The Business of War

The World is my Rome...

Scenario D
Cosmic Gladiators (C)
Wraithman (SA)
Pride (W)

Location: Rome, Italy
Max. Cossack Scrap Value: 9,557
SA Infantry: 1,768
RPD Units: 1,054
Wily Bots: 877

...the CG agreed upon the wording. The misquote for their time in Beijing had a dash of irony to it, for they now found themselves in Rome, the city "all roads lead to". A Chinese proverb used vice-versa was only fair.

After getting a special module for each of them, the CG could now use Earth's teleportation systems. In space, such networks were non-existant, due to the limits of teleportation range.

They also now had radio, which Pluto was explaining the guidelines for to the rest of the team. "Only use the radio if there is no other option, or if you can offer a strategical advantage with false information." he explained, "Nothing on Earth can pick up on quantum signals, so by using the more advanced tech we're free from eavesdropping."

Jupiter was next to speak. "Okay, now we're here for salvaging and only salvaging. NO battles, NO sneak attacks, NO fooling around. Got it?"

The other CG immediately responded with "Sir, yes, sir!", seeing as how Cossack had given everyone a lecture on resources and funds just before they left.

"Okay, now to find a scrapyard or something..." Jupiter said, looking around.

Unfortunately, the CG found themselves in the least likely part of Rome to find ANY machinery, the Vatican City. The Catholic Church was well known for their disdain for Light's creations and other artificially intelligent machinery. They stopped publicly "hating" it back in 201X when the Pope was saved by a robot policeman, but you still never saw a robot anywhere near their places of worship.

"Great." Jupiter sighed, "Pluto, did you get a map this time?"

"Yes." he replied, a beeping noise signalling that he was accessing the file. "There's a scrapyard... on the other side of town..." he said with an increasingly worried voice.

"Okay, no need to panic. We'll just teleport out of here and come back on the other end of town.", Jupiter said calmly. But he soon found his teleportation abilities were not working. "Something's wrong, I can't teleport!"

Another annoying beep from Pluto confirmed the worst. "We're trapped. The RPD put up a teleport barrier to keep anyone from coming in." he said nervously, "The only reason we got in was because our teleporters are jury-rigged. They were good to squirm through the cracks once and only once."

Jupiter was in a tight situation. He had heard from Pluto's "research" what happened to the Gila Gladiators in Berlin. This kind of situation was every team's worst nightmare.

"Well, now this is just grand." Mars complained. "Five to One I have to blow up halt the city before this mission is over."

"Ah, stuff it shorty." Neptune said, smacking Mars in the back of the head. "You need to calm the frak down."

"I'd rather we just make it through here as quickly as possible." Pluto remarked. Mercury and Terra nodded in agreement.

Uranus started moving along quickly. "Well, then lets move before the SA finds us."

"Yeah, whatever." Mars said, following the rest of the CG.


Wraith surveyed the city his SA Joes were currently marching through. His troops were nearly as numerous as the Wily and RPD troops combined, and their superior intellect and build would assure victory against them, not even counting the squables and confrontation between those two factions. Four of Mesmer's Seige Joes were currently employed in battle, two of them were with him personally, with four more waiting for orders. Victory seemed within arms reach, just as it was before. Though, he wondered what Cossack's troops were up to at that moment.

A Dark Joe emerged from the ranks and saluted his commander. "Sir," He said, "The Cosmic Gladiators have been confirmed to be in the area. I saw them from the shadows myself. They're trapped in the RPD's anti-teleportation barrier."

Wraith chuckled and said, "Well, they'll have much to worry about soon to come. Thankfully the Seige Joes' jumps aren't hampered by such an obsticle. Simon, keep an eye on them, and take James with you. If you are discovered, escape, and if that is not possible take as many of them down as you can. Stick to the darkness, and it will protect you."

Simon, the Dark Joe, bowed and ran off, following orders. Wraith started talking to himself. "Well, I do so yearn to test my new abilities. Pride, Cosmic Gladiators, I do so hope that you are prepared for the Angel of Darkness's descent."


Pride sneezed. Being a robot, he hadn't even been aware that he could do such a thing until now.

"Damn you old man, making me go treasure hunting," he muttered to himself. He had brought 10 of his hounds with him this time, and they stalked behind him, stopping occasionally to sniff out any unwanted presences nearby.

After giving his commands to his army, they scattered with 300 remaining at his wing.

"Alright, let's move out," he said. Before him was a large, ruined building holed with arches, the Coliseum. They made their way to the arena.


Since Rome had been evacuated weeks ago, the RPD only kept control of the city to keep the SA from taking it over and using it. For troop transport advantages, the Metro Roma was still operational.

Unfortunately, the barrier extended several miles beyond the end of the line(s), so escape was no easier than before. Regardless, the CG got on an eerily empty train a couple kilometers away from the point they teleported to, hoping to reach a good salvaging area.

As the vehicle ran along through the tunnel, the lights flickered out and the train stopped.

Jupiter was the first to snap. "What the f- WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN EVERY TIME WE ENTER A SUBWAY?!"

Pluto took a scan of the area, coming to a bad conclusion. "The SA must have cut the power.", he said. Then after a short pause, repealed this possibility. "No... they would have done it days ago if they could have. This isn't like Beijing..."

