“All right, so how do we stop Armageddon?” Bach, Mort, Toro, and Reeves all stood around looking at each other with a sense of approaching doom. Getting back from England had been an ordeal, but considering everything else that had happened, tricking security into believing that Bach and Toro had been in a car accident was the easiest thing they’d done in London. Finding a street doc was harder, though accepting that their doc operated out of a restaurant was hard for them all to accept. Bach had Helios loaded up on his commlink and they waited for an answer.
“So, in order to fully prevent the coming catastrophe, we’d have to knock out all the Matrix hubs around the world. We could take one, the Crusaders another, maybe I could try and hack the incoming signals to one other. That still leaves two or three more.”
“What happens if just a few hubs go off?” Asked Toro, for which Bach didn’t have an answer.
“The effect would be unknown. Was Wolfe trying to summon a large being that required one massive ritual? Or was it a series of small summonings that would tear apart everything by strength of force? We don’t know much. We should assume that each individual area will be devastated no matter what.” Reeves nodded his head.
“I don’t have enough man power to take over more than two areas. And that’s being generous.” Bach nodded and then looked absently away.
“Helios, would it be possible to commandeer a satellite and use it to interfere with the solar flares? Could we shoot something high powered enough to change the flare patterns?”
“It is possible, Mr. de Victoria, but given our current condition and time constraints, we would not be able to accomplish the task in time.” Bach looked downcast, but looked back at the group.
“Do we just accept that not everyone can be saved?”
“We could also attack the main server in Ottawa. If we can lock out the controls there, we might not need to worry about the remote facilities,” said Mort. Everyone nodded and Bach stroked his chin.
“Yes, yes that could work. We’d only really get one shot and if they have security precautions against tampering on the server, that would probably trigger the event prematurely. What effect that would have, I am uncertain, but still.”
“You could release me into the server directly, Mr. de Victoria, and I could work on controlling any reactionary effects and shutting down the server.” Back nodded and agreed.
“Do you want my men?” Reeves asked, cycling through his six-shooter sidearm and taking out each long bullet one after another. Bach shook his head. “That feels like we’re putting all our eggs in one basket.”
“Agreed, you should stay and prepare to try and recover Seattle if our mission doesn’t work.” Toro was thinking about his orphans when he spoke and he was concerned. Everyone nodded and Bach looked at Mort. “Well, let’s give your baby her first true spin. Prep the missiles and make sure all the gun systems work.” Mort smiled.
“I’ll get on the ground as soon as I can and try and deal with cultists or whatever.” Toro had one of his swords out as Mort launched the Thunderbird over the tree tops of Canada. Bach sat in a seat with one of Reeves’ men, who had an assault rifle and had been sent to cover Bach and Mort in the event of a ground firefight. Bach just nodded. They all heard a small ping from the tank’s driver seat and looked over, hoping the ping was nothing serious.
The Thunderbird jolted sharply to one side as an explosion rocked them about. The ping was a missile. Mort shifted control into the radar quickly to enhance its abilities and saw two gunships approaching and a ground anti-aircraft crew taking aim. Problematic.
Toro opened up a door and jumped out of the Thunderbird, having no interest in staying in a tank that was being shot with missiles. He activated his chameleon suit and ran through the foliage with a soft rustle, approaching a small encampment that held a few men with large planted machine guns watching the Thunderbird. Taking the advantage, Toro leaped over the sandbag cover, decapitating the belt feeder and impaling the gunner quickly, removing his blades and standing still. As he faded out of existence, Toro looked toward the sweat lodge where the camp housed their protective magics. Just then he was knocked back several feet by an invisible force and blood trickled out of his nose.
Mort was evading missiles with his precision-based flying system with some electronic warfare assistance from Bach when he finally got in optimal range for his missiles. He launched one at the ground anti-air crew and launched another at one of the gunships. The ground crew were incinerated immediately. The gunship turned and soaked a majority of the explosion along its reinforced hull, though the explosion still rocked it about and damaged it significantly. Bach was doing his best to interfere with the missiles lock, but still another explosion buckled the hull of the tank. Mort, safely tucked away in his protective cocoon, began to bled from his head as a headache pounded across his mind.
“I may have to have you take over, Bach.” The tank said out of its computerized mechanical voice. Bach looked up at the grunt with an assault rifle. “Peachy.”
Toro had been tossed around a few times and had broken several ribs in the process from an assailant he couldn’t see. He was getting upset. Finally he lifted his head, his eyes glowing a yellow color as he looked past the physical realm, trying to find his mage’s astral signature. He did, and a man with a green aura stood on top of the sweat lodge, preparing another spell. Toro ran at the man with incredible speed, a bolt of green energy smashing into his chest and ripping part of his shoulder away. Toro didn’t care. With a leap, he landed on the lodge and sliced across the man’s stomach with his swords, causing the invisible threat to bend over in pain. Quickly, Toro sidestepped and came down upon his neck with one of his swords, the blow cleanly chopping the mage’s head off. With a grunt, Toro kicked in the roof of the sweat lodge and landed inside, looking at the two meditating and unconscious mages. He almost smiled.
The Thunderbird shuddered as Mort fired his cannon at the last remaining gunship. His missile banks had been depleted on the first ship, though it had finally destroyed the offending ship. Holes peppered the tank and Bach was convinced that one more solid hit would either crash the vehicle or knock out Mort, he wasn’t sure which was worse. The gunship turned to the side to fly away from the tank, and Mort smiled even while comatose.
His cannon trained on the missile bays of the gunship and fired, the Thunderbird shuddering once again. With a resounding boom, the bay dropped from the ship and crashed to the ground, burning on the ground. The gunship turned to fire its front-loaded machine gun at the Thunderbird, but Mort fired the cannon at the gunship again. Though he intended to hit the cockpit, he ended up blowing off the machine-gun, leaving the helicopter defenseless. “Good enough! Alright Bach, you’re good to go!”
Bach and the Crusader jumped out of the tank and ran towards the main server, encountering no resistance. Inside was a single hacker linked up to the server. Bach would’ve killed the man immediately. de Victoria just unplugged him from the network and loaded Helios into the mainframe.
“Wha… where, oh shit!” The hacker looked at Bach as his gun was trained on him. “I don’t suggest moving. I don’t want to kill you, but I will.”
“Mr. de Victoria, I have located the central command for sending out the virus. I need you to destroy the power source to the mainframe and quarantine the area permanently, so that this server will never be activated again.” Bach looked up at the server with a grimace.
“Helios, don’t be ridiculous, you’ll be trapped. We can—”
“I have already been infected with the virus. If I leave the server, I will infect other nodes and our mission will have failed. Please, carry out my commands.” Bach looked at the server for a few more seconds with an upset look on his face. Then he walked over to the main power grid and shut off the server, trapping Helios inside.
As Mort landed the Thunderbird, Toro limped over to the tank, looking around for any more threats. Bach walked out escorting his hacker. Toro looked at Bach hopefully.
“Did it work?”
“Yes, the mission was successful.”