The Business of War

The Old Citadel Part 1

Scenario A
The SA vs the Cossack Faction

Location: Cossack's Citadel, Northern Russia

As far as the eyes could see, all was barren. An icy wasteland during this time of year, Siberia was an unforgiving zone the further north you went. It held near-Arctic temperatures, and winds that would cut through even the most well-prepared of men. It was one of the loneliest, most desolate places you could find yourself, native or not.

And, strangely, something interrupted the endless wintry desert. In the upper Northeast corner of this mineral-rich plain stood something from the country’s past. It was a rather massive fortress, erected sometime in the last five hundred years, its original purpose was now forgotten. Perhaps it guarded something or someone important.

Now, it once again had a distinct purpose. This was the cusp of freedom in the eyes of its current inhabitants. This was where the world would either maintain its freedom or die vying for it against the wave of mechanical terror that had gripped the world with a force never before encountered.

It was here in this stone-slab Citadel that Dr Cossack had called home for nearly a decade now, having renovated it into an impromptu fortress against his will to aid Dr Wily years ago. It was here where he rather unwittingly positioned himself as the coordinator of the “Cossackers”- androids who refused to buy into the Robot Police Force’s strict control over its own forces, or the robotic Scissor Army’s genocide of humanity.

Here was Cossack; stressed, overworked, and in need of sleep. He was alarmingly short on funds and raw materials to keep his own dwindling forces functional, and his core of rebels and outlaws lived on a day by day basis. However, like his namesake, he wouldn’t give up the fight. So much was to be lost and regained by merely refusing to die. So steadfast in his beliefs, that he allegedly muttered that he was the last sane man on the planet.

But now, even the barren wilderness that surrounded his Citadel seemed to turn against him. For weeks now, the Scissor Army was engaged in a campaign destined to find and eliminate Cossack and his outlaws, forming a fire blanket over even the most remote areas of Russia in an effort to pinpoint his location. Defend it as they may, it was inevitable:

The Scissor Army knew where their enemy was.

They were a force nearing twenty. On paper, that doesn’t seem like enough to decimate entire country, but for the past several weeks they’ve proven that paper numbers often lie. They were an assortment of different machines, each designed with a different approach on maximum carnage and destruction. Barely able to sit still, the group was bloodthirsty and ready to murder once again before their collective attention was snapped up by one of their most imposing members.

“Listen up, worms!”, the volcanic ash-colored Napalmman commanded attention. “Until the General himself arrives, I have full command over this operation!”

“Oh good. I thought someone had to have died to make you boss.”, the sword-wielding Captain Quint quipped.

“Watch your mouth, you useless Merc, otherwise someone here WILL die, so help me God.”, Napalmman threatened without any sign of lying.

“God?”, Gravityman’s voice rumbled as he casually leaned against one of the few pine trees dotted around the wilderness. “The General says he never existed in the first place. How can he help you?”

Napalmman wasted no time in storming to the supercharged gravity bender, shoving Android and Mercenary alike out of his way gruffly before shoving the barrel of his cannon into Gravityman’s face.

“Wanna get technical? Fine. Then until our General arrives, I’M your god. Don’t defy me unless you want me to prove that Hell really does exist even without an Almighty, belly crawler.”, the tank-like being rumbled.

“Stop wasting time ‘God’.”, Quint once again demanded attention. “I’m sure the General didn’t want you to throw your ‘heavenly might’ around when you should be getting down to business.

Then again…If you’re not feeling up to this, maybe I should assume command.”

Napalmman glared into Gravityman’s eyes as he lowered his cannon, with Gravity madly staring back, a large grin carved across his face. Slowly, Napalmman turned around, momentarily staring daggers into Quint’s visor before regaining his composure, despite nearly boiling over with rage.

“Okay…Here’s the POA (plan of attack)…”


“How do you feel, Artilleryman?” Dr. Cossack asked as he finished his repairs on Artilleryman in the repair bay.

Embarrassed. Humiliated. Pissed off. That was all Artilleryman could feel after Geminiman made a fool out of him in Toronto and left him to die. And having that pissant Dustman come to rescue him made the whole ordeal even more degrading. And to add insult to injury, he missed out on too many missions that he could’ve cashed in on. A cynical part of him felt that he should’ve been used these humiliations by now. But no matter how many times it happened, it never failed to create a slow-burning, festering resentment. Several Cossack bots including Blizzardman, Astroman (one of them anyway), and Diveman were in the room gawking at him. The latter of the three seemed drunker than usual, which was saying a lot. With all the dignity he could muster, Artilleryman focused on what was more important right now.

“Ready to be paid,” Artillery replied, holding out his hand expectantly. Diveman shot him a scornful look as he smoked a cigarette.

“For what? Losin' the goods to the SA? We could’ve gotten that for free!” Diveman chided. “Until ya start doin’ these things right, I say ya get squat.”

“Nothing?!” Artillery screamed. “Who died and made you king?! I deserve a hell of a lot more than that after being blown to smithereens!”

“Ya dropped the ball, Artie!” Dive angrily reasoned, putting his hands on his hips like he was dealing with a bratty child.

“Easy for you to say! You didn’t have Geminiman riding your ass!” Artillery retorted, raising his fist.

“Why the fuck were ya goin’ after him in the first place?” Dive demanded. “All ya had to do was stick to the job! A retard couda done it!”

“…I’ve got my reasons!” Artillery growled. He could’ve cared less about that stupid errand job they stuck him with. And over his dead body was he going to pass up a chance to kill his arch-enemy, even if he turned himself into some powerful monster again. It just made Artilleryman want to kill him more. But Diveman was making headway towards being added to his list, too. The punk simply sneered at him as he bitterly flicked his cigarette at him.

“Gimme a break, Inspector Gadget. Yer not even a has-been. Yer a never was! N’ expensive one at that!” Diveman sneered. “We can fight this without ya ‘f we have to!”

“No.” Cossack stated, shaking his head. Dive looked back at the doctor, disdainfully.

“Yer keepin’ tha bum?! Ya gotta be shittin’ me!” Dive protested.

“We can’t afford to let him go, now,” Cossack warned. Artillery smiled. Cossack had read his mind. If Artillery got booted, then RPD might learn Cossack’s location thanks to an “anonymous” tip. But as long as the money was still flowing, Cossack’s secret was safe with him. Diveman growled in frustration, but relented, taking a heavy drink from his flask.

“Now Artillery, you did your best out there, so you deserve something, I suppose,” Dr. Cossack reasoned calmly. “But with your repairs factored in, your original asking price is too much.” Dr. Cossack took out a pen and wrote something on a scrap of paper, and slid it towards Artillery. “Does this sound fair?” Artilleryman seemed to frown as he looked the figure over. He deserved more than what Cossack was giving. But he couldn’t kid himself. This was going to be his best offer.

“Better than nothing,” Artillery conceded. “Deal.”

“Good. Because I’ve got another mission for you,” Dr. Cossack said. Artilleryman perked up, hoping to make another quick buck. “There’s been a sharp rise of SA activity here in Russia,” Cossack explained. “Obviously, the SA’s preparing for an invasion here. But we don’t know when. Until we can devise a plan, I want you on patrol to keep a sharp lookout for any SA forces in our area. Clear?”

“As mud,” Artillery responded somewhat ruefully.

“Then get to it,” Cossack ordered. Artillery nodded, saying nothing as he bitterly marched out of the Citadel and took to the dark, snowy skies. He was angry to have another crap job dumped on his lap. Why the hell can’t anyone take him seriously?! For God’s sake, he’d brought the Mechanical Maniacs to their knees on a couple occasions! But on the bright side, he still had a future at Cossack’s, he was wiser from his battle with Gemini, and more importantly, he had money in his pocket. All he needed was the right opportunity to show those smug bastards who they were dealing with.

Much to Artillery’s surprise, that opportunity came sooner than he could’ve dreamed. Just beyond the snowy tree line, he could see several figures headed for the Citadel. One of them resembled a twenty-foot tall train spewing ash and coal, another resembled a walking black arsenal on treads. There was no mistaking it- the SA had found them out.

“That didn’t take long,” Artilleryman grimly mused. “Cossack, we’ve got company,” Artillery reported over his com. He was about to hightail it to Cossack, when he saw a familiar white crystalline figure off in the distance.

Geminiman…Suddenly, nothing else mattered anymore. His archenemy had returned, only this time, he wasn’t going to be as lucky. Artillery remembered every detail of his last encounter with the self-proclaimed “White Knight”. He didn’t want to waste time gloating. He didn’t want waste time wounding him. He just wanted the arrogant fool dead. The deluded Maniac was dead center is his sights. Artilleryman was ready for anything.