"Then what happened?", Uranus asked.

As if to answer him, a troop of SA Joes could be heard marching down the tunnel from both sides. The CG waited in fear, as the enemy drew nearer. Then, as if by some miracle, they stopped in their tracks, turned around and left.

"I listened in on their radio." Pluto quickly said, "The SA knows we're here. Those Joes decided for themselves it would be in the SA's best interests to take us out, but a superior had other plans and stopped them. Apparently they're watching us, guys..."

The CG stepped out of the rail carriage, walking a couple kilometres before taking a nearby staircase to the surface. They emerged in front of the most deceptively beautiful place in Rome, from their point of view that is... The Colliseum.


Wraith allowed his Bethoven to fill his audio receptors, using his own mind as an mp3 player. Suddenly his radio blared to life. "Sir, they've found themselves in the colloseum. What are your orders?"

Wraith laughed, "How fitting. Stay in visual range of them."

"Sir, Pride's here too." James said.

"Really? Hm hm hm hm hm. Well, if that is the case... Simon, stay where you are and keep an eye on them. Also, all troops prepare "The Epistle to the Collosians". 6. But for now, lay low."


Wraith crossed his arms, his cloak billowing in the breeze. "Let's help turn the tide of battle..." He smirked. With that, he raised his hands over the battlefeild, and an unnatural darkness descended over the battlefeild, far away from the Colloseum, blotting out the sun and giving his specially trained SA troops the advantage, especially with his Seige Joes prowling the battlefield.


The CG started to walk into the ancient structure, when Pluto spotted the advancing Wily forces. "Hold it, guys." he said as he stopped listening to their radio, "Pride is on his way here. Let's lay low and see if they pass by..."

Mars looked aorund and noticed something odd about part of the city. "Ah, damn it all."

"What?" Jupiter asked. Mars simply pointed at the unnatural-looking clouds some distance away. "Frak."

"Great, not only is the Scissor Army playing Gauntlet for the moment, there's Wily forces and a potential SA Officer waiting to possibly slaughter us?" Sunstar whined. "That's it. This planet BLOWS."

"I'm with you, and I used to live here." Venus said flatly before the CG went for cover.

Mercury grumbled slightly. "This is one of those days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed."

"I'm with you." Uranus agreed.

Pluto's digital mind was hard at work, thinking up a strategy to get the team out. Finally, the last detail fell into place.

<Guys, get out of here. I'll stay behind and distract them>, he said over the QPS.

<Ok, just let me ask something first... Are you nuts?!> Jupiter blarred back.

<This is even crazier then any of MY plans!> Mars agreed.

<Look, I know what I'm doing! Just go! Before it's too late!>


As the darkness rolled in, Pride stopped. The "fog" was definitely unnatural, and he could feel a sinister presence. The hounds beside him suddenly tensed up and growled.

"This feeling.... Ah, I remember now. Death appears to be challenging once more, and I never back away from a challenge..."

He smirked as he meandered the Coliseum's structure, folding his arms with his hands in his coat armor.


<Just go! It's almost here!> Pluto repeated.

<Okay, okay. See ya, dead man walking...> Jupiter replied.

The CG turned and headed for a manhole cover, hoping to get far enough away in time.

(Pluto, you brave fool...) Jupiter thought to himself.

Pluto hid behind a fallen pedastal, waiting for Wraithman to enter. He peered from behind the ancient stone carving, to see Pride enter the famous structure.

(What's he doing here?) he wondered, pulling himself back behind the peice of rubble. (Well, maybe he can weaken Wraith for me...)

However, the thick black fog stayed put, centered on the hub of conflict away from the Colloseum. Wraith seemed intent on ignoring the Gladiators and Pride, instead focusing on the real war at hand.

Wraith continued watching the combat in the thick darkness as his radio began transmitting. "Sir, all of the Cosmic Gladiators are heading for the sewers save for Pluto."

"Continue with the "Epistle". However, change it to 4 so long as they completly flee. If not, keep it to 6."


"Oh and Simon?"

"Yes sir?"

"Feel free to carry out any assassination orders when conveniant. Use your own discression. Also, have James keep an eye on the fleeing Gladiators."



Suddenly, all communcations ability in the area began to die, leaving them with only static over the radio.

Pluto finished listening in on their radio, realising the fog made the electromagnetic spectrum useless. He sent a message to his team-mates over the QPS, <Look out guys. They're still watching you. Try to loose them before escaping.>

<Roger that.> Mars replied over the extremely long range system.

(So, you're not all about theatrics after all, Wraithman...) he thought to himself. (Well, I'll just have to come to you, with the element of surprise.)

He knew someone was watching him, and decided to test the effectiveness of his semi-secret ability. Muting his speakers to prevent the confirmation noise, that annoying beep, he scanned the area for Dark Joes.

The best part about his scanner was that it used quantum particles, just like the com system. It would go through ANYTHING except the target, reflecting off of it and giving away their position, even if they were behind a wall. The only downfall was, you had to know what the target WAS, or the device firing the particles would not know what to bouce off of.

(There,) he thought. (behind that wall, in the shadows...)

