glimpse of a more imminent problem. The remaining Tyrants were about to lead ChargeMan into the labs. They had taken the time to go around the soccer fields, luring the behemoth with petty attacks.

"Holy shit... these guys are crazy!" Napalm exclaimed, as he rushed to try and stop his teammate...


Waveman stood in the way of the towering Chargeman who was speeding down at full speed.

"Sit, boy, sit!" the aquatic terror ordered to Chargeman as if he were a dog, but his command fell on deaf ears. The giant train continued to stomp his way towards the blob of water, who only looked like a mere puddle to him.

"I said.... SIT."

Beforehand, Waveman had excavated water from various sources in the campus. He was glad he did, and the mass of water behind him splashed in front of him and rose. After mere seconds it ascended 25 feet into the air, forming an extremely long pole.

Chargeman didn't see it at all. He crashed headfirst into the pressurized water, the liquid not budging an inch upon impact while the train was immediately knocked off of his feet, finally landing with a thunderous crash on his rear. His eyes rolled around in confusion.

Waveman sighed. "Kyah... That should calm-"

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR YOU ASSHOLE?! YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT!" And the train was back up on his feet, continuing his rampage.

"Whoa! Hey, I'm your teammate!" Waveman slipped out of the way with ease and Chargeman ran right past, although he swerved back around and thundered his way back towards him.

"Holy seacow on a shish kabob! The Tech Tyrants!" Waveman screamed, pointing a finger past Chargeman. The red colossus followed Waveman's gaze and saw nothing, for the water demon had purposely pointed in the wrong direction. However, when Charge turned his attention back to Wave, the maniacal officer had already disappeared.

Now where was I? The Tyrants? Oh yeah, they went over there, I think.

This time, the hell train ran into the right direction. Watching from the rooftop, Waveman cursed. "Son of a submariner," he muttered, and dove in chase of the behemoth once more.


“Goddamnit! Not this shit again!” Napalm Man vexed as he tried to ignore the seething pain searing through his arm canon and fired a napalm bomb at Charge Man’s leg. Within seconds, Charge Man’s lower right leg was engulfed in flames. Charge Man’s only response was to come to a skidding stop and turn to face Napalm, his eyes filled with rage.

“Charge Man you twenty-foot sack of shit! You know-“ Charge Man bellowed with unbridled fury as he took a swing at Napalm Man. Napalm dove for cover, but the monster still knocked his Napalm Nuke howitzer cannon off. Screaming incomprehensibly, Charge Man raised his foot over the tank robot. Without a moment to spare, the captain tumbled into one of the ruined foxholes before Charge Man could squash him like a bug. Charge Man raised his foot again directly over Naplam’s foxhole, still screaming. In a panic, Napalm Man fired a barrage of napalm bombs into Charge’s face. The Hell Train toppled over with resounding force, covering his face, though screaming more in rage than pain. Napalm Man wasted no time climbing out the ruined fox hole, hissing in frustration. The monster wasn’t going to be down for long.

“You had it coming.” In his heart, Napalm Man knew that Charge Man couldn’t control himself. But now, this moron’s tantrums were going to do more than cost them some cheap factory, they were going to set off who knows how many megatons of plutonium and get them all killed. This mad dog had be put down, no matter the cost.

“This is Captain Napalm Man, Shit Piles! Charge Man’s bitched up his last mission. You all know what to do,” Napalm Man ordered over his com.

“What do you think I was trying to do?!” Wave replied frantically as he ran over towards Charge.

“What about the Tyrants?” Gyro replied casually over the com. Napalm Man watched the Tyrants sprint towards the labs, apparently unaware of the snipers on the rooftops, lining up their shots. But he couldn’t kid himself; he knew damn well they wouldn’t be enough to stop the Tyrants. But as long as he could keep them outside of the labs, they’d still be his bitches.

“They got us into this mess…” Napalm Man sneered. “…Make sure they help clean it up,” From the corner of his eye, he could see the Tyrants getting within pissing distance of the labs. But as they got in fifty feet of the lab, they were cut off by sniper fire and several sidewinder missiles. And not a moment too soon. Charge Man was getting up, his gaze fixed on the labs.