Meanwhile, Dr Cossack wasted no time in having his young daughter contact everyone within the Citadel en masse over the loudspeakers:

"Everyone, this is Kalinka." the girl spoke through the several loudspeakers throughout the Citadel. "Gather at the front lobby for briefing. This is not a drill, we are under attack. I repeat, we are under attack. The communication system will be updated so we can all talk to each other by using voice commands. State the initials of the team you want to reach, followed by the name of each specific person. To address an entire team, just voice their initials. Example: CC stands for Cossack's Comrades; CG stands for Cosmic Gladiators; TT stands for Technological Tyrants... " and the message continued on and on.

Immediately, those who were simply resting from their previous mission (that hadn't happened too long ago), where startled by the sound of impending doom...

All of the Robot Masters were gathered in the lobby as Kalinka began to speak on behalf of her father.

"We need all team members to please divide everyone into task force groups based on how well each Robot Master works together. We're going for strategy here, we need to work together if we want to survive this.”

The various Robot Masters began to chatter amongst themselves, trying to get decent teams formed.

Jupiter was looking around for someone who knew what he was doing when he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to face Tenguman.

"I'd be willing to bet Gyroman is out there." he said. "What say we go out there and kick his ass, together?"

"Heh, let's do it!" Jupiter agreed as the two Robot Masters got ready to take off.

T. Hawk stood next to CentaurGirl’s. "Hey, where's Blizzard?"

"T. Hawk." Regdar jumped at the Russian voice suddenly behind him.

"Don't DO that!" Regdar clutched his chest.

"Go and make yourself useful in the surrounding forest." Blizzardman said.

"Sure thing." The legendary gunslinger took off.

"Centaur, go help Slashman. He's trying to form a melee fighter group." Blizzard nodded over in the direction of the clawed robot.

"Okay." The one-woman cavalry unit trotted over to greet Slashman.

Blizzard himself walked over to Frostman. "Hey big guy." He said. Frost turned to him.

"Yeah?" He answered.

"Let's pair up." Blizzard said. "I Think Pirate and Neptune could use our help taking down Waveman and possibly Mega Water. They'll need help if they're going after both."

The two frozen juggernauts teamed up with the water hunter party. Meanwhile, Uranus was calling out to Pharoahman and Sunstar to help them crush Gravityman.

"Hey BB." Pharaoh Waved. "Wanna help us out here? We could use that shining personality of yours."

Bright Babe smiled nervously. "Sure.", she said as she walked over to the group.

Out of the corner of his eye, Blizzard spotted Toad Gal. "Excuse me for just one moment." Blizzard quickly walked over to Zapper.

"Hey, Fox." Toad Gal met Regulus half-way, returning his gentle embrace.

"You be careful out there, my love..." Blizzard whispered to her. "It's dangerous out there... I... I don't want to lose you..."

"I know, I'll be careful." Zapper replied. "And don't go hurt yourself again like you did back in Murmansk... I don't want to go through losing you twice..."

"I promise..." Blizzardman replied. Zapper kissed him on the cheek.

"I love you..." She said.

"I love you too..." Blizzardman replied.

As the two lovers parted ways into their separate groups, the various Robot Masters had finally sorted themselves into squads, each according to their natural ability. Drillman now assumed the role of key speaker, being as he was leader of the home team, and thereby somewhat of a spokesperson.

"Fellow Robot Masters." Drill began. "We are gathered here to fight off the great evil which threatens to kill off hope once and for all. This is evil unlike any other we have faced before in our lives. But we can survive this if we just put faith in each other. Look to your fellow comrades for support, and they will pull through for you. Give it your hardest. We're fighting for our very lives here, let's not fall prey to such a vile foe! You are my Comrades!"

The Robot Masters cheered with approval as they marched on to meet the enemy. They were going to fight the one army everyone was waging war against, yet each robot was surprisingly confident. They weren't going to go down without a fight, that was for sure.

The doctor himself, however, had obvious concerns. Maybe even doubts.

"I-I'll go to the control room to get things prepared." Cossack was already shaking and drenched in sweat as he headed for the exit. However, Astro interrupted him quite abruptly, grabbing him by the shoulders.

"Get a hold of yourself, doc." He tried to get the scientist to calm down. "We will get through this. Just go with the contingency plan and have faith in us." he then proceeded to give the doctor an affectionate hug. This took the man off guard, but did the trick of settling his mood... somewhat.

"Are ya through with the mushiness, Astro Boy?" Diveman questioned, once the doctor was gone. "What the hell do ya suggest we do with this potential mess?"

Blizzardman on the other hand, remained silent and deep in thought.

"For one, we should send our airborne units to do scouting while the doctor prepares the defenses." Astro replied, dismissing Dive's first comment. "Let's meet up at the front to decide our course of action. And let's hope Artillery manages to stall them long enough..."


Slashman looked at Swordman. "Sword, I fully intend for us to give it our all in battle. However, the plan doesn't go into enough depth. I think I know our true role in this battle. As decoys."

The other two were disturbed by this. Slashman merely laughed.

"Don't worry, here's what I have in mind. As far as the SA knows, Cossack is still with us. Thus, we have to put on a farce for them, make them think that we're guarding the actual doctor. That way, when they do find out that we're protecting nothing but the Citadel, Cossack and the others are long gone. It's called getting fooled by a fool. You two with me on this?"

He didn't wait for an answer. Already, his built-in sensor array was going off. Movement, just outside the Citadel, and it wasn't part of Cossack's forces. Wasn't shaped like any of the SA COs, either.

"Don't answer that now." he said hastily. "Something out there, probably a spy. Both of you, come with me!"

He started off on all fours, hoping that his assigned teammates would follow.


“So our plan is to simply run in head on to Cossack’s Citadel and lay siege upon it, Captain?” Geminiman asked in a rather impatient tone.

“Yeah. With the element of surprise in our hands we should be able to overrun their defenses in no time. You got a problem with that?” Napalmman grunted

The White Knight glared at the walking tank with his soulless voids of eyes. There was an apparent feeling of animosity between the two SA Officers as the large groups of overpowered oppressors were marching towards the Citadel. The White Knight, now having to follow orders from what he thought to be an uncouth brute of a superior was none too pleased to hear that he was not in charge of the tactical layout of this mission. Furthermore, Captain Napalmman was not trusting of his fellow officer, despite achieving two definitive wins for the Scissor Army and being entrusted with his own personal Order of ‘Holy Knights’, as he called them. The fact that the only reason he was on their side was all due to Mesmerman’s firm grip on his mind.

“I just think that if we were to launch a sneak attack, it would be best to do it from multiple sides rather than to simply apply brute force to a single area like some sort of barbarian.” The White Knight sneered causing the Captain to turn around and look the bishounen right in the eye with anger.

“You are following MY orders in this mission, so we will do things MY way, pretty boy! I will not stand for such disrespect towards the chain of command, understand?”

The White Knight simply laughed in the face of such intimidation before he made a slight bow and then voiced in a mocking tone, “Yes, Captain.”

The walking tank decided to not bother with the knight’s sarcasm and carried on his approach to the Citadel.

“With, the teleportation barrier set; the Cossacks are now trapped within their cozy little castle.” CrystalGirl laughed wickedly. “Now they can’t escape without our notice.”

“We must make haste then.” Quint added as the rest of his Mercenaries dragged behind the Ascendant Androids.

“Agreed. Remember, our mission to destroy all of Cossack’s resistance and gain access to the innards of the Citadel. However, we have not been permitted to kill the doctor just yet. That pleasure will be saved for our glorious general!”

“Onward! Kill now, for Elysium awaits!” Quint cried out, rallying the Mercenaries before marching forth.

Napalmman did not look too happy as the Mercenary leader had interrupted him but saved no time in increasing the pace of the Androids’ march towards the Citadel.

“Move like the wind, attack like fire… I suppose that works.” Geminiman commented as he followed suit in increasing the pace, catching up with CrystalGirl and Ballade.

“I look forward to working with you two lovely ladies.” He said as he gave the two girls a standard bishounen grin as he marched alongside them.

“There will be time for your own little sick fantasies later Geminiman,” Mesmerman’s voice sounded from within his head, “Right now, focus on the mission at hand.”

“Very well, the White Knight doth approach…” he grinned even more as he advanced further, but soon his expression faded as he looked up into the sky and saw something unexpected in the distance.

“You… you’re supposed to be dead!”