Pluto snuck out of the arena, as if to follow the others. Pride failed to see him, but he knew the Dark Joes were not so easily fooled.

Pluto knew a thing or two about the Colliseum. He knew from random reading that there had been a series of tunnels under it, used as a prison for those chosen to be fed to wild animals and as cages for the wild animals that were captured. He also knew that they had been excavated for archaeological purposes.

As soon as he reached the inside of the two rings of archways, he made a sharp turn to the right and jumped through a hole into the dark caverns. Once he got far enough away from the hole, he ran through the tunnels and hid behind a wall.

Then, he scanned for the Dark Joe again. ( the entrance, huh? Must be wondering about the hole...) But just in case, he turned on his super-hearing and night vision. Keeping his scanner going in constant sweeps, he waited.

Suddenly, the colusium shook with a tremendous force. Pride was the first to know the cause as a Seige Joe burst out of the wall behind him. A second bust through another part of the area, entering the main colluseum. A third crashed through yet another wall, the fourth walking through the hole he had just made. Dust rattled from the cielings as a Seige Joe stomped aroudn on the cieling above Pluto. The Seige Joe's communication interference stopped all communications save their own, as Mesmerman had specified.

Pluto could see the Dark Joe move his head as if speaking, followed by the sound of the extremely heavy Seige Joe leaping up and then crashing though the cieling behing Pluto.

The first's eye rested on Pride and his hounds. He swung aimed his buster at Pride at the same time the other aimed at Pluto. Other, normal Joes, about three dozen, began marching through the holes the Seige Joes had made. The Epistle to the Collosians: 4 had been accomplished. Each of the Seige Joes fired upon their targets as the other two began marching to meet up with their buddies.

Simultaniously, the escaping Gladiators remaining comunications began weakening, and the two Dark Joes following them issued their now-silent perceptions back to Wraithman, and there were still 6 Seige Joes left unnacounted for.

<Get the f*** out of here!> Pluto yelled over the QPS as he was was blasted backwards by the force of the shots. Fortunately it still worked, due to it's unreliance on electromagnetic forces that were all blocked by the communications disruptor. But Pluto could barely hear the reply from Jupiter with his head still spinning.

Despite the immense pain, he leaped up and ran straight at the Seige Joe. His energy claws extended and slashed straight through the support beams to the tunnel as he passed by them. Pluto leaped out of the gaping hole in the ceiling as the excavation caved in, burying the huge machine in several feet of dirt.

Knowing that the giant soldier would not be held off for long, he scanned the machine through the layers of soil, finding it's armor was made entirely of Met Alloy. It was bad, but he still had a slight advantage in that department.

The important pieces of the second generation stardroid armors were made of Solite, an extraterrestrial alloy that was 1.5 times as strong as Met Alloy. Of course, only some of their bodies were protected by Solite. The rest was covered in Polydostethylene, a polymer that was twice as strong as Kevlar 49 but, unfortunately, was weak against plasma weapons.

This was extremely apparent as Pluto's systems asessed the damage to his body. The inner workings were protected by the armor this time, but the armor itself was heavily damaged. Without even looking down, he knew the Polydostethylene was torn and tattered, and even the Solite scratched and dented.

(This is not going to be easy...), he thought to himself. It was a huge understatement. Running was not an option, but with his armor completely compromised he could not fight either.

"Wraith, you coward!" he yelled into the air. "Why don't you try fighting me yourself!" He glanced over at Pride and readied himself best he could.

Pride took out his guitar, aiming the barrel of the attached bazooka at the mass underground. He could feel it moving, attempting to free itself, but once it would pop out of the ground....


He jumped forward just in time as the stream of plasma penetrated his former position from behind. Now 20 feet in the air, he flipped back in a gainer to face the Siege Joe that had "teleported" out of the soil. Pride struck the trigger chord in his guitar and the rocket propelled itself towards the Siege Joe at Mach 1. The tank-like robot, not expecting such a projectile to emerge from a musical instrument, was a split second too late from short jumping once more to safety, and it took the rocket directly in the chest.

Pride landed clumsily back onto the earth, dropping his guitar to clutch his arm. A moment after he had fired the rocket launcher the Siege Joe had managed to get a hit on his shoulder. While it was barely a mere glance, the pain was still immense and the wounded area was glowing red, the outer layer having been completely melted off. That was far too close, he thought, but thankfully his aim never failed him... Yet.

His hounds began to bark. Sensing the two standard SA Joes approaching him from behind, his programmed reflexes immediately kicked in, and he whipped out two black pistols, firing them over his shoulders without looking. The bullets penetrated their visors and deactivated them instantly. The hounds growled and charged two times faster than cheetahs towards more SA Joes that were coming. Pride took the time to put his pistols away and retrieve his guitar. Calculating that there were many more Siege Joes in the area, he reckoned that he would need to utilize the rocket launcher more.

12 of the SA Joes quickly fell into formation, aiming at Pride in two rows, the first row kneeling to give the second a clear shot. A second Seige Joe stomped behind them, also preparing to fire at Pride.

At the same time the fourth of the four Seige Joes witnessed Pluto skyrocket out of the hole, readying his aim as he landed. The Shadow Joe flourished his bayonette, menacingly behind him, ready to close distance in a flash should the Seige Joe miss. As that Joe began readying his fire, the other began clawing his way out of the dirt, attempting to save his Jump for a more important task. It would not take the immence robot long to free himself.