“What’s your rush?” Gyro, his weapons trained on the Tyrants. “The Captain wants a chat with you,”

Stone Man and Crystal Girl were busying helping themselves to the spoils of war. The Joes in the labs were busy loading the plutonium on to a few “borrowed” choppers. Napalm Man insisted that they pick the labs clean of whatever plutonium they had now, hoping that a couple dozen slugs of plutonium would convince the General to let their heads keep their bodies company if the RPD or Cossacks took the labs back. The choppers carrying the first two cases were already en-route back Home, along with a few hapless students as extra leverage/ride-home entertainment. Crystal also made sure to help herself to their formula for manufacturing plutonium. No matter what happened, the Ascendant Androids were coming home winners.

“Just one more case left,” a Stone reported emotionlessly.

“Swell.” Crystal answered. She was just relieved that things were going right for a change. Maybe it’d keep the Captain from feeding Crystal her teammates. Maybe. However, her relatively high spirits were quickly dashed as she saw Gravity Man exiting the plutonium reserve area, holding the last case of plutonium slugs.

“What are you doing with those?” Crystal asked, concerned. “You know the drill, the Joes are supposed to handle those for us,”

“What? I just wanted a moment to admire their raw power,” Gravity Man replied innocently. Stone’s and Crystal’s eyes were fixed on Gravity as he gently set the case of plutonium slugs down and opened it, his eyes wide with delight. The siblings didn’t know what this unbalanced robot was about to do. “Remarkable, aren’t they?” he asked quietly, more to himself than to his captive audience. “The power of dozens of nuclear weapons in my grasp…” Gravity Man paused, taking a moment to relish the apprehension on his allies’ faces. He then reached out towards a slug, his fingers curling around it. “Napalm Man could only dream of having such power at his disposal,” he added, almost resentfully.

“He’s losing it,” Stone Man whispered. Crystal nodded, but what could she do? Every option she could think with ended with them crushed in on themselves or blown up. Gravity Man was about to remove a slug when the ground underneath them began to buckle.

“What in the-“ Crystal asked, bewildered. Suddenly, a brown tank loaded to bear with drills burst out of the ground and partially engulfed in smoldering flames. Before any of the officers could react, the tank transformed into a massive robot and grabbed the case of plutonium out of Gravity’s hand.

“Won’t have any of that now,” Ground Man proclaimed triumphantly as he backed away from the mad man. Both Crystal and Stone sighed in relief. They’d never thought they’d be happy to see a Cossack Bot intervene until now. However, Gravity, glared icily at the interloper like an angry child who wanted his favorite toy back.

“I’m asking you politely…” Gravity asked darkly, holding out his hand. “Could you please return that case to me?”

“Fat chance,” Ground Man spat defiantly. Gravity Man simply smiled cruelly as he used his gravity strike to lob one of Crystal Girl’s nearby crystals directly into Ground Man’s wounded leg. Screaming in agonizing pain, Ground Man as the crystal impaled him just below the knee, causing him to drop the case. However, Gravity Man uses his gravity hold to keep the case from falling and happily strolls over to retrieve it. Just as Gravity’s in arm’s reach of the case, the crystal in Ground Man’s leg dislodges itself and floats directly in front of Gravity Man, blocking him.

“This has gone far enough, Gravity,” Crystal warned, conjuring another crystal in her hand. “I see a lot of pain and suffering in your future if you don't stand down,”

“You’re starting to sound like the captain, Crystal,” Gravity commented bitterly, rubbing the scar on his hand where Napalm Man stabbed him. "I HATE the captain," All three robots shot each other anxious looks as they heard the sounds of metal and concrete groaning all around Gravity Man.

“Saw that one coming,” Crystal noted dryly.


"Now, do you know what is inside these labs?" Napalm asked rhetorically. "Plutonium. Lots and lots of plutonium. Enough plutonium for this whole country to kiss its sorry ass goodbye. If I were you, I would you know, prevent such a thing from happening. In other words..." the officer struggled to finish the sentence. "You're going to have to AT LEAST not stand here so that giant oaf doesn't charge for you and roll right through these labs. Understand?"

The Tyrants nodded nervously.

"Ah, and here he comes now," the tank Android muttered as the Hell Train Express clambered in a blind rage towards them. They scattered, firing their weapons in an attempt to slow down the mad behemoth, but to no avail.

Stretching his body Waveman brought himself in front of Chargeman's face and swung his giant water pole, striking with great force in the forehead. The red monster stopped, recoiling from the ringing pain.

"Keep this guy occupied! I'll be back!" Waveman ordered, and he leaped from his spot and sped off elsewhere.

