Previously on Rage Against the Empire
A small squad from the Rebellion of Blue had just begun the first phase of their mission to rescue their thought-to-be-dead allies from the clutches of Dr. Eggman. However, one of the teams had run into a new enemy - Rubeus, the Crimson Slayer, a mighty fighter with the power to control his ki. Through certain circumstances, Espio is forced to fight the masked warrior in a fight to the death. Meanwhile, Lyn and her team was to make their way to the launchpad and steal one of the shuttles stationed there, providing them the means to get to Sonic and bring him back home. Will the Rebellion of Blue win this fight...?
Stage 3 - Flames of Violence
Spaceport, Chemical Plant, Egg Sector Foxtrot - November 24 X017, 6:07 PM PST
It had only been a few minutes since she had made it, but Lyn felt that the atmosphere around the building where the launch pad was located was quiet. Too quiet, even… Nonetheless, she still needed to make her way towards Amy and Glacier to grab a shuttle and get out of the Spaceport before the place goes on high alert.
“Hey, rookie! This is Knuckles, checking in,” the voice of the red echidna suddenly chimed in through her communicator. “How’s the heist coming along?”
“So far so good, boss! Currently seeing roughly around... zero resistance,” the crimson feline 'answered as continued trekking her way to the station’s launchpad. “How’re Espio and them?”
“From what I can see, Vector, Charmy, and Aqua are on their way to your team’s position,” Knuckles replied back promptly. “However, Espio is currently dealing with another threat.”
“It’s not that masked bastard, is it!?” Lyn quickly questioned upon hearing the echidna’s response.
“I thought it was him for second, but the visual Espio is showing at the moment confirms that it’s someone else entirely,” the resistance commander responded to the recruit, his worry for Espio gradually increasing. “Whoever this new guy is... he’s definitely no pushover.”
Espio VS Rubeus - The Way of the WarriorMeanwhile, back at the outer area of the Spaceport, Espio tried his hardest to fend off his new opponent’s attacks, but Rubeus’ strikes were a lot faster than he expected. In addition, judging from how much force the chameleon could feel from his attacks, one punch on his skull could likely smash it into pieces.
There was also the matter of Rubeus being able to actively manipulate his ki - his life energy - to do battle, primarily in the form of projectiles coming from his hands and enhancement of his physical strikes, which all serve to make him incredibly dangerous.
The man in white seemed to notice the chameleon slowing down, however, and promptly began to take advantage of it by throwing in feints and mix-ups in an effort to throw the chameleon off. However, Espio’s reflexes kicked in right at the nick of time and swiftly evaded Rubeus’ onslaught before opting to create some distance between themselves and re-strategize.
Damn, this guy’s a lot better than I expected, Espio thought to himself with a stern expression plastered on his face. He’s making a good read on almost every move I make! Have I even landed a hit on him?
That’s when Espio realized that Rubeus was in control of the fight the entire time. All the chameleon had been doing throughout the battle was dodging, evading, or even blocking his opponent’s attacks! The chameleon then knew that if didn’t come up with a plan to take the masked man down soon, this fight might very well be his last.
“What’s wrong, Espio?” Rubeus calmly taunted to the chameleon. “Is this truly all one of your caliber can offer me?”
As Espio simply stood his ground, patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike, Rubeus slowly pointed the index and middle fingers of his left hand upwards at face-level. Just as this was done, a flow of energy began to travel straight into his fingertips. The chameleon then realized that his opponent intended to put an end to their fight swiftly, meaning he was running out of time!
“Very well. I have no use for keeping you alive any further then,” Rubeus remarked with a notably disappointed tone as he continued focusing his ki into the very tips of his fingers. “Now, die. Fire Lance!”
As he called out the name of his technique, Rubeus swiftly pointed his fingers right towards Espio before a piercing beam of flame shot out of them! Right at that moment, however, the chameleon managed to find his opening and swiftly took advantage of it by quickly tossing forth a small set of kunai.