Almost in synch, the two Seige Joes opened fire on their respective targets, as well as the other SA Joes.

The ten hounds struck, each taking one SA Joe and ruthlessly gnawing at their necks. Out of all ten, only one managed to fight back and shot his assailant point blank with his buster in shotgun mode. The two remaining Joes that were momentarily spared did their best to shoot the hounds off of their cohorts, and the Siege Joe assisted by firing its buster. However, he swung his arm across the entire group, attempting to to sacrifice the already doomed Joes to take care of the hounds. The hounds had insane reflexes even when occupied with tearing out their victims' throats, but even then two of them were mercilessly scorched by the flamethrower, along with all 12 of the Joes.

Pride wasted no time in running like hell away from the Siege Joe's plasma beam. "Damn it, how many of these are there?" He only had 9 rockets left in his launcher, and so he had to be sure not to let a single one go to waste. The Siege Joe before him was ready to jump away if he fired now.

Pluto did his best to dodge the shots from the SA Joes, but ended up losing a foot. As he tried to crawl away, the nearest Seige Joe grabbed him and carried him out of the colliseum, ready to destroy his head. Perhaps Pluto's advanced alien technology could be replicated...

Pluto knew there was no escape. Without teleportation or even basic mobilty he was screwed. And with communications blocked, he couldn't use his WiFi capabilities to transfer himself over the net.

(...but I can use the QPS still!) Pluto realised. He quickly sent out a signal to the Great Zodiac, uploading himself to the barely operating computer system aboard.

As the last of his code finished transferring, the crippled body that once contained WinterMan.exe exploded from a timed fusion cure overload, taking out the Seige Joe that held him.


Aboard the GZ, WinterMan realised the ship was abandoned. His friends wouldn't be getting back any time soon, and the warp core on the ship was barely operating due to lack of fuel. In fact, he had five hours before the computer he was in ran out of power and shut down.

He wouldn't be deleted, but like the rest of the computer code on the hard drive WinterMan would be inanimate, unable to move or even think until it was turned back on.

Unlike the QPS in the newer stardroid bodies, the Great Zodiac's transmitter was severely damaged. He quickly remembered that the range had been reduced to 300,000 miles. Fortunately that was larger than the Earth's circumfrence, so he contacted the others.

<Guys, can you hear me?> he said through the transmitter.

<Loud and clear.> Mars responded. <Where are you?>

<Inside the Great Zodiac.> Pluto said worriedly.

<Why so glum if you found a way out?!>

<No, you don't understand. I'm INSIDE the INSIDE.>

<Oh, no. You mean->

<I'm on our computer. I've got an hour and fifteen minutes of power left before the whole thing shuts down and I'm on backup. The battery will only last me another 15 minutes, and I won't be able to contact you.>

<*sigh* We'll be there as soon as possible, dude. Hang on.>

Pluto highly doubted that, but if the others didn't make it in time, he'd be out of commision for the rest of the war. IF the war ended in a good stance. If not, then who knows what could happen...


Jupiter realized the grave situation they were in. "Guys, I have to go find Pluto. See if you can hold off the other forces until I get back." Ignoring the other's protests, he activated his jetpack and flew as fast as he could out of the sewers and toward the top edge of the RPD's barrier. Once out, he could teleport to Dr. Cossack's fortress. But he'd have to be careful to stay up high to avoid being attacked by the Siege Joes.


"FRAK!" Mars cursed. <Jupiter, what the hell are you doing?! We're sitting ducks until that ENTIRE barrier is down! WE NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!>

<Stuff it, Mars! I'm going after Pluto!> Jupiter snapped back. Mars grunted angrily. This was not a good day. Not good at ALL.

"Now what?" Terra asked.

"We BOLT." Neptune said flatly. "I'm not sticking around much longer, we need to get the hell out of this barrier so we can leave!"

"I'm with you." Uranus chimed, then the remaining CG in the sewers made a mad dash in an attempt to get out of the RPD anti-teleport barrier while remaining underground. With each passing moment, Seige Joes could be getting closer for all they knew.


Wraith heard a voice on his radio pipe in again as he watched the RPD and Wily forces attack eachtoher and his own troops in the blackness, blind, outnumbered, and loosing.

"Sir," James said, "The CG members are fleeing, but Pluto has been destroyed, and 2 Seige Joes remain to combat Pride as well as Simon."

"Very good. Any other... important news?"

"Yes sir, Jupiter has taken to the skies. He intends to flee as well."

"I see. Send me his coordinates and flight diretion..." When Wraith got the coordinates he looked up to see a tiny trace of a figure in midair. "Alright, very good. Attention all Scissor Army troops. I need as many as 10 STA missles aimed at the CG member at the following coordinates. Fire.... now."

And with that, several SA troopers scattered about the city, but currently out of active combat, dropped to one knee and redied their uniquely equiped weapons. They fired their STAs at Jupiter, hoping to blow him out of the sky. The RPD wouldn't hesitate to open fire at him upon attempting to leave the area either, Wraith thought, but just to be sure he'd have them continue fire until he was destroyed.

