Shiro Trigger Chapter 1

The Azure Gunknight

This chapter by Nightsong

7:40 A