Just as the kunai were about to strike him though, Rubeus manages to swiftly catch them all. However, that was exactly what Espio wanted him to do… As the masked man realized that Espio was no longer within his field of vision, he quickly turned to see the chameleon about to strike him with a roundhouse kick directly to his head!
“You’re mine, Rubeus!” Espio cried loudly as he swung his leg towards the Rubeus’ head with as much force as he could muster, only for the masked one to block it and follow-up with his own counterattack.
Right as the attack was about to connect, however, the chameleon suddenly vanished for a brief moment before reappearing directly above his head just as quickly. Espio then attempted to strike Rubeus once more with a downward chop, only for it to be blocked again! The chameleon then began to vanish and move towards different spots around his opponent at increasing speeds, eventually making himself appear to be at multiple points at once.
Espio’s plan was that, by moving around the masked man at such a rapid speed while attacking each time, thus forcing him to shift his focus multiple times, he would gradually disorient Rubeus long enough for him to finish it with one final strike! However, the effective of this plan would hinge entirely on whether or not Rubeus will be able to read and react to his movements quickly enough before he can finish it off. Unfortunately for him, while he didn’t seem to able to pinpoint just exactly where he was, Rubeus didn’t seem to be slowing down for even a second - a statement that both the chameleon and the masked man were in agreement with.
“You can’t keep up your tricks for long, Espio!” the masked one commented as he continued fending off Espio’s assault. “I’ll put an end to you the instant you slow down!”
“In that case, I have no choice but to end this quickly,” Espio answered as he suddenly ceased his onslaught and instantly moved himself to an area a few feet directly above Rubeus. In a fraction of a second, the chameleon then performed a brief series of hand seals before a large vortex of energy resembling the very wind itself, accompanied by a storm of leaves, began to surround both the masked man and the chameleon!
“Try this on for size! Mori no Uta - Konoha no Arashi!” Espio called out with a resounding roar as the vortex began to lift Rubeus off of the ground and become entrapped within its path of motion.
However, the masked warrior quickly planned a way to counter the chameleon’s attack and used the flow of energy to his advantage by letting it carry him closer to Espio’s position before quickly firing another beam of flame at him, only to find it ! At that moment, he quickly realized that he had just attacked a mere clone of the chameleon of sorts.
Unfortunately, it seemed that he had realized it too late, for he suddenly felt something cut right into the left of his back, leaving a rather large wound and quite a bit of blood spilling as a result. He then felt himself falling straight into ground, but barely managed to recover soon enough for him to land on his feet. It was then that he saw Espio holding a kunai, its blade partially covered in blood, indicating that that was what had cut him.
“Hmph. Cheap shot,” Rubeus remarked at the sight of Espio’s kunai. “I suppose you won’t be playing fair from here on out.”
“I am a shinobi, Rubeus,” the chameleon responded as he steeled himself for what’s to come. “If I’m remembering my history classes correctly, shinobi were never really known for 'playing fair’.”
“Hard to argue with that logic... Guess I’ll just have to play along!” the masked warrior answered right before rushing towards Espio at a near-instant and throwing a punch at the chameleon, who was caught off guard with the sudden attack and was sent flying a fair distance!
Before long, the fight between the ninja chameleon and the masked warrior began to intensify once more!
Launchpad, Spaceport, Chemical Plant, Egg Sector Foxtrot - November 24 X017, 6:19 PM PST
After a couple of minutes worth of traversing through the surprisingly large building that supposedly housed the launchpad they would be striking, Lyn had finally found her way back to the rest of her squad.
“Glad you could join us again, Lyn,” Glacier commented upon seeing the crimson feline approach her and Amy. “I hope you learned a little something from your little escapade.”
“Yeah, I’ll be a bit more mindful next time,” Lyn quickly replied. “Let’s just try and get this over with already.”
“Whoa, hang on! We’re gonna need a plan of attack before we even think about going in,” Amy promptly called out to the she-cat. “Eggman’s forces wouldn’t be so quick to jump the gun as to leave insufficient defenses in particularly important areas, such as this one.”