“Surprised to see me, Geminiman?” Artilleryman smiled looking down at the cluster of SA Officers approaching before aiming his cannon at an upwards angle. “I’ve been fully repaired just in time to find you approaching Cossack’s Citadel. Perhaps things are finally starting to go my way with my revenge… No more games this time Geminiman, this is where you will die!”

Artilleryman’s body suddenly shot downwards as he fired something into the air, the White Knight quickly realized what the former Wily Bot had just launched and his expression turned into pure horror. It was a Long Tom shell.

“Stop that shell from hitting the ground immediately! That thing could kill us all right here, right now!” he screamed out.

Artilleryman flew back up and laughed at his enemy’s peril. “I will see to it that you won’t leave Russia alive, Geminiman.”

Geminiman, you retarded yaoi reject! Napalmman cursed as the Long Tom shell plummeted back down towards the Earth, annoyed and astounded that Artillery Man was still kicking. Why the fuck couldn't the self-proclaimed "White Knight" slaughter some Crashman wannabe? Christ, Napalmman could've obliterated that loser in his sleep! Now they were all going to pay for Geminiman’s screw-up.

However, Gravityman and Stoneman were nodding at each other, as if they reached some unspoken agreement. Suddenly, a stone pillar shot up from underneath Gravityman, raising him until was almost eye-level with Chargeman. When the shell was twenty feet above Gravityman, it suddenly started slowing down. Just before it hit the dirt, the shell came to a gentle stop, then gently floated up in front of Gravityman. Pleased with himself, Gravityman sneered with delight as the shell floated just over his open palm.

"I think I'll keep this for myself..." Gravityman commented happily. Napalmman and CrystalGirl shot each other uneasy glances. Just what they all needed: a repeat of Johannesburg. As if it wasn't fun enough the first fucking time around. Goddamn Geminiman.

"THAT'S why you're not calling the shots, Almost-a-Lady!" Napalm snarled at Geminiman. "Alright twinkletoes. I want Almost-Crashman's ass on a platter. And do it right this time if you want to keep yer good looks," Napalmman barked. "Gyroman, you know the drill"

"Aye, aye Cap'n" Gyroman shot back as he took off towards the Citadel and begin his recon. Out of the corner of his eye, Napalmman could see a couple probes also racing off towards the Citadel. Sedulus must've been trying to take matters in his own hands. Just who the fuck did he think he was?! Did he forget who was running the show?!

"Congratulations, Sedulus. You just pulled guard duty" Napalmman congratulated over the com, receiving nothing but static in response.


Sedulus scanned the horizon, smiling in a friendly way, although the fact he always expressed this face made it seem sinister.

"It would appear as though the battle has already started." Sedulus began to observe. "It was a foolish notion for Captain Napalmman to order a direct assault on the Citadel. My analysis on the moral values of the different factions would lead me to conclude that the Armored Assassins have taken residence within that Citadel. Prior observations on their operating record combined with the research that I have gathered on the other major Cossack-faction Robot Masters points to a frontal assault being ill-advised, as they have exhibited a noteworthy ability to formulate effective combat techniques when pressed beyond their normal fighting limits."

Sedulus slowly sank to the ground, as he had to hover to get a good view of the Citadel. "Thankfully, Captain Napalmman was too busy in debating the logic of the situation at hand with Scissor Army Officer Geminiman to properly monitor my actions, allowing me to implement a more suitable plan as my function dictates."

Sedulus raised his arms and a mass of floating spheres began to hover from the cover of the trees. Each sphere had a crystal embedded in the center that looked like an eye. They slowly made their way into the surrounding area of Cossack's Citadel, hardly noticeable, as they stayed low to the ground while projecting images of the surrounding background to mask their presence.

"Now initiating reconnaissance operations to assist the General in creating his model environment." Sedulus remained where he stood as his probes slowly crept towards the Citadel in the hopes of eliminating one more obstacle to perfection.

Not too far away, another SA Officer evaluated his options against Napalmman’s orders…

Wraith loomed on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield and near Sedulus, only part his face showing in his black-as-night cloak. “I can feel the horror in the air.” He said, cryptically.

Wraith looked back over to the castle where his brother and his allies were standing their ground.
“And so it is that the Scissor Army gathers at the gates of Cossack’s Citadel, a bellowing storm of arrows and swords. So it is that the meager resistance of the castle walls crawl from their misery and hopelessness to do battle with the storm, ripe with the stench of doubt. The storm moves on, spreading death and decay to all it touches, and all life is extinguished in a flurry of metal and light. What is it that will happen? The tempest moves ever closer by the second to the foolish defenders’ walls. Shall this maelstrom of death breach their defenses and very souls, or shall they flee in terror in its wake? This I ask all of them in quiet inquiry and my answer is soon to be given. My plea? Run. Run little warriors, so long as you wish to draw out your wasted lives… or embrace the storm, and the life-giving waters it will cause to flow, and the new life that will rise from the barren ashes.”

Wraith looked down, at his fellow officers, most of whom were twitching with anticipation. He laughed to himself, and said,
“Then it is to be. Let no man here look to the sky and find God’s mercy bestowed unto him. Let no man’s prayers be granted. Let no words of mercy be answered, no words of confidence uttered, and no words of hope chanted.”

And with that, he retreated to the shadows, practically melting into the void. He had a brother to find and save from his stupidity. He lurked through the shadows cast by his fellows and the grand castle itself.


The team of Pharaoh, Bright, Uranus, and Sunstar headed out to the terrace to scope the surrounding area.

"Aright, here's the plan." Jade turned to his posse. "We can't afford to let Gravityman near the Citadel. The General probably isn't gonna let him use too much juice since it'll be hard for him to confirm Cossack's dead if he flattens the whole place in one flick o' the wrist. But he can still keep this battle tilted in the SA's favor as long as we let him be, so we're taking him out ASAP."

Jet looked a little nervous. "That was a tough battle we had with him last time. Will we be able to do it with just the four of us?"

"That's why we have a secret weapon this time." Pharaoh motioned to Uranus. "How do you feel about putting your own gravity powers to the test, big guy?"

"Well, I don't think my powers are quite as strong as his, but I'm willing to give it a try." The enormous Stardroid shrugged.

Pharaoh nods. "That's why we're not sending you against him by yourself. We just need someone with a way to counter those Gs of his." Pharaoh comforted, then turned to Bright. "Jet, we'll need you to stick to a support role here. Gravs can't attack what he can't see, so keep him busy with your brand of million-watt sunshine."

BB laughed quietly, "O-Okay, sounds good. I'll try not to let you down."

Pharaoh smiles. "I know you won't." He looks over to Sunstar, the powerful prototype Stardroid. "You and me will be the primary attack force. While Jet and the Brahma bull there keep his threat to a minimum, we attack the guy with everything we have. Remember, he can still crush anyone around him so don't get in close. Use your best energy attacks that he won't be able to stop with his gravity powers. All clear?"

Shift nodded.

"Remember, teamwork is gonna be the key to beating him. Stick to the plan and we can win this. Everybody got it?"

The other three all silently nodded in agreement.

"Excellent. Then what are we waiting for? Let's go hunt us an Android!"

Elsewhere, Searchman had headed to another terrace of the Citadel, from which he could see the Army without being shot back. He focused his eyes ...


Quint was here. At the thought of what he would do to his "brother" soon, he felt a sudden rise of Evil Energy, which he promptly stopped. Now was not the time to lose his mind.

He opened the communication channel.

"AA Tomahawk. Do you hear me ?"

"Loud and clear, Searchman. What's the matter ?"

"Suggestion : we take on Quint. Buy some time to the others for now. Once he gets in my range, I'll contact you back."

"Roger. T.Hawk, over."

The two-headed sniper took one of the secret exits of the Citadel. He thanked his idea of repainting his armor parts to a snow-themed camo. Once he was perfectly hidden, he checked his weapons ... and waited.


Quint was looking at the fight between Artillery and Gemini from the distance. He had to admit his “fellow” mercenary was faring well so far.

"Too bad you didn't join me as a co-worker..." he muttered, a grin on his face.

Taking his focus back on the battlefield, he opened a line with his own Mercs.

"Here's the plan: Buster Rod, Enker, stay grouped. We'll need a shield and explosions to distract the Cossackers from the bigger units."

"Yes sir !" they replied in unison.

"Ballade, Punk, try to break those walls down. Don't hesitate to break your opponents down as well."

The two Killers didn't reply, but Quint knew they got the order.

"What about me ?" asked Mega Water.

"Protect Waveman."

"What ? But-" complained the aquatic Merc.

"No "buts". Follow the orders. Quint, over."

And for me ... Well, let's see who I run into.

He carried on, ready to kill Cossackers in the name of the General.