Elswhere, the other Seige Joe at the colluseum freed himself from the debris filled hole and locked onto pride. He stomped into firing range, and decided that the two mini-tanks should attempt to trap Pride using their beams as a fence rather than fire directly at him. Simon, the Dark Joe in the area, called in a few more of his own Joe Variant, who were now on their way, unknowing to Pride. Using his superior agility and speed, as well as his special blade, he planned to rid Pride of his pack.

Also elsewhere, James and Judas continued to stalk the remaining CG members, waiting for Wraith to issue an order. It eventually came. "James," Wraith called, "Send an order for another Apistle to the Collosians: 4. Use it to block their escape route."


Jupiter could hear the horrid whistling of the STAs as they tore through the air with the intention of blowing him to smithereens. He knew he'd have to be quick and time his movements right to avoid a fiery fate. He kept climbing toward the top of the teleportation barrier, knowing that it was only a matter of minutes before they hit.

Even as the STAs neared closer and closer, Jupiter kept up his speed. "Just a little more," he thought to himself. It was only a few hundred meters between him, safety, and certain death. But instead of trying to make it out, he instead did something that noone would expect someone like him to do. He deactivated his thrusters, flipped himself upside-down, and turned them on, full speed, shooting him like a bullet between the STAs and giving him several precious seconds to attempt to escape while the rockets began to look for him again.

<Guys, I've got an hour left. Hurry up!> Pluto reminded them.


Wraith watched Jupiter's acrobatics from afar. The STAs, with their limited mobility, crashed into eachother, sending an explosive shockwave that sent Jupiter futher down. Wraith put his hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "Well..." Wraith mused to himself, "It seems that the agile one has strayed from the safety of numbers... It's quite dangereous for children to wander the Darkness alone..."

With that, he flourished his cloak and began walking towards the area that Jupiter occupied. The huge cloud of darkness moved away from the battlefeild and towards Jupiter's location, enveloping Wraith as it went along. The dark fog continued to quickly move forward and slightly up, as to catch Jupiter in its wake.

Meanwhile, the other CG members became aware of a loud, stomping noise on the streets above them. Somehow the Seige Joes had caught up faster than they had anticipated. The monsters "jumped" into the path in front of them, essentially creating a barrier with themselves. The two Dark Joes completed the barricade, prepared to strike at the first one to flee from the assault.

At the Colleseum, the two Seige Joes fired at pride, hoping to trap and kill him with their streams of plasma. Two more Dark Joes joined their friend, and the three collectively closed in with their blades to kill the 8 remaining hounds.


Jupiter caught a glimpse of the cloud of black fog that seemed to be tailing him. Anyone with half a brain would realize this was bad news, and Jupiter had more than half a brain. However, instead of trying to flee, he hovered in one spot and began charging his la- I mean, his jets, causing them to glow with a golden-yellow aura. When the mist neared him and prepared to lunge, he activated the jets and blasted several hundred feet away, nearly breaking the sound barrier in the process. Now, normally this would be thought of as god-moding, but as Jupiter inhaled the horrid scent of burning nitrogen, he could tell that his jets had been damaged, and on top of that, they were almost out of fuel. "Okay, no more screwing around. Time to blow this popsicle stand." With that, he sped straight upward as fast as his systems could safely allow. Obviously, whatever this thing was, it wanted him, dead or alive.


“Shit, now what do we do!?” Terra yelled.

“THIS!” was Sunstar's response. <Uranus, grab Mars and throw him at the Siege Joes. Mars, wait until your at point-blank range of the Siege Joes and then fire a barrage of missiles!>

<YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT!?> Mars said over the QPS.

<C'mon Renard, it just might work and it's not like there is very many options left on what to do!>

<Merr... Fine...>

Uranus threw Mars as he fired a barrage of missiles at point blank range of the Siege Joes.

They then waited for the smoke to clear hoping that it worked.

<Guys, I've got 45 minutes left. What are you doing down there?!> Pluto reminded them.

The Seige Joes all looked down at Mars landing like one looks at a grenade. They all raised their off hands in front of their vital spots, trying to protect themselves from the hail of missles. The smoke cleared, and they still stood, though much worse for wear. One was missing his off-arm, and the collective were dinged and chipped fairly well, some of them even having exposed circuitry in some areas of their body. Feeling no pain, they all dropped their stance and instantly pointed their busters at the offending reploid, and opened fire with extreme prejudice.

Meanwhile, floating formlessly in his darkness, Wraith swung his scythe just as Jupiter blasted himself away, barely missing.

He chuckled. "A very good meneuver..." Wraith mused.

He thought he might just loose this prey item. Wraith opened his cloak and fired a series of black, fireball-like projectiles at the airborne CG, hoping to strike him out of the air. His Dark Shots wouldn't do enough damage to Jupiter to significantly injure him, but the force of the blows might force Jupiter to slow down or descend enough to catch in the dark cloud again.

Even if he didn't hit, he thought, he'd grace the fleeing Jupiter's friends with his own presence.


Normally, when near-Napalmman sized Sniper Joe things are shooting at you, Sunstar would have said 'OSNAP!' before diving for cover. This time, however, rocks errupted from the ground in front of the CG and behind them, effectively sealing the Stardroids in if Mars and Sunstar didn't blast a hole straight up so they could escape.