“Amy has a point. If we rush in there without thinking, we’ll be looking at a repeat of Omega’s little episode,” Glacier remarked in agreement with the pink hedgehog as she began scanning the numbers surrounding their target objective. “Judging from what I’m seeing, we probably won’t survive to see tomorrow if we take them head on.”
“What do you suggest you do then, huh?” Lyn questioned the two, wondering if they had already formulated a strategy of sorts beforehand.
“Maybe waiting for a few extra hands to help you out might be a good start,” a gruff voice coming from behind the three suddenly spoke in reply, prompting them to turn around and see that Vector, Charmy, and Aqua had just caught up with them.
“Good to see you made it, but...” Amy remarked before her voice trailed off, realizing that one of them was missing. “...where’s Espio?”
“The masked creep we ran into let us go but made Espio stay to fight him,” Charmy answered, visibly worried about the well-being of his comrade. “I know he said not to worry but...”
“It’s already been a while since we left him behind,” Aqua continued for the young bee, who was being comforted by the green crocodile. “I’m starting to get worried that he isn’t doing too well...”
“In that case, time is of the essence,” Glacier responded firmly, growing worried for the condition of the chameleon. “Still, with those kinds of numbers, I don’t think we can afford to rush in there, guns blazing.”
“Maybe, we can...” Amy began to speak before looking around and realizing that one of them had just gone elsewhere. “Wait, where did Lyn go!?”
As Amy asked the others in a panic, they looked towards the direction of where the remaining soldiers in Eggman’s army were stationed at and found Lyn running off on her own!
“Oh, what the hell is that idiot thinking?!” Vector cried out as he promptly began to give chase, with the others promptly following the crocodile. Glacier simply sighed, believing that the crimson feline would only get herself killed - quite brutally, at that - if she kept up her headstrong approach and recklessness in future operations.
Meanwhile, Lyn had already covered some ground and miraculously had not seen by the enemy forces. Going smoothly so far, she thought as she spotted a shuttle she believed to be suitable for their purposes. As she was about to make a mad dash for it, however, she felt herself pulled back by her collar and saw Vector looming over her.
“What the hell were you thinking, rookie!?” Vector quietly shouted at the she-cat, fuming with frustration and exasperation. “Do you want to get yourself killed on your first mission?”
“Don’t you want to get your friends back as soon as yesterday or what!? Didn’t that Roger guy say that the fatass has been constantly lowering their morale God knows how often and making them his slaves for six whole months?” Lyn angrily retorted in response. “Not to mention, Espio could be in trouble, as well. As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough reason for me to get this done!”
Upon hearing that, Vector fell silent for an agonizingly long moment. He then realized that Lyn was simply that determined to rescue their supposedly-fallen comrades from Eggman’s clutches, possibly even more so than any one of them individually, and make sure that the chameleon was alright. But why, he wondered...
“Look, kid, your heart’s definitely in the right place. That much I can see,” Vector quietly but firmly replied. “But I can’t just let you run in there all willy-nilly without a plan; what good will that determination of yours do if you’re dead? None of us want that.”
It was Lyn’s turn to fall into a momentary silence. She had been so focused on rescuing their beloved friend, whom they all thought to be dead for who knows how long - more than she should, honestly - that she had cast away all rational thought for much of the operation.
“...I-I’m sorry, Vector. It’s just that-” Lyn sighed and began to speak before hearing footsteps closing in on their position. Fearing for the worst, the she-cat immediately grabbed her Burst Wispon and popped out of their hiding spot. As she was about to fire, however, she saw that it was only the rest of the team catching up.
“Oh okay, it’s just you guys. Kinda scared me for a second,” Lyn breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing them. “Look, sorry for going off on my own like that.”
“It’s fine. Just make sure you don’t act so rashly again,” Glacier replied with a slight smile on her face. “Kudos to you for managing to avoid being spotted, though. I’m actually surprised you pulled that off.”
“Well, what can I say? My folks did say I was quite the sneaky li’l shit,” the crimson feline answered with a cheeky grin on her face. “Alright, so any bright ideas?”