In the shadow of the Citadel’s outer walls, Geminiman was quick to follow Captain Napalm’s orders as he spread out from the rest of the SA officers and headed straight for Artilleryman whom was still flying up above. His appearance was drastically different now, due to Cossack’s low budget, use of salvaged parts and overall lack of knowledge on the mercenary's build, Artilleryman was sporting a new look. While his color scheme was the same, he seemed skinner and slightly taller than his previous incarnation and even his old Crashman helmet had been replaced with something that resembled a Scissor Joe’s head although it still maintained a small fin of sorts, but the most obvious change was the addition of a set of wings on his jetpack, a creative twist from the Russian doctor, no less. “Back in Toronto, you fired that Long Tom Cannon and blew yourself into pieces. How could you possibly be alive after that?”

“Surprisingly enough, my head was still intact after the explosion. So once it got recovered, Dr Cossack outfitted me with a new body, while it may not be as sturdy as the one Wily had given me, I’ve found that it is significantly lighter and easier to move in.” the mercenary demonstrated this by zipping past the approaching White Knight while firing several blasts from his Pyro Cannon at him, Geminiman leapt out of the way and retaliated with several plasma shots from his arm cannon but the airborne Artilleryman gracefully maneuvered around the blasts and smirked back in his longtime foe. “The downside to all of this is that it all came out of my paycheck! You cost me a lot of money back then in Toronto, so now I will have you pay it all back in full.”

The White Knight observed his surroundings; they were not in his favor at all. There was not a single surface that would reflect his laser into forcing Artillery’s movements, and due to the surrounding snow he could not use his cloaking ability due to the footprints he’d leave behind. He hated to admit it, but Artilleryman had an overwhelming advantage over him now.

“This time, I will make sure you are dealt with properly. By the end of this you will be just as dead as Multiman after I blew his head off at Cape Canaveral!” the Twin Terror remarked only to be met with laughter.

“You think you killed Multiman? That’s just great! I’ll tell you one thing Gem, Multiman cannot die. Did you think he’d send all his clones into the battlefield? No, unlike you, since he only needs one alive to fully survive, he always keeps one safe and sound at Skull Fortress, making it impossible for him to ever be killed in combat! Face it Geminiman, you’re incapable of killing your enemy properly!”

Geminiman was annoyed beyond belief. Not only had Artilleryman survived his encounter in Toronto, but Multiman had also survived at Cape Canaveral, not to mention Woodman also miraculously revived after getting hit by the Celestial Dance of the Gemini back at Kalingrad. All his proud moments of battle had just been dashed. Sure, he was able to conquer the cities with a definitive victory, but he had failed to kill a single commanding officer permanently. How was he going to defeat Shadowman if he couldn’t even rid himself of Artilleryman? Something had to be done. His pride had been torn once again, but this time he was going redeem himself and he had to do it by himself, with no help from the rest of the SA. Artilleryman was his target and his alone.

“I swear that I will turn that new body of yours into nothing but charred remains, Artilleryman. I will kill you in ways that you couldn’t even imagine.”

“And how exactly are you going to do that when I’m all the way up here, and you’re all the way down there? With no walls to bounce your lasers off of you can only fire them directly up at me, and with my new body I can evade any direct attack you send my way. Face it Gem, you’re not going to win this time.”

Artilleryman then proceeded to launch a barrage of missiles down into the ground and cause several explosions around the White Knight, covering him with smoke and concealing his vision. Geminiman tried to search around for his target but the smoke was so thick that he could not see past his hand. Soon the sound of Artilleryman’s Pyro Cannon could be heard and fireballs from all directions shot past his face. He was toying with him.

The mercenary robot sneered from above with his targeting visor locking on to the White Knight within all the smoke. He was winning this time, without a doubt. He circled around the smoke once more and launched even more fiery death into the cloud, but then to his surprise he saw a bright light blast through the smoke and go right past him forcing him to quickly divert his flight path. He looked down and lo and behold, the White Knight was standing there now free from his cloudy prison, grinning back at his old rival.

“A very well thought out plan, Artilleryman. However I will not be outdone just yet.” The Twin Terror spoke as he quickly threw a clone into the air with all his might with the intention of colliding into the airborne mercenary.

“You seriously don’t think you can knock me out of the air that easily?” he laughed as he evaded the incoming clone but then heard a familiar sound of a laser being fired. He looked down to see the laser being fired from within the smoke and into the clone positioned outside the smoke with its shield up, the laser then bounced into the direction of Artilleryman.

“Cunning bastard…” Artilleryman muttered before attempting to change direction again in order to dodge the laser, the blast was so large that he couldn’t continue flying backwards, he had no choice but to descend, and then he saw it. The clone that was thrown into the air had managed to line himself perfectly with the descending Artilleryman and had his laser pointing right at him.

“And now you’re perfectly aligned for my most graceful performance…” the White Knight smirked and fired another laser straight at Artilleryman. In quick response, the mercenary launched several more missiles around him and fired his stun laser through the giant beam of light heading towards him hoping to at least immobilize one of the clones and cover his tracks immediately before he could try maneuvering his way out of this attack. However he was not fast enough and in the process of changing his flight path again, the laser had grazed him and blown off a chuck of his leg.

“Damn it, that’s more damages coming out of my paycheck! You’re only going to make him worse on yourself Geminiman!” he yelled as he flew out of the dust cloud, passing the falling stunned clone on the way up whom gave him a bitter glance and then positioned himself high up in the air once again.

“I think a nice change to the terrain is in order.” Artilleryman remarked as he switched his arm cannon into particle beam mode and charged up pointing down below to where his targeting visor told him Geminiman was.


Of the various Cossack troops formed, the aerial "team" was the first to be dispatched. Jupiter was worried they were only two of them. Well, at least Gyroman seemed to be the only airborne SA agent...

"Don't underestimate this guy." Tenguman warned. "The Ascendant Androids are robotic monsters..."

"Right." This only made Jupiter even more nervous.

As they circled above the Citadel, they caught a glimpse of the approaching horde of robots. Signs of a battle were seen near the Northern wall... it was probably Artillery's doing.

"Take a look around, see if they're not approaching from any other direction!" Tenguman told Jupiter.

With keen eyes, Jupiter scanned the barren stretches of snowy Earth below him.

"All is clear!" A few seconds were enough for them to confirm that it was only a frontal assault.

"TT: Astroman." Tengu voiced out loud. "Naop, they are engaged frontal assault..."

Just then, the sound of what seemed to be a chopper was heard. Tengu and Jupiter turned around to face their opponent...


"Understood." Astroman replied through his com link. "Guys, it's time to send out our heavy-duty units!" he ordered the people that were still in the lobby. "The enemy is relying on an all out, frontal attack. Try to hit them from the distance, and give us cover fire while we do our massive attacks! Melee units remain close behind the heavy-duty units, and guard the Citadel at all costs!"

And with those words, everyone else in the Citadel got moving. As Astro himself was heading out, he almost bumped into one of the doctor's old colleagues taking refuge within the old fortress. "Vladimir? What the hell are you doing here? Go join the others!" he shouted at the old man, who did an apologetic reverence. "Drill! Please, could you escort Mr. Chevchenko?" he asked the CC leader before he headed for the escape team's location.

After this, Astroman joined AstroChan and Toad Gal outside of the Citadel. "Okay, girls, let's get ready to..."

The TT leader was interrupted by another incoming transmission. "TT: Astroman, the motion detector gun turrets have spotted a camouflaged threat near the Citadel’s perimeter. One has already been taken down. Just thought I'd let you know." reported Pluto, who was keeping an eye on the defensive systems.

"Damn!" Astro cursed. "Spies..."


"What a shame, comrade Sedulus..." a voice was heard from behind the SA officer, just as a cloud of purple smoke materialized. It was Mysteryman, and behind him, a group of 5 odd-looking Joes that had recently become known as his personal "Troupe". They all sported the same color scheme in their uniforms, a distasteful green and purple combination. "It seems your plan has backfired on you."

"Hmm... It would appear so. However, only a few of my surveillance units have been taken out of commission. As of this moment, there are 30 probes still in operation." Sedulus smiled back at him.

"Well, I guess I should thank you. Thanks to your Crystal Eyes, one of my agents has already infiltrated the Citadel." Mystery confessed, while his men chuckled in unison.

"I am aware of your entry into the Citadel." Sedulus said calmly. "I would like to inquire how you were able to infiltrate the defenses with a larger and more readily visible unit such as a Scissor Joe."