Chargeman, recovering from the blow, had his attention to Napalmman, who was now blasting the hell out of him. Now with his legs completely covered in flames, he ran towards the Ascendant Androids captain, but he was also being attacked from the left by Gyroman in the air. Chargeman decided to deal with Gyro's assaults and go for Napalm, but he was attacked from the right, this time by the Tech Tyrants.

As Pirateman assaulted Chargeman with Remote Mine after Remote Mine, he sighed. What was he doing, working with these lunatics? Even if it WAS for a good reason, he felt that he was making a deal with the devil. "If one of us doesn't die then all of you will be spared," Gyroman had promised at the last second, but there was no way he could be trusted. Aku knew that once this was over he had to get his team out of this place immediately.

Then he thought about the hostages. Were they even still alive?

Chargeman didn't know what to do. He was being attacked from three different directions, and all of the attacks coming from everywhere was confusing the hell out of him, as well as weathering his armor.

He would just run them all over, he decided.

Then, the barrage of attacks stopped. Chargeman looked around and saw that everyone's gaze was past his humongous frame.

Something heavy slammed into his back with tremendous force. Another object went for his legs, knocking him off balance and causing him to land on his back.

Before he could react, the two massive makeshift tridents pinned each of his arms. They were hollow, filled with water on the inside and more water wrapped around it on the outside. A third trident came out and struck a spot that would immobolize both of Chargeman's legs, a spot that was right below an area that would have made any man cringe had that place been hit instead.

Waveman struggled to keep Charge pinned down as the monster fought furiously to free himself. "Find some way to calm him down, fast!" Waveman barked. Then all of a sudden, his insane demeanor that had been dormant for some time resurfacing. "Or would you like to say sayonara to him... and have me eat him?" he cackled, recalling the time he had tasted scraps of the hell train.


His holographic skills were put to the test. Astro Man had made himself look like a common Sniper Joe, as he simulated to be running towards an emergency exit at the side of the main build of the iThemba Gauteng facilities. A frame as bulky as his was not easily hidden beneath a hologram, so his trick ended up looking quite blurry, since he tried to simulate the background to cover the surplus. However, this was easily compensated by the fact that he didn’t loose a second, and immediately went for his objective.

He carefully opened the door, only to find a “fellow” SA soldier. Acting cool was not going to cut it, so he smashed the Joe’s head against the wall with one of his floating orbs. When the Joe crumbled on the ground, Astro stood still, as if waiting for more enemies.

Fortunately for him, most of them should have been busy with the racket going on outside, since no one else came. With utmost stealth, Astro worked his way into the labs. Simulating the indoors background with holograms proved to be a hundred times easier. He only had to be careful about his immediate surroundings, if anyone got too close, his cover would be surely be blown.

On his way, he noticed two different groups of Joes, one of them heading to the lobby and the other to the laboratories. All of them were obviously too busy to notice that one of their own was out of line. Astro just made sure to remain at a safe distance. His main objective was to look for survivors.

Eventually, he made it into the library. Opening the doors, he noticed a group of people in lab coats kneeled on the ground, with four Joes pointing their riffles at them. “I’m here to transport the prisoners.” Astro faked it, he figured it was worth a shot. And for a moment, when the Joes looked at each other, he actually thought it had worked… until they pointed their weapons at him and fired.

Jumping to the side, he barely managed to dodge their attack. Astro didn’t have a lot of space to manoeuvre, especially with the hostages in the middle of the room. But soon, a young man took the initiative and guided his fellow scientists into a corner of the room. This left Astro with a lot more options…

Quickly forming a set of copies, and firing at the SA Joes, proved to be enough. It wasn’t long before his plasma shots and metallic orbs finished them off. With so little room, the robot master didn’t go without a scratch. In any case, Astro was getting used to the pain inflicted by riffle, although his wounds were still escalating. His middle section being the most damaged.

Taking a moment to regain his breath, he finally decided to address the scientists. “Mulalo?” he approached the young man who had guided the panicked white coats. “My name is Naop, and I’m a friend of Lyonskar’s. I’m here to get you out.”


The AA’s disagreement was about to turn into more than just looks, courtesy of the maniacal GravityMan. GroundMan took the opportunity to back away. As Lyonskar, he was familiar with gravitational technology, but he could tell that the abilities he used to have were nothing compared to Gravity’s.

As if on cue, the exit doors leading into the lab’s helipad at the back of the building, were slammed open by a Joe. The hostages were right behind him.