Just as Lyn had asked that, however, the group suddenly heard the clicks from right above them. They then looked up to see three humanoid soldiers wearing armored suits with the insignia of the Eggman Empire pointing their weapons at them. They had been spotted.
“All of you are coming with us, lest your faces meet our bullets,” one of the soldiers - definitely a male, judging by his voice - demanded them in a firm tone. They weren’t screwing around, Lyn figured.
“Damn it! What now, Glacier?” Amy quietly asked the she-wolf in question.
After a long moment of silence, Glacier’s expression turned somewhat colder with an expression showing clear, killing intent and answered, “We fight!”
At that moment, the she-wolf quickly morphed her staff into a shortsword and slashed right across the rifle of one of the humanoid soldiers, catching them off guard. She then swiftly followed it by launching a razor-sharp projectile of ice right through his chest, putting a swift end to his life, signified by the puddle of blood flowing from his wounds.
The other two then began to fire their rifles, but were each stopped by a hammer strike to the head from Amy and a powerful arm swing from Vector. With the soldiers taken down, the team swiftly began their approach to the shuttle as several Badniks and other soldiers began to advance towards them! Before long, it was an all-out onslaught with the resistance squad evading through much of the Empire’s forces and taking down several more in their mad dash towards their objective.
However, while Lyn was doing her part in the attack, she couldn’t help but feel that there was something wrong with the whole situation. She had seen blood spurt out from the soldier that Glacier had cut down, and several others along their path. That was when she had realized that Eggman’s forces didn’t consist entirely of robots like she had initially believed, but living, breathing people with feelings just like herself and the rest of the Rebellion of Blue. She felt rather nauseous and conflicted upon coming this revelation...
Eventually, the team had managed to break through majority of the enemy forces and get to the shuttle. With little time to lose, they all assumed, they immediately got to work in getting the shuttle off the ground and back to headquarters. Of course, they still had to find Espio and get him away from the masked man that he and the rest of his group had run into earlier.
“How long until this shuttle is in the air!?” Vector cried out through his communicator as he continued fending off Eggman’s men from the shuttle’s entrance, alongside Charmy, Aqua, and Lyn. “Those guards really aren’t willing to let us go that easily!”
“Just a few seconds, Vector,” Amy hastily replied as she and Glacier tried their fastest to ignite the shuttle’s engines and fly back to base - hopefully with all of their heads intact. After fiddling around with several buttons and switches, they finally managed to get it running and, before long, were finally up in the air and on their way back to Espio’s position! However, Eggman’s forces were not willing to give up the fight that easily, for they immediately gave chase in their individual aircrafts can began to fire at the shuttle in order to bring it down.
At least they seem to have some guts, Lyn thought to herself as she laid her eyes on the incoming aircrafts.
“All of you, man whatever guns this shuttle has! Amy and I will handle navigation!” Glacier firmly commanded the rest of the squad as she and Amy grabbed hold of the controls of the shuttle. “Hopefully, we won’t fall to our deaths if we play our cards right.”
The four then immediately ran to whatever they believed could be used to defend the shuttle from the incoming attackers, which it thankfully had a fair amount of for a craft of its size. With the shuttle’s defense now primed, the first phase of their operation was finally reaching its climax!
Spaceport, Chemical Plant, Egg Sector Foxtrot - November 24 X017, 6:25 PM PST
Espio’s brief advantage over Rubeus through the element of surprise did not last, and the masked warrior was gradually gaining the upper hand over him. Despite his best efforts to throw him off long enough to end it as soon as possible, Rubeus was far too powerful and determined a fighter to simply do so. With options rapidly running low, the chameleon was not sure if he would survive this night. Soon enough, he found himself down on the ground, having spent a great deal of his ki fighting against the Crimson Slayer.
“It would seem you are finally running out of clever tricks to put me down, Espio,” the masked warrior commented, taking note of Espio’s apparent disadvantage before aiming channeling his ki into his finger once more. He was making sure to make this next shot the killing blow. “I believe it’s past time I put an end to this charade. I will admit, it was quite interesting to see the full menagerie of your skills and your capabilities with ki, but all good things do come to an end some time or another.”