"Oh, yes... You all seem to forget that I am a Cossack robot by birth. And while the old man took the time to get the location of his fortress out of my memory banks, he didn't bother to remove many other bits of useful information." the cloaked robot explained. "You see, there's a surveillance system all around the Citadel. And while you little toys were able to be undetected by the cameras, the motion sensor weapons were a different matter. So my agent took advantage of this, and while the gun turrets were focused on your toys, he made an entry."

"It would appear as though I was in error in calculating your ability to formulate competent military maneuvers under demanding circumstances." Sedulus's face had retained its smile the entire time, not in the least phased by Mystery using his eyes to gain the advantage. "Judging by your operating record, I expected something less efficient by design. You have had several notable failures on your record, one of which was a near-fatal encounter with my creator, Blizzardman of the Armored Assassins."

Mystery clenched his fist. "Blizzardman... created you?" He snarled.

Sedulus nodded. "Yes, he is quite remarkable when it comes to mechanics and programming. I was designed to look after the Flying Fortress, keeping it in a constant state of perfection as defined in my programming." Sedulus turned towards Mysteryman, still smiling.

"You underestimate me, comrade. Even our 'beloved' captain was unable to notice my agent as he went by his team..." Mystery emitted a maniacal laughter. Mystery was masking some indignation at Sedulus's lack of frustration at being outclassed, and it especially irritated him to have his failures brought up.

"Oh, I have also calculated that there is a 33% chance that the Cossack's Comrades’ leader, Drillman, may be planning to tunnel Dr. Cossack out of the barrier, as they have no other suitable alternative at the moment. It is more probable than any other plan so far according to my calculations."

"Hmm..." Mysteryman thought about it. It did seem likely... "Thank you, Sedulus." He said after giving it some thought. "I'll have my spy look into it."

"I hope that you continue to deviate from your normal performance record, as observations would indicate a strong tendency for overconfidence to alter your judgment, thus jeopardizing the success of the mission." Sedulus turned back the Citadel.

Mystery gritted his teeth. He hated to have flaws pointed out. He'd show Sedulus.


"DM: Slashman" Astroman commanded. "What is your situation?"

"We've located another of those crystal spheres. It has already tasted the metal of my claws. They are very sneaky and well camouflaged, though. We had to rely on infrared vision..." Slashman explained through the com link.

"Nice going. We just spotted another one escaping from the gun turrets and launched an attack in it's overall direction, managing to hit it. You should try that if it gets difficult. Astroman over and out!"

"Naop, I've done what you told me." Toad Gal came running towards the pair of Astro robots. "The first SA grunts to come this way will be greeted by a shower of acid rain."

"Great! Now let me check on the escape team... TT: Groundman. What's your situation?" Astro asked through his com link.

"Man... I'm already digging our way out since the alarm started, but..." a lot of noise could be heard on the background, obviously because of the drilling. "A few of Cossack's colleagues haven't joined us yet, they stayed behind because one of them is taking a lot to get out of the bathroom. Drill is waiting for them."

"What?!" Astro shouted. "There is no time for that! Let me talk to Drill... Naop over and out."

AstroChan and Toad Gal gave him a worried look. "No need to worry, I'm sure it's just one of those old dudes dealing with incontinence. CC: Drillman, what the hell is going on? Get that man out of the toilet!"

"Roger that, Naop, I'm already on it." Drill replied. "Mr. Chevchenko! We have no time to lose, I'm coming for you!" Astro could hear as Drill knocked on the door. Then the door was opened, and there was silence for a moment.

"What happened?!" Astro was getting impatient, he started fearing this would be a trap.

"Nothing, really. He came out on his own, we're already moving out. Drillman over and out!"

"Gee... these old folks..." Astro wasn't left with a lot of time to ponder on the situation. The SA had reached them, and the gun fire had started. The heavy-duty guys had begun their preventive attack...

Crawling next to the toilet, and old Russian scientist gasped as life escaped him. The blood pouring out of his throat, which was slit open from ear to ear. Doctor Vladimir Chevchenko was no more...


A blizzard had moved in over the Citadel. It was something that would be lethal for any human to fly in a modern plane, let alone a chopper.

Yet, casually, Gyroman stayed aloft a few feet before the pair of Tenguman and Jupiter, his arms folded in front of his chest as his body made minor adjustments to compensate against the wind.

“So.”, he shouted over the wind and his own engine, barely heard by the two Cossackers. “They sent you two up here to do…what, exactly?”

“To keep a scumbag like you from firebombing our place!”, Jupiter retorted.

“Ha ha…You think so? Sounds to me like they’re just trying to get rid of you guys by sending you on a suicide mission.”

“The hell are you talking about?”, Tenguman interjected. “You’re the one who’s out numbered and outclassed, genius!”

“Do I look worried?”, Gyroman commented snidely.

“No, but that’s probably because you’re a friggin’ idiot!”, Jupiter countered.

“An idiot who’s already had enough time to survey your entire Citadel! Now, we have just as much of an advantage here as you do!”, he claimed.

“Yeah, right!”, Tenguman snorted. “Man, we LIVE here! You think a quick fly by will tell you everything that we know?”

“It’ll tell me enough, let’s just say.”

“Jup, this guy’s an amateur! Let’s blow this jerk out of our skies!”, Tenguman commanded.

Gyroman began a low laughter, unheard by the other two up there with him as he silently sent a file to his commander below. Methodically, the safeties from all of his sidewinder missiles clicked off, and his machine guns chambered their first of many rounds to be fired that day…

Back down on the battlefield, something beeped in Napalmman’s mind, alerting him to a message just received. His vision now split between a live feed and the file, he was pleased to find that Gyroman, despite encountering the enemy high above, had finished his recon, and had sent him a texturized map of the area.

And while this made things a little easier for the infinitely enraged SA Captain, he still had to contend with other issues down on planet Earth.

Out of the corner of his eye, Napalmman noticed Punk and Ballade marching towards the Citadel. Christ, couldn’t these retards wait for orders?

“Where the hell do you think yer going?!” Napalmman barked over the com. “Report back to me ASAP. You too, Duchess and Houdini,” Without saying a word, the two brain-dead Mercs along with CrystalGirl and Mysteryman started falling back towards Napalmman.

“What are you doing?!” Quint demanded. “We need to attack now while the Cossackers are still off guard!”

“Hush sweetie, the adults are talking,” patronized Napalmman as he turned back to the gathered troops. Infuriated, Quint was about to draw his useless, pogo-stick thing, only to find himself staring down eight different launchers trained on him.

“Don’t even try, shrimp,” Napalmman warned. “You’re hanging on by a thread, and the General’s not going to miss you. ‘Til you and yer shit eaters stop bringing us down, you’re my bitches.” Several seconds passed as the captains stared each other down, barely flinching. Eventually, Quint resentfully disarmed, and Napalm turned his attention back towards the shitbags he summoned.

“Now listen good, you puddles of eel piss, you. Sedulus and I are gonna form a perimeter 200 yards away from the Citadel. If you see Cossack or any of his other meatsacks make a break for it, kill them on sight. Ignore any fleeing commie-bots, and take prisoners if they offer themselves up,”

“Guard duty?” Mysteryman scoffed. “I’m capable of better than that.” Steam shot out of Napalm’s vents.

“Luckily for you, I want you to keep mindfucking these commies from your position. So you get that for free,” Napalm retorted. “Like I said, nothing fancy here, just a frontal assault. We’re powerful enough to stand up to whatever these losers throw at us. Once the Citadel’s softened up, Enker, Shrimp, Spade, Buster Rod and Team Watersport will keep the General company as he storms it. I’ll provide cover fire from my location throughout the battle,”

“What about Geminiman?” CrystalGirl asked, nodding towards the pompous pretty boy as he fought the merc against the wall of the Citadel.

“Fuck him,” Napalmman dismissed. “Super Stud should be able to get himself out of this mess. Or he won’t. Either way, he’s getting what he deserves,” Napalmman snidely reasoned. “But if he pulls through, he’s stuck with guard duty. Ya hear that, Fabio?!”

“Guard duty?! You-“ Napalmman switched off his com channel to Geminiman. Napalm wasn't interested in arguing the point with Bishie-Boy. They’ve wasted enough time already.

Artilleryman was about to fire his particle beam when the Gemini Laser he had just dodged suddenly shot back up in his direction.

“Damn his bouncing laser!” he screamed out before turning away to dodge the laser at the same time as he fired the beam of light, creating a large trench into the ground which melted a large amount of snow in the process. While his attack had missed its initial target, it had done damage to some of the terrain in front of the rest of the SA. However, this did not seem all too significant to the overpowered oppressors who continued their storming of the outer walls.