“This is not a good time, soldier!” CrystalGirl shouted at the Joe, thinking he was there to deliver the hostages. “Take them back inside and wait for further instruction.”

“How about no?” The Joe retorted, as he came closer.

“What?!” Crystal was pissed by the Joe’s indiscipline.

Finally, Astro dropped his charade and dissolved his holographic makeup. “Lyon, take them with you and get out!” he signalled the scientist to jump into the hole in the ground.

“But…!” GroundMan was worried about his leader.

“Goddamnit man, can’t you follow an order?!” it wasn’t often that Astro used this tone on his teammates, and it gave him the chills. Without another word, GroundMan complied.

Astro himself blocked the path to the hole, making it clear that they would have to go through him if they wanted the hostages back. “What now, ladies? Shall we dance?” he defied.

CrystalGirl was both, angered and shocked by the guy’s bravery/stupidity. He was about to face a third of the Ascendant Androids, on his own. One of them, the most powerful member of the team, no less. But right now, rather than worrying about the poor bastard’s fate, she was more worried about one thing: the plutonium.


“Heh heh heh…”, the silvery red Gravityman chortled as the room around him buckled and bowed into dome-like indentations, indicating the invisible sphere that marked the immediate reach of his Gravity Hold.

CrystalGirl, one of the more intelligent members of the collectively insane Ascendant Androids, shifted her glance over to Stoneman, who seemed braced for a fight, though he couldn’t decide on who he really should target.

“Grav’s lost it, blockhead.”, she whispered. “Even if he targets Astro Boy over there, we’ll be killed by his feedback in this place.”

Stone nodded slowly. “Maybe,”, with as close to a whisper as his booming voice could lower itself to, “we should beat a tactical retreat.”

“…Grav’s more than able to kill this jerk by himself, afterall…”, she reasoned, though in reality she was attempting to justify what may be construed as desertion by Napalmman later on. That, however, made little sense to her, considering everything they were after in the complex was gone, one way or the other.

And there was no reasoning with Gravityman. Not with THAT look adorning his face.

Eyeing Astroman, Crystal brought her hand to her ear, initiating a conversation with her preoccupied captain outside. “Caps…This is Crystal.”

“Keep it short, princess.”

“Stone and I are withdrawing from the labs now. Gravityman is encountering a sole enemy inside.”

“He’s WHAT?!”, Napalmman’s voice screamed through her receiver as fire could be heard in the background. “Don’t you idiots realize what he’ll do to that place?!”

“It’s too late, Cap!”, she countered. “He’s already in that…mood.”

“…God DAMN IT! No way the lab’s gonna stay up if that’s the case. Get your asses out here ASAP, and protect whatever cargo you’re bringing! Over and out!”

Crystal smirked and looked over to her large, rocky amigo. “You heard him. Let’s jet.”

The two Androids doubled back, coming within a few feet of Astroman, who was still clearly trying to figure out the best plan of attack against this monstrous being at the other end of the room. Crystal momentarily stole his thoughts by leaning in close to whisper something.

“Hope you don’t have any plans tonight, cause you’ve got a date with Death now.”

Wickedly chuckling, she departed behind her rocky brother, mockingly blowing a kiss to Astroman in the process.

Naop shrugged it off as best as he could.

“Good. Now we’re alone. I always prefer privacy whenever I can get it, especially when I’m working.”, Gravityman grinned with his head tilted downward. The lights in the room were beginning to flicker as electrical conduits began to sever under his power, casting strange shadows over his self-mutilated form.

“This is stupid, Gravityman.”, Astro asserted. “There’s no reason for us to fight with the scientists and the plutonium gone.”


Astroman’s head tilted to the side quizzically. “Yes. Fight.”

“Heh heh heh…You say ‘fight’ as if you think you’re actually going to put up resistance. That’s cute.”

By now, Astroman had recognized Gravityman’s limits, thanks to what he had read about him, and the tell-tale damage he was doing to the room around him. He reasoned that staying out of his immediate range would greatly reduce his risk of being killed.

“Hey.”, Gravityman beckoned suddenly. “Why don’t you come over here? I’m getting lonely.”

Naop looked at him oddly. “I don’t see what any of this is going to accomplish. Don’t you know that Chargeman is destroying everything outside of these labs? If he decides to plow through here…”

“It’d make for a brilliant lightshow. I’ll bet that with all of this nuclear testing equipment laying around here, he could make this place glow a healthy green for decades to come.”