Mercury went first with Neptune close behind to cut hand holds for the others. Uranus managed to squeeze up the hole and use his Gravity Twist to drag a rock into place to seal it before the CG collectivly ran for dear life, Mars and Venus dropping explosives behind them while Mercury lead the way.

"Now what?!" Sunstar shouted, holding his rifle ready should Seige Joes appear in front of them.


Pride leaped into the air, ducked, tumbled, and did whatever it took to avoid the streams of plasma from the two Siege Joes. They followed suit relentlessly, and Pride winced in pain as both of his shoulders were grazed more, a bit too close to the joints for comfort.

His coat armor was also beginning to fall apart. Sucking it up he took out his pistols, then fired thrice. Miss. Hit. Hit. The bullets penetrated one of Siege Joe's visors, effectively blinding them. It unintentionally flailed about its cannon.

The second Siege Joe was hit for a split second which provided enough of a distraction for Pride to pull out his rocket launcher. However, as he reached back for it, he was hindered by an intense pain in his shoulders. Something was wrong with them, and he didn't want to risk forcing them lest they break and fall off.

Unfortunately, the second Siege Joe had already been ahead of him on that. Another slice through his left arm and it had fallen off. Pride jumped to dodge the stream of plasma heading across towards the ankles, then fired at the visor to blind them as well. However, it threw up its arms just in time for the shots to clank uselessly on its protected armor. He needed another distraction...

And lo and behold, one of his loyal hounds, one of only three remaining that had defeated the Dark Joes, clamped down on the Siege Joe's cannon arm. The Siege Joe shook its arm violently to shake off the dog, before finally punching it with its other hand.

Stunned from the blow, the hound was helpless as it was melted into a puddle of hot metal, but its sacrifice was not in vain. Pride fired at the Siege Joe's eyes, and without it's attention on him it couldn't block this time. He held on to his pistol with his mouth, then reached down to pry his other pistol from his decapitated arm, placing it in its holster. Then, he beckoned his two surviving hounds to follow him, and they left the two Siege Joes, hoping that they didn't have backup sonar vision or something...


Jupiter quietly congratulated himself on his two outrageously quick maneuvers, but it was short-lived, as he caught sight of the Dark Shots trailing him. Now, he didn't know much about the person firing at him, but he did know that a darkness-based attack did have one weakness.

Jupiter made sure to watch his flight systems, which were weakening by the second, and pointed his right hand at the oncoming occult projectiles, causing electrical currents to play up and down his fingers. "I've only got a few good shots at this," he told himself. With a shout of "Magno Cannon!", he fired off a volley of electromagnetic blue bolts which began encircling the Dark Shots, preventing them from escaping the magnetic field, thereby negating any potential damage to him. Jupiter gave a mental heave, hurling the electricity-coated lumps of darkness in Wraith's direction. Without another thought, he continued on his course and hoped for a miracle.


The Seige Joes would have been enraged if they had emotions. However, instead they decided to call in for backup. All they needed was a Dark Joe or two to be their eyes in the darkness. They radioed their plight in, asking for a few SA troops to guide them back towards their prey. A few normal SA Joes gladly obeyed, rushing to their comrades aid while a few more coordinated their efforts to locate Pride agian, while another Dark Joe silently stalked out of sight of his own soldiers.

The other two Dark Joes, the ones after the CG, sliced through the stone barrier with their blades. the shoved the cleanly sliced stone out of the way in time to see the Seige Joes barrel through the barrier. They all collectively looked up at the hole made and gave eachother a mental nod. The larger SA troops lept upwards, making the hole bigger using thier strength and girth alone. The four giants shook the dust from their damaged frames, obviously still more than fit enough to fight. The two Dark Joes backflipped alongside them, showcasing their agility. With that they lurked to the shadows, leaving the suprisingly quick Seige Joes to chase down their targets.

Wraith easily avoided the return of his projectiles, even letting out his mocking and sinister chuckle. If Jupiter was to flee as such, it wasn't worth the effort of chasing him down. He could do much more damage elsewhere. His voice echoed from the black cloud like a megaphone. "Run! Flee, little lamb of God. Flee so your life may not be take this day. But your flight will only delay this... call to heaven. I have other matters to attend to. More... available prey. So run. Run from these horrors... Spare yourself from this... tragety as best you can."

With that, The cloud of Darkness fell to the earth like a waterfall, spreading like a thick mist. His new targets were the rest of the CG, made apperent as the flow of darkness started in their direction.


"OH SNAP!" Mars shouted, his eyes practically popping out of his head. "GUYS, TIME TO HAUL ASS!"

The rest of the Stardroids there turned to look, giving the same eye-popping expression as Mars, who quickly darted past Mercury and Sunstar.

"STOP FOR NOTHING!" bellowed the CG's resident demolitionist as he barreled through building after building in an attempt to escape. Mercury and Sunstar glances at each other before the lot of them followed suit shouting 'STOP FOR NOTHING!' as they charged through the city to escape the teleport sheild.


<Half an hour. Whatever is going on, you better step on it!> Pluto said worryingly.