“Guard duty…” Geminiman muttered under his breath, “That oversized brute is placing me on guard duty? How dare he disgrace me with such a task!” Of course, that was for later. The matter at hand was still Artilleryman, who still had the advantage of an open field and being airborne. If he could force the mercenary on to the ground, then he would be a much easier target to hit. The question was “how”, though.

The smoke from all the missiles had been a nuisance for the White Knight. It had completely obscured his vision, leaving him no idea where an attack would come from except for the clues left by the sound of Artilleryman’s jetpack and cannon, and to make matters worse, Artilleryman’s accurate aim seemed to indicate that his targeting system could see through the smoke when he had him pinned. Even if he were to cloak himself, the smoke would distort the light manipulation of his cloaking device and his footprints also left a dead giveaway. He needed to get out of the smoke, just long enough for him to regain his bearings.

“This shouldn’t be that difficult… It’s only Artilleryman! He hasn’t even got a decent build anymore. Neither he, nor any other robot present in this battlefield can match up to my caliber…” the White Knight thought to himself. “I’ll show them… I’ll show them all!”

Determined, Geminiman threw a clone of himself in a random direction. He knew from before the fight occurred that they were in a reasonably open field, so there wouldn’t be many obstacles or pitfalls that might endanger him if he threw his clone too far and so he got the clone to split off and throw another clone which cleared him out of the smoke. Artilleryman did not let this action pass his radar and quickly re-aimed his cannon at the clone outside of the smoke and fired a stun laser at the clone, freezing him in place just outside the cloud of smoke. However, the White Knight had already anticipated that, as he had shifted his mind into the paralyzed clone he could not see outside the cloud and knew immediately how to position his clones. Soon, four more Gemini clones had appeared outside the smoke screen.

“I have you now, Artilleryman…”

Two of the clones fired a laser at two of the other clones which had activated their shields causing them to bounce off them and head back into the smokescreen. The mercenary robot just laughed at the former Maniac’s tactic. It was easy to figure out what he was doing- he was trying to use the smokescreen as a cover so he wouldn’t know which clone the laser will eventually bounce upwards from and head towards him, causing him to dodge that one and force his movement into the next laser. But with all the clones outside the smokescreen all he had to do was look for how the clones would change the angles of their shield to determine which ones were going to come in his direction and in what order. From that, he would be able to dodge both lasers with ease. Or so he thought…

Finally, a laser shot upwards into the sky… From the center of the cloud of smoke. The mercenary had been paying too much attention to the outside clones that he had forgotten there was still one within the smoke.

“Damn it, the bastard purposefully left a flaw in his plan as a distraction!” Artilleryman thought as he turned his attention to the incoming laser in order to dodge it. The Gemini clones reflected the second laser to where Artilleryman was moving. But the laser was still too slow for the airborne robot and he managed to duck under the intersection point of the lasers and looked down to laugh at his adversary, only to find that he was no longer there.

The lasers had then passed over, revealing the White Knight plummeting straight towards Artilleryman, unleashing a shooting star punch right in the centre of the mercenary’s chest.

“Those lasers weren’t meant to hit you; their actual purpose was to mark the point in which I was drop down from the sky so I could personally break you and see the expression on your face when you finally realize that you are simply inferior.”

However, Artilleryman did not show any sign of anger or frustration, only an evil grin as a small compartment at the base of his fin opened up and a tiny dart fired into Geminiman’s face causing him to reel back a slight bit as the two robots crashed into the ground.

“I got you…” Artilleryman laughed as he slowly rolled over and picked himself up from his crash landing. The White Knight stood up clutching his face although angered; he was oblivious to what had just hit him.

“Argh, you shot me in the face again! Damn you…” Geminiman was about to finish his sentence when he suddenly went down on one knee and felt a surging pain inside him. “What the hell did you do to me?”

“A little secret weapon I had,” The mercenary sneered, “it’s a virus that quickly eats away at the life of whatever trash is foolish enough to get hit by it has left to offer, slowly, and painfully.” Artilleryman watched as Geminiman finally collapsed into the snow before he activated his jetpack, which was still functioning despite the crash landing, and flew away from the fallen White Knight. “I win this time Geminiman, your defeat came with your overwhelming arrogance. Now you will finally suffer a long and painful death that I had promised you.”

He turned to see the rest of the SA clawing away at the Citadel. Before activating his communicator with Dr Cossack, “I hope those reinforcements are coming soon, Doc, I can only hold off so many of them on my own.”

Geminiman was feeling the pain of the virus coursing through his body. Was this how he was going to die? No, this was ridiculous. He couldn’t die from something so trivial, from someone he deemed unworthy. This was not how it was going to end! And yet, he felt like he was beginning to slip away. It was all so pathetic, falling in a battle in which he was reduced to the lowly job of guard duty by a stupid, bombs-for-brains, oversized tank and done in by a cowardly virus deployed by a Robot Master reject. He was in the Scissor Army so he could get the respect from robots that humans did not give him, to be worthy of SparkChan’s attention and to finally show up Shadowman and prove his worth, and yet his end was approaching, and he felt that he had gotten none of that. He was beginning to feel… different, there was no other way he could describe it. His mind had seemed to have wandered as it was inching closer and closer to death and feelings of self-doubt were beginning to surface. Was this really what he wanted? Was the Scissor Army really his answer? Then a familiar voice echoed in his head.

“We’ll be having none of that, Geminiman. You still have plenty of worth left in you so it would be a shame to lose you right now.”

Suddenly, the pain from the virus was fading. Mesmerman had done… something to cure it. He was still feeling weak, but he could feel his strength slowly come back to him.

“I shall remove all self-doubt from your mind. I don’t want you blundering again, or perhaps next time I’ll remove something more precious from your mind…” the malevolent entity warned the White Knight as he stood back up and brushed the snow off his chrome plating, looking for Artilleryman.

“I must redeem myself…”


Static filled Napalmman’s ears, and soon, so did a voice he was much accustomed to.

“Captain.”, came his General’s calm, tenor-like voice. “As much as I appreciate you taking command of this mission while I wrapped up a few loose ends elsewhere, I’ll be taking control from here on out. Things need to run MUCH more smoothly.”

“Sir…Yes, sir!”, Napalmman responded with only the slightest hesitation.

Cutman was walking calmly towards the Citadel a few yards away from the bulk of the SA, his hands behind his back casually as he strode amongst the snow, turret fire blazing across the snow fields at his feet, barely missing him in the process. He now had a few new additions to his outfit, with pockets adorning his legs, and a satchel bag on his side, held up by a shoulder strap.

“Hmm, I was hoping for a significant breach in Cossack’s outer defenses by the time I had shown up…”, he lamented to Napalm in front of the other Officers.

“Sir, we were just getting to that.”

“And what’s this? A straight forward, full frontal assault?”, the rusty skull visage challenged his second in command’s decision. “It would appear I have made a grave miscalculation in giving you so much pull here, Captain. Time to correct that mistake…”

Cutman leapt atop a nervous Napalmman to properly address his troops.

“We do this MY way, now.

Gravity and Stone, you shall open up breaches on the North and West walls, respectively. According to Gyroman’s recon data, there are significantly fewer obstacles for our friends, the rats, to hide behind there.


With a nod and a small salute, as well as a sneer from Gravityman to the embarrassed Napalmman, the two dutifully departed.

Cutman continued.

“Waveman, even you must realize your diminished usefulness here in the cold. It would only be a matter of time before you met your end.”

“Impossible! Look at all of this liquid, just waiting to be freed!” the watery mess retorted.

The General sighed. “You’re ignoring your own limitations. I thought I programmed the lot of you better than that. Well, let’s remedy this situation. Napalm, if you would aim…right…there…”

Cutman physically moved Napalm’s turret-like body, aiming it towards an indistinguishable spot on the terrain. With a blast from his cannons, the ground now bore a new hole, and brown water spewed, fountain-like, from the opening.

“Waveman, infiltrate through the sewer. Apparently, none of you morons even thought of such an opportunity. I doubt the Cossackers have anymore level of intelligence than you at this point.”

“Eww…Why did I have to be the one who gets the nasty jobs?!”, Waveman pouted.

“GO.”, Cutman insisted. That was all it took to straighten out the protesting Waveman, and he disappeared into the open pipe maze.

Off in the distance, Chargeman’s rampaging form could be spotted, uselessly destroying trees in the distance.

Again, Cutman sighed. “You mean to tell me…That we have access to a twenty ton wrecking machine…And you’ve simply let him flail about uselessly…Captain?”