“Yeah…And with you in the middle of it.”, Astro countered. “Don’t be stupid!”

“Oohhh…I’m sure my ‘siblings’ can handle the renegade oaf…Why don’t you and I stay here and have some fun of our own, instead?”, Gravityman grinned, the lab’s floor cracking suddenly beneath his feet, and large chunks of the tile-covered concrete began to rise upwards.

“Shit…He really has lost it…”, Astroman cursed to himself.

“Heh heh heh…”

Gravityman flicked a basketball-sized chunk of broken cement with his finger as it hung in the air before him, and with that mere flick it responded by bolting across the room at near sound barrier-breaking speed. In its trip from Gravity’s fingers to the wall behind Astroman, it grazed his orb-like lower half, causing a very solid “thwack” to resound in the room.

It was a demonstration.

Astroman lurched forward, and fought the urge to call down his Astro Crush in retaliation.

“…No. If I do that, it’ll crash into the lab itself. If one of my meteors hits any of this equipment, things could get really…bad.”

Astroman grunted in frustration upon understanding his situation, which was rather grim.

“C’mon, guy!”, Gravity chided, launching more gravity-affected debris towards Astro, barely missing him in the process. “Aren’t you going to do more than sit there and get killed? Those are the most boring victims!”

Astroman continued thinking to himself as he went on the move, avoiding as much of the deadly onslaught as he could.

“I can’t do much of anything to him in here.”, he stated to himself. “So…I’ve got to get this maniac outside!”


Outside, Chargeman’s manic rampage ravaged on throughout the field near the labs.

“Goddamnit!”, Napalmman screamed as he finally gave up on saving his mostly-melted hand cannon. With his charred, also burnt hand no free, he pointed towards Stoneman and CrystalGirl as they emerged from the laboratories just behind the last of the plutonium-touting Joes. “You useless sacks of shit been on vacation down there?! Get it in gear and mobilize against that idiot out there!”

“You’re the boss…Allegedly…”, Crystal snorted, signaling her large follower to continue alongside her.

As the two Androids ran towards the out of control ally of theirs, they took a moment to realize something strange.

“It looks as though we’re in a temporary alliance with the enemy.”, Stoneman announced.

“Seems that way. Guess we’ll kill ‘em later.”, she shrugged off.

The two were actually in for a surprise, as the handful of Tyrants were actually working rather well with the psychotic SA operatives. For instance, Pirateman was using his remote mines within Waveman’s body to carry his explosives to hard to reach targets on the ever-rampaging Chargeman, who was now running in a pain-laced haze as a multi-faceted assault wore him down.

Even still, he remained on his feet, swinging his arms about whenever something crossed his path, and never stopping his maddened blitz.

Occassionally, he would find one of his car-sized feet wrenching downwards awkwardly, as they fell into deep chasms, which could be attributed to Groundman and his tactic of choice, namely creating a weave of tunnels for the hard-stomping Chargeman to stumble upon.

Stoneman had an idea.

Using his power at hand, he found Groundman’s current location, and hurled him, along with a considerable chunk of Earth he happened to be drilling through, at Chargeman. Groundman remained unphased, as he wasn’t even aware of the change in altitude until he broke out of his rocky chamber in mid flight, with his drills suddenly finding a new home in Chargeman’s face.

It was sudden, quick, and caught everyone off guard. Even Stoneman, who seemed quite pleased with himself given the outcome. In a few minutes, Chargeman would stop moving like a Wildman without his eyes to guide him, and the operation would be over.

“You IDIOT!”, CrystalGirl screeched, slapping Stoneman in the back of his head, even though both of them knew he couldn’t feel it. “Look at what you’ve done!”

Peering up, Stone noticed his plan wasn’t quite panning out as he imagined it would. Chargeman, now wobbling about madly, was making a beeline towards the center of the labs in a fit of blind fury, and despite the Tyrants and Androids’ best efforts, wasn’t being stopped.

“Uhhh…”, Stoneman stuttered out.

“Don’t you get it?! We’re DEAD!”, Gyroman yelled from above him. “There’s enough residual nuke fuel in that joint to blow us all to Hell!”

As Chargeman continued his disjointed march, a dusty explosion rocked out of the lab from within, followed by a maelstrom of plasma fire. From the explosion, Astroman’s damaged form came whirling out, barely able to stay afloat as it was chased by a barrage of sub sonic debris and wreckage shot blindly from the lab.