Jupiter took one last glance behind him to check if Wraith was still tailing him, and realizing the contrary, he hoped that his teammates could handle it before zooming past the edge of the barrier and teleporting himself to the outside of the Great Zodiac. He stormed into the ship's bridge and typed out a message to Pluto, hoping to get a response. "ARE YOU THERE?"


"Great, now what?!" Sunstar demanded.

"WHEN I SAY STOP FOR NOTHING, I FRAKING MEAN STOP FOR NOTHING!" Mars bellowed, charging through the darkness. The rest of the CG didn't have any better ideas, then tried to follow. They managed to at least keep track of who was were because of the sound of their footsteps, but it would still be a while before they got out of the barrier. Mars glared harshly, wondering why the Scissor Army was going through all the trouble of trying to kill them when it was near-painfully clear they didn't want to stay.

(That's it, next time I see an RPD member, I'm givin' 'em a bomb to strap to General Cutman's face when they execute that jackass.) The walking light tank thought as he continued his charge out of the city.

As Mars charged through the darkness, with no light and no change of direction, he felt a searing pain in his legs just above the knees. The next thing he was aware of is the feeling of the pavement smacking into his face and chest as he clattered to the ground.

The sounds of his friends footsteps echoed from everywhere in the darkness, distorted by the nature of the fog. He had lost all feeling in his missing legs. His blind charge left him vulnerable to the agile and accurate Wraithman. Though he could not see, or even sense which direction Wraith was, he had an ominous feeling that Wraith was moving in for the kill.


The screen in front of Jupiter opened a window where WinterMan's face appeared. "Yeah, I'm here."

Jupiter thought for a moment, and then asked "So, how do I get you out of here?"

"You'll have to upload me to the old Pluto body. You know, the one I used before we got the second gen ones."

"Okay, I'll get the USB cable. But what do we do about your new body now that it's destroyed?"

"Don't worry, it's under warranty. Plus, we've got insurance too."

Jupiter plugged in the cord and transfered Pluto into the old-fashioned stardroid body.

"Ah, it's good to be back." Pluto said.

Jupiter was not so secure. "You do realise that thing doesn't have QPS, right?"

Pluto got a look on his face that just screamed 'Crap, I forgot how outdated this thing is!'

"Anyways, we need to get the others back home. Is there anything we can do?"

Pluto paused for a second, then said "If we use the older systems on this ship left over from pre-reform days, we could try to hack an RPD satellite and disrupt the barrier. I could only hold it for a few seconds, so you'll have to send a message to them to get out. And it'll take 10 minutes to set up the hack."

"We've got no other option." Jupiter replied. <Guys, we're gonna hack the RPD barrier. When I say so, teleport to the Great Zodiac immediately because we can only keep it open for five seconds."


A metool bobbled itself away as fast as its tiny feet could carry it towards Pride. "We've secured it, sir!" it yelled in a high pitched voice.

"Finally! Alright, let's get outta here!" Pride exclaimed eagerly.

One of the hounds went back to grab Pride's decapitated arm, and they dashed out of the Coliseum and he was relieved to find that he had escaped the enemy.

At least, that's what he thought.

The blind Siege Joes, aided by the directions of their compatriots short jumped right in front of him and fired their blasters immediately. Pride had no time to react, and unfortunately one of the Siege Joes' estimated aim melted off his shoulder, severing his last arm entirely.

About twenty standard Joes took this as their cue to ambush. As they all emerged from their hiding places, Pride realized that they were completely surrounded.

There was nothing he could do.

Plasma shots rang out at the entrance to the Coliseum.


I've almost got it..." Pluto said. "Just five more minutes..."

"Okay, but I hope you know what you're doing..." Jupiter responded.


"Go! Go! Go!" A Wily Sniper Joe yelled.

Wily's forces stormed the Scissor Army units, with a line of standard Joes firing plasma shots. The SA Joes turned to retaliate, and Pride, his hounds, and the Metool informant bounded away.

They sprinted through Rome with some SA units hot on their tail. The metool was too slow and fell behind to be slaughtered by the enemy, but Pride failed to notice. "Almost out of the barrier," Pride huffed, gritting his teeth. The hounds were far ahead of him, and 20 meters up they disappeared in a beam of light. Then, meters in, he did something he had hoped he would never do: he tripped.

With no arms to help himself up, he immediately attempted using his legs. However, they weren't responding. They had been shot.

Plasma bullets burned through the roads around him as he gazed at the border that was so close. Here goes nothing, he thought.

Dropping to his side he began to barrel roll towards the border, wincing every time he was shot. The Joes were dashing at him, getting closer and closer. Then, with a final push, he crossed the border and immediately willed himself to teleport out.


"Okay, I've got it!" Pluto yelled.

<Guys, now!> Jupiter blared through the QPS.

"Got it!" Sunstar and the remaining CG members said before teleporting out.

Mars grunted, luckily he'd managed to slide backwards and get hold of his severed legs before they were teleported out. The rest of the CG were in shock as they saw their friend member in pieces.

"Dude, what happened?!" Sunstar stammered. Mars grunted again as he shifted himself into a sitting position.

"Hell if I know. One minute I'm running through that black crap, and the next thing I know I'm face down with my legs sliced off!"

Pluto's face hardened. "How badly are the connections severed?"