“Well…Uh…I’ve been distracted…”

“FAILURE!”, Cutman spat. Clicking on the radio once again, he commanded the out of control beast directly. “Chargeman! This is your commander, DLNO- zero-zero-three. Cease current action immediately. Focus on the Citadel!”

“Good luck, sir.”, Crystalgirl chuckled. “Maniac psycho’s been like that since we got here. He-“

Chargeman was already running, with no hesitation, towards the Citadel, and closing in fast. Trees seemed to be of little concern to him now.

Cutman tilted his head mockingly towards the rest of the group. “You really didn’t think I’d create something like that and have no means of control over it, did you?”

“But…We…!”, Napalmman began to argue.

“Never mind! We have more pressing issues at hand, Captain! Such as righting your many wrongs.

CrystalGirl! Follow Chargeman. He’ll have no problem breaking through their defenses, so once he does, infiltrate the Citadel and take the fight to them. It should be everyone’s goal to move the fight inside of the Citadel as soon as possible. Hold off on destroying it until you get confirmation from myself that Cossack has been dealt with.

Wraithman! Where are you?”

“Sir, Wraith vanished early on.”, Mysteryman informed. “Presumably to seek out his brother.”

“Idiot. We haven’t any time to waste on trivial matters like ‘family’. I see he’s cut off communication with me.

I’ll deal with him after this is over.

Mercenaries and Mysteryman! You come with me. I am here to finish off Cossack and his inner circle once and for all, and you will be my ‘orange peel’. I cannot waste time in fighting every insignificant ant we come across, so one of you will split off of the group and engage these useless simpletons until Cossack is found. At that point, I will deal with him and whatever defenses he may have scrounged together.”

“Sir, what about me?”, Napalmman meekly asked.

“Oh. You. Let’s see…You can perform guard duty.”

"Guard duty it is, sir!”

“Good. Mysteryman, you will guard that quadrant over there” Cutman motioned towards the Northwest corner. “and Geminiman, when he’s finished with his little game over there will guard the rest. There is an anti-teleportation grid over this area, so anybody fleeing will have to do so on foot or below the Earth. I suspect they may use Drillman and Groundman to tunnel themselves out, but that’ll be easy to detect due to the noise. They may also attempt to use the sewers, which is why Waveman is down there."

Cutman leapt down and stood on one of Napalmman’s cannons, leaning casually against his torso and bringing himself face to face with his monstrous customization.

“Napalmman, now listen carefully…In thirty minutes, if Cossack is not found, I will disengage the grid. We will teleport out of there at that moment, while simultaneously, you will launch a Napalm Nuke. The timing MUST be perfect, for if we teleport in front of anyone we will give away the fact that the grid is down, and therefore give Cossack a chance to flee. The Nuke MUST hit JUST as we escape. Is this understood?”

“Sir…You can count on me!”, he exclaimed, glad to be instilled with such trust once again.

“Excellent. The rest of you have you orders. Now... Go.

Cutman leapt down from the black tank of death and began his march towards the Citadel, Mercenaries and Mysteryman in tow.

Sedulus had heard the conversation over the com link system waiting for his assignment. When he received none, he spoke up. "General Cutman." He said cheerfully. "SA Officer Sedulus requesting permission to accompany your task force into the Citadel."

"Hmm?" The General thought a moment. Sedulus was that new recruit he had paired up with Spade. "I think I see where you're going with this, Sedulus. You may join us in an attempt to gain access to the control room. Keep your Crystal Eyes positioned at the barrier's rim so that you'll know if someone is fleeing."

"Indeed, General." Sedulus agreed. "Your decided course of action bears a substantial similarity to the method I was about to suggest. I will be with your group shortly. I shall contact Spade and inform him of the change in authority."

The General felt as though his job had just been made easier. He knew he needed to take care of something, however.

"Captain Quint." Cutman turned to the Mercenary leader, making him jump by instinct. Interaction between the two had been much less than pleasant.

"Yes, General!" Quint straightened to attention.

"I know the Cossackers have snipers who will be wandering the forest around here. Eliminate them." The General commanded.

"Yes, Sir!" Quint split off to go hunt the would-be hunters as the General returned to his business.

As the rest of the “orange peel” approached the Citadel, Mysteryman could already begin to recognize the Robot Masters far off into the distance. One of them in particular, was an old acquaintance of his: Astroman, with what seemed to be one of his copies, was guarding the front entrance of the Citadel.

“Sir!” Mystery asked for the General’s attention. “Permission to annihilate the Technological Tyrants.” He had made all kinds of plans about how he’d use his spy to regain his honor and prove his worth to the Scissor Army, but as soon as he saw Astro, his vendetta became more important. This was probably the only chance he’d get to get back at his nemeses.

“Permission granted.” the General replied after a slight chuckle. “In fact, it’s an order. If you don’t come back with their heads on a silver platter, you won’t live to see another day.”

Their original “agreement” was that Mystery would willingly join his army and serve Cutman as he pleased, and the cloaked robot only asked for one thing in return: a chance to get back at the Tyrants. And it wasn’t like the General was forced to fulfill his promise, but he would indulge him that much. After all, Mystery’s last assignment had not been a complete failure. Besides, Astro Boy was well aware of his electro-phobia. If Mysterymanaged to keep him busy, at least, it would be one less issue to worry about.

Just as Mystery was about to vanish, along the rest of his “troupe”, he heard one last warning. “Be ready to answer my call. I have no interest in your personal vendetta, if I call you up, leave everything behind.”

“Understood.” Mystery didn’t care. He would finish this business before anything else came up.


“Naop!!!” the voice of Koala was heard from inside the Citadel. “We have to surrender; there is no way we can win. Our only chance for survival is to join them!”

Astroman, who was guarding the entrance along Astro Chan, couldn’t believe his ears. “What are you talking about? The battle hasn’t fully started yet, and you’re giving up?” the TT leader demanded an explanation.

“I’ve seen what they can do. They are monsters! We’ll never win!” Koala declared.

“Look, I have no time for this. So you either come out here and fight like a man, or you go grab your blanky and hide under your bed. Just let us do our job!” Astro had no tolerance for that kind of attitude.

“But…!” Koala tried to complain further.

“No buts! Be a man or be gone! Now, are you ready, AstroChan?” Astroman asked his female counterpart, and she just nodded in response. “I can see them coming. Let’s launch our attack at the same time to give them a crushing welcome. On the count of three…”

Both robots started glowing as they lifted their arms, ready to greet the enemy with their Astro Crushes. “One… Two… Three…???” Suddenly, both Astros blinked for a second, and when they opened their eyes, neither the enemy nor the Citadel was to be seen. Only a splashing sound was heard.

“What happened?” AstroChan tried looking around.

Astroman turned around, just to see the Citadel a few miles away. They were now floating by the lake, south of Cossack’s. Astro knew this place too well, he had used it for training on several occasions. But he had no clue how they had been instantly transported there. No signs of teleportation, no signs of nothing. Only Koala, who had apparently fallen into the lake, was with them.

Suddenly, he noticed three people on the water's edge, shouting and waving at them. In awe, Astro realized who it was: the rest of his team (MagicMan, DynamoMan and Odin). “Stay close.” Astroman told AstroChan. He was suspicious about the whole situation. “Don’t say anything, no matter what. And try to keep your mind clear, don’t think of anything either.” As weird as it sounded for AstroChan, thinking about nothing was easier said than done.

“Naop, come here!” MagicMan shouted.

“What the hell Pharaoh? Are you the one who brought us here? Don’t you realize what’s going on?” Astro approached the trio.

“I’m perfectly aware! That’s why we came to get you.” MagicMan explained.

“Those Scissor freaks are invading this place, we thought we’d better get you out.” Dynamo interjected.

“Is that so? How kind of you to keep an eye on me…” both Astros kept getting near their “allies”. “Specially when you’re supposed to be traveling to distant dimensions, on a very important 'mission'. You took the time to come all the way back…” Astro was faking his thankfulness.

“Uhh… yeah.” Was all that MagicMan had managed to articulate.

“Well then, answer me this… why didn’t you bring Aku, Lyon and Kusa with me?” Astro got even closer. He would now be breathing down on Magic’s face, if he had been able to “breathe”.

“We couldn’t find them!” Odin intruded, in MagicMan’s defense.

“Of course you couldn’t…” Astro accepted. By now, he was sure of it. They were impostors. The absence of the secret mental link he had with his teammates was what gave them away. Several Astro-copies appeared around the trio, surrounding them with menacing looks.

“Get out of there you idiots! He knows!” a voice was heard from the distance, just as the multiple AstroMen fired their plasma shots. Unable to avoid them, the three impostors fell to the ground, their disguises vanishing to reveal their true form: that of three, unfashionably dressed, Scissor Joes.