“Hmph... maybe, you have a point there,” Espio quietly muttered as he tried to catch his breath, gripping onto his kunai all the while. “However...”
Right at that moment, Rubeus immediately fired off the beam of flame from his fingers but, just as it was about to hit Espio, the chameleon swiftly raised his index and middle fingers and seemed to absorb the energy of the beam through his fingers.
He then released it once more from the fingers of his other hand, straight towards the direction of the masked warrior, who promptly dodged the redirected projectile with a great leap.
"I firmly believe my time won't be coming too soon," Espio firmly stated just as Rubeus had evaded the redirected projectile.
“That was ki redirection, wasn’t it?” Rubeus quickly questioned the chameleon as he landed on his feet, displeased with the turn of events. “Damn! Not even I managed to master that technique. Bah, I’ll still end this, one way or another!”
“I’d believe you, but the thing is... it already has,” Espio remarked with a visible smirk on his face before leaping off of the platform they had been fighting on the entire time. After a brief moment of silence, a large shuttle suddenly rose from below the platform, with Espio standing on top of it, his smirk still present.
“Glad to see you’re not quite dead yet, Espio,” Glacier chimed in through her communicator. “Sorry for taking so long; ran into a few snags on the on the way.”
“Could’ve gone better, but better late than never, I guess,” Espio answered to the she-wolf through his communicator. “Alright. Let’s get out of here while we still can!”
“Like hell you will!” Rubeus cried out in response before firing a quick blast of ki from his hands. However, Espio manages to avoid it at the last second by vanishing from his spot and most likely into the interior of the shuttle.
As he looked into the windows of the shuttle, he saw what he believed to be a familiar face - one that belonged to a crimson feline wearing a purple jacket and sporting an unmistakable shade of green in her eyes. It seemed that the she-cat noticed the masked man gazing into her direction as her eyes were also locked onto where he was standing, an expression of surprise evident on her face.
It can’t be... the masked warrior wondered to himself, too shocked at the sight to act.
B-but how...!? the crimson feline thought to herself, evidently just as shocked. However, the shuttle soon began to fly away from the Spaceport at high speeds, albeit with a good number of the Imperial aircrafts that had been chasing them still on their tails, prompting her to refocus her attention to taking them down! At the very least, it wouldn’t take too long before the first phase of the mission was finally done and over with...
Westopolis, USA, North America - November 24, X017, 7:07 PM PST
Aw, man... damn Imperials got me good. That Eggman really made sure his forces were more than effective, those guns of theirs fucking hurt, a young man - a yellow hedgehog sporting what seemed to be a blue gi - thought to himself in frustration. How long has it been since then? What was I doing again…? We were just wandering around the city after- ...oh shit, that’s right! I need to...!
The young hedgehog immediately jolted upwards with an audible gasp, his eyes visibly wide open and himself in a state of panic. After recovering from his brief episode, he slowly examined his surroundings and saw what was mostly rubble and debris of a mostly-ravaged district of the city. Speaking of which, what city was he at again, he wondered...
“Right... this is Westopolis...” the hedgehog muttered to himself. “Damn it all, I hope-”
“Oh, good. You’re awake,” another voice - one that likely belonged to a young boy - called out, cutting the hedgehog off. He then turned to see an orange-furred fox with two tails, as unusual as it seemed to him. “I was starting to think you were dead. That wouldn’t have been too good, now would it?”
“...no, I guess not,” the young man answered sheepishly, still groggy from having just woken up. “I take it you found and brought me here then. I owe you one, if that’s the case.”
“It’s no trouble. Just didn’t want to see another innocent die at the hands of Eggman is all,” the two-tailed fox replied. “But, if it’s alright with you, you could give me your name, for a start.”
A brief moment of silence passed and the young hedgehog, after taking a deep breath, answered, “My name... is Whirlwind Reyes.”
-Stage 3 - End-