Some of those sub sonic bits bounced off of the body of Chargeman, giving him further motivation to continue on his path of blind destruction.

“Naop! Get the hell outta there!”, screamed Tenguman, who struggled to stay in levitation behind the others.

Astroman was already way ahead of him, even without hearing the demand from his teammate. As he tumbled backwards, he caught a glimpse of Gravityman from within the lab, still grinning.

That grinning stopped as soon as he realized what was upon him.

His eyes widened, but he still continued grinning with his teeth gnashed tightly together. Smashing his hands to the ground, he conjured up all of his strength at once, amping up gravity by ten fold in the process.

Chargeman remained completely unaware of what was going on just underfoot, until his foot actually separated itself from his body when it planted itself in Gravityman’s hold, and his own furious momentum continued to carry on without it. His entire mass continued to travel forward without it, finally tumbling over Gravityman, and launching himself through the opposite side of the lab.

Without a leg to stand on, and without eyes, Chargeman was less of a threat now, even as his molten ash continued to engulf the area as he threw a tantrum fit.

Seemingly ignoring Chargeman’s plight, Gravityman stood upright and sought out his original foe, now that his latest threat had been dealt with.

“Now, where were we?”, he chuckled as he scanned the area for his nemesis, finally spying him high above. “…Oh…Damn it all…”

With his Gravity hold still in full force, his own power helped to guide the incoming Astro Crush, which slammed into the outside of the labs and Gravityman, pummeling him into the ground with brutal power.

When it was all said and done, most of the outer section of the lab had been destroyed. However, the inner sanctum, with its nuclear-irradiated testing materials, was still intact.

“”Did I just…see that?”, Gyroman whispered to an equally astonished CrystalGirl.

“…I seriously didn’t think ANYONE could actually beat that f’n psycho…”, she replied quietly, though her voice was tinged with wonder.

Behind her, the bulky, black form of her captain approached.

“Jesus H Christ, what the fuck happened here?!”

“….Uh…Chargeman situation has been…dealt with.”, she reported.

“Yeah, and Gravity’s down, too.”, Gyroman saluted from his hovering position.

“You gotta be friggin’ kidding me.”, Napalmman grimaced.

Cautiously, the Tyrants regrouped around their leader Naop, who was seriously wounded during his escape from Gravityman’s clutches. Most of the team was in dire straits, as a matter of fact, and were a bit nervous at the thought of continuing the fight against the remaining five Androids.

“Alright…Get those two retards out of here, then.”, Napalmman said. “At least we’ve got our primary objective…”

“What about the scientists?”, Crystal reminded.

“Screw ‘em. We’ll say Gravity crushed ‘em to death. I don’t have the patience to go and retrieve ‘em…do you?”

“Hell no.”, Crystal rebuked.

“What about…them?”, Stoneman motioned towards the huddled Tyrants.

Napalm looked upon them for a few moments, contemplating their fate. Deep in his mind, he enjoyed the feeling of playing God. That’s what made him a good Captain, in his mind.

“Hey losers!”, he yelled out to them, leveling his remaining hand cannon at them. Collectively, the team groaned and braced themselves, ready to elude the ensuing Napalm Bomb.

Instead, they could hear a slight chuckling. “See you ‘round…”

It was Napalmman’s way of saying “thanks” for their role in stopping Chargeman. Afterall, if they weren’t able to stop him from plowing through the lab, they may all be dead. At least, they got what they had come for.

“Are we…Just going to let them go with that stuff?!”, Tenguman urged his leader to action.

Astroman lay on the ground, tilted up on one shoulder. “Do you really think we have much of a say in the matter?”

Bitterly, the group took stock of their current situation. Seriously damaged, they were forced to cut their losses.

At least…they managed to rescue the scientists. That had to count for something…right?

Watching the Androids depart, Astroman thought to himself.

“Yeah…These people might be safe for now. But, what about when those psychos manage to put that plutonium to use? Who will be safe then?”

After an hour drifted by, the Tyrants found themselves to be the lone robots left in the vicinity, as the SA had entirely cleared out. It was as if they knew they could simply come back and take over the city if they wanted to, and today proved it. It was this kind of arrogance that really miffed the team, and was made even more aggravating when they realized how close they were to saving it, and even closer to losing everything.

At the end of the day…Were any of them safe?



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