“Nice of you to pay us a visit, Mystery…” Astro turned around to face the cloaked robot, who was now floating towards them with utmost haste.

“How dare you destroy my troupe!” Mystery shouted while pointing his finger at his nemesis. He had wisely decided to stay a few meters away from them.

“Oh, so now you have a troupe!” Astro replied sarcastically. “I gotta admit, I was wondering when you’d show up ever since the CC told me about your little charade in St. Petersburg. But to think you would recur to the same old tricks? This is getting boring Mystery, why don’t you just give up?”

Mysteryman emitted a hysterical laughter before answering him. “You think you’re the only one who can put up a good performance?”

“What are you talking about?” Astro was confused.

“I knew that you would see right through my illusory Joes. You are no longer susceptible to my fear-inducing illusions, so this was just a game, a simple greeting.” Mystery boasted.

“You mean to tell me you have something up your sleeve?”

“Precisely! I’ll give you a taste of my new abilities, endowed to me by General Cutman himself.” The bragging continued.

“Oooooh! I’m trembling!” the Astro copies mocked in unison, and fired their plasma shots without any warning.

Seemingly surprised, Mysteryman got hit, and fell to the ground. Yet another vanished disguise, revealed another Joe.

“Haha! I’m now immune to your sarcasm and humiliations!” Mystery shouted, with a disembodied voice. He was nowhere to be seen.

“Is that an upgrade you got from General Lumberjack? Sarcasm immunity? Laaaaame!” Astro kept on mocking him, while approaching the nearby forest in order to hide from the mysterious robot. His copies, plus AstroChan, were close behind. Staying in the open would make them easy targets.

“Psst… Naop!” AstroChan whispered. “Don’t you think we should be heading back? Our friends need our help.”

“I know, girl, I know. But this guy isn’t just going to let us off the hook. He might as well do whatever he did to bring us here, in order to bring us again.” Astroman had a point. “Now, follow my lead…”

Using his own holographic abilities, Astro camouflaged AstroChan and himself inside the foliage. Much like he did in St. Johannesburg, he used a hologram resembling a giant tree’s cortex to cover them up. It was not long before Mystery passed by…

He was obviously getting impatient, and was bound to let his guard down. His ego would always show in the end. Taking the opportunity, Astro jumped out of his hiding spot to surprise Mysteryman, who proceeded to blast every copy he could with his buster. He even managed to hit the real Astroman. “Haha! I bet you thought you had me, stupid psychic!”

“No, I didn’t.” Astro said, while recovering from the hit. “But she did!” he pointed behind Mystery, where AstroChan was already launching an Astro Crush.

“Nooooo!” Mysteryman shouted, as the barrage of meteorites came crashing through the foliage, pummeling him to the ground.


“Phew…” Jupiter sighed, looking down at the remains of Gyroman, resting atop one of the Citadel’s watchtowers. “This was one tough fight.” The Stardroid was holding on to his right arm, which had been almost completely removed from it’s socket. His leg also showed a certain degree of damage, as he limped while approaching Gyroman to confirm the kill.

“Not really.” TenguMan admitted. He had his arms crossed and was resting by the wall.

“Easy for you to say when you can control the wind to an extent.” Jupiter had fared the worst, and was covered in bullet holes. Tengu only sported a few minor scratches.

Suddenly a transmission was heard through Tengu’s com link. “TT: TenguMan. Guess who I bumped into?”

“Don’t tell me… Fishbowl-head…” Tengu guessed.

“Bingo!” Astro joked through the com line. “Anyway, I’m currently a couple of miles south of the Citadel. Can you tell me if I have a clear path back into the battlefield? As soon as I find that darned Koala, I intend to rejoin the fray…”

“A couple of miles south? What the hell are you doing there?” Tengu asked in disbelief.

“Long story… just be kind and take a look.” Astro insisted.

“Alright, alright…” the aerial robot took flight and scouted the southern perimeter of the Citadel. “It seems there are some Geminiman clones guarding the perimeter, but I can guide you through so you go undetected.” He reported.

“Awesome…” suddenly, laughter was heard through Tengu’s com link. “Shit… the guy we nailed was just another Joe. Tengu, forget about the re-entry plan. Come here and give us a…!” static was heard, interrupting their communication.

“Damn it… hey, Jupiter!” Tengu shouted back at his aerial partner. “Follow me!” the airborne robots wasted no time in jetting towards the southern lake…

“What the…???” TenguMan and Jupiter stared in awe at the strange display that was happening at the southern forest, still far away from them. The trees from a portion of the woods were disappearing, vanishing. And meanwhile, at the opposite direction, quite a commotion was going on. It was hard to tell from their location, but it looked as if that section was being devastated from the inside, as if the missing trees were being poured into the thick foliage that predominated in that area.

As both airborne robots kept approaching the strange phenomenon, they were forced to doge a few lasers fired from below. It looked like Geminiman was doing his job, but there wasn’t much he could do against them. After a while, the enemy fire subsided once they were far away from the perimeter. Tengu and Jupiter had reached the lake.

There, they found Koala kneeled by the water's edge, trembling and staring blankly into the horizon. The aerial duo descended to see what his problem was. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Jupiter tried shaking him by his shoulders, but Koala kept his blank stare.

“They’re all dead… Cossack, and all the Robot Masters.” he murmured. “And I will be dead too!”

“What’s he talking about?” Jupiter was quite confused. The battle at the Citadel had just begun, Koala was talking nonsense.

“It’s Mysteryman, the guy fell prey to his mind games.” Tengu approached them, a proceeded to slap Koala’s face several timed. “Snap out of it, dammit!”

Suddenly, Tengu heard a familiar laughter, as the water from the lake was lake being stirred, quite audibly. Unexpectedly, a gigantic figure emerged from the lake… it was jumbo-sized Mysteryman.

“Surprised to see me, Tyrant?” the giant robot asked. But before Tengu was able to say anything, a couple of figures were seen rushing out of the forest.

“Someone has been eating his veggies!” Astroman shouted, while leaning on AstroChan’s shoulder. The giant tree barrage had managed to leave him in a pretty bad shape. His levitation was erratic; a hit had messed up his anti-gravitational systems.

“Good to see you’re still making jokes…” Tengu greeted his leader. “But I believe it’s time we talked serious!” and with that, a Tengu Blade was sent flying right into the giant’s dome-shaped head… but it went right through it, only causing it to show signs of holographic distortion.

“So it was a hologram!” Jupiter shouted with excitement, while positioning himself in font of the giant hologram to try and dispel it with his electric-based weapon. And at first, it was working… the fake guy’s middle section was barely recognizable among all the distortion. But for some reason, the guy kept on laughing…

“Get back here!” Astro rushed towards the lake, ignoring the pain he felt. “It’s a tra…!”

But it was too late… the “hologram” had slapped his hands in front of him, surprisingly crushing Jupiter in the process. The Stardroid fell to the ground, by the water’s edge, like a squashed fly. Next to him was Koala, who noticed the devastated body of his “comrade” and started screaming like a little girl. Obviously, he was still in shock from whatever illusion Mysteryman had made him believe.

“You bastard!” Astroman shouted, while summoning an Astro Crush. TenguMan, also enraged, tried to cut Mystery’s hands off with his blade, but his weapon went right through them. Confused, he barely had time to move out of the meteorites’ way.

The water splashed, and a dense layer of steam covered the lake when the heated meteorites touched the surface. But when everything settled, giant Mysteryman was still there. This time with his arms crossed, laughing maniacally.

“There is no way you can defeat me now! You don’t even understand what’s going on, poor little Tyrants!” the master of illusion mocked them. His vengeance was finally coming to fruition.

“Naop… this is different.” Tengu got close to his leader, while AstroChan joined them. They were levitating above their enemy, hoping to regroup in order to formulate a strategy. “Mysteryman never showed this kind of power. And now Jupiter suffered the consequences from our recklessness. We have to start taking him seriously.”

“You don’t have to tell me that. I just came from a shower of pine trees…” Astro reminded him. “I don’t know how he does it, but he ‘moves’ stuff…”

“You mean like your telekinesis?” TenguMan inquired.

“How the hell should I know?” Astro was getting frustrated. This was way different from Mystery’s modus operandi.

“Are you done with the chitchatting?” the giant Mystery, still with arms crossed, taunted them from below. “You better watch your backs, hahaha!”

And with that, what seemed to be a gigantic hand smashed the trio of robots from behind. Again, as if they were flies, their bodies hit the water sooner than they were able to understand what was going on…



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