"Not very. Gimme a set of tools and a blow torch and I can fix these things before we head back to Cossack's." Mars replied, inspecting his legs. He looked at Pluto's older armor. "I can probably hook up some of the undamaged parts from some of the fighters on your old frame if you want."

"Not now, let's get you fixed first." Jupiter stated. Mars sighed, then nodded in agreement.

"Hey, where is Mercury?" Pluto suddenly noticed.

"Oh, no. You don't think..." Mars trailed off worriedly.

<Mercury, can you here me?> Jupiter called out over the QPS.

<...eleport...malfunct...don'> was the corrupted responce.

The CG gave a moment of silence for their lost member. Zerkai would not be coming back, unlike Pluto who had a better stroke of luck.

"You better watch yourself Wraith..." Jupiter said angrily.

"...because next time we meet..." Mars continued.

"'ll BEG for death..." Pluto finished.

The three pseudo-leaders looked at the rest of the team, and knew they were all thinking the same thing.

Wraith had just made it personal.


Mercury spun around in the darkness, on edge. "Well, that was quite unexpected." Wraith said, his voice echoing. Mercury instantly turned on his personal lightsource, creating a 5 foot bubble of protection from the dark. "You were the only one I could catch, Mercury." He siad, calmly. "Do you fear the dark?"

"I'm not afraid of you..." Mercury spat, offensively. "You can tear me to shreds, but you'll never make me fear you."

"How exactly would I go about tearing to shreds a robot made mostly of liquid? Hm?" Wraith responded, sarcastically. Mercury readied his buster, ready for anything. Suddenly Wraith's footsteps echoed to his right, and then his left, and then almost everywhere. They returned to his right and he spun and aimed his Grab Buster in that direction, ready. Wraith's gastly cloak-covered figured shot out of the darkness like a real ghost, scythe raised and poised. Mercury spun around, tryint to catch him, but it was too late before Wraith split him in half with his sychte. Mercury just smired as he grabbed his own legs, forming into a puddle with the lightsource still sticking out of it.

He slithered away and reformed, barely dodging a few more of Wraith's scythe swings. Unable to shoot without leaving himself open, he gave Wraith a quick jab to the chest with his elbow. Wraith caught him, however, and slammed him face down on the ground and delivered an axe-kick to his back, causing him to slightly liquify and splatter on the ground. Mercury shook it off and melted completely, slithering behind Wraith and looking for an escape point. Wraith swooped down on the puddly, he butt of his scythe leading the attack. The spearpoint hit home as his lightsource was hit and broken, causing it to start flickering uncontrolably. Mercury poured himself around Wraith's ankles, starting to reform behind the monster.

He grabbed Wraith from behind with one hand, planning to shoot him with the other. However, his light blinked again and suddenly Wraith was gone. Dumbfounded, Mercury didn't notice him looming behind him until it was too late. Wraith slammed his hand into Mercury's head, digging into the circuitry and wiring that controled him. Mercury screamed in pain as his body started to become wracked with agony from this event. "Are you afraid of the dark now..?" Wraith asked, mock innocently.

"Like hell..." Mercury responded, indignantly.

"That's a pity." Wriath said, his foe's body partially melting beyond his control. A small puddle of Mercury's body started forming, and with one last yank Wraith stood holding Mercury's processor unit. He picked off a few "unnecessary" parts from it until he had what he wanted, his mental chip, the thing that held his mind and "soul". The Darkness subsided, revealing Wraith, Mercury's rapidly melting corpse, and the damages Seige Joes and their Dark counterparts. "All wounded Seige Units, return to base for repairs. I'm sure Mesmerman will be quite pleased to hear that he only lost one of his precious children." The 6 wounded Seige Joes left, leaving 3 on the battlefeild.

He dismissed the Dark Joes as well, save for the unhurt ones. Wraith decided that they would mop up the remaining opposing forces easily, given the huge and distinct advantage they had over thier opponents during most of the battle. Wraith looked down at Mercury's chip. "You were a good man." He mused, almost sympathetically. "It'd be a shame if you had to deal with the same, unbearable nothingness that I remember." With that, he slipped the chip into the darkness of his cloak.

He put his hand up to his earpeice. "Tell the General all went well. Rome is moments away from being under Scissor Army control. Cosmic Gladiators? They fled, save for two. Mercury is... out of commission perminantly. Pride was heavily wounded and fled too. Understood. I will finish up here and return to base immediately. Damages? I'm fine. One Seige Joe was killed, and 6 more wounded. out of the 10, 4 Dark Joes were killed, leaving 6. I'll need 6 replacements for them. Understood. Thank you. The humans? Kill them? There's hardly any left, just some stragglers in the chrurches. Oh, certainly not while they're in there. Yes it bothers me. I gave them sanctuary in the churches, and the moment they step foot out of one they die. Fine, but not in the churches."

He turned to one of his active Dark Joes. "Lead the humans out of the churches and send them to God in General Cutman's name." The Dark Joe bowed and left to relay the order. He stared off into the distance again. "I do so think I have a delivery to make to one 'Blizzardman'..." Wraith said, recalling Zymeth's allusion to his scientifically inclined friend.

"And so, Rome fell again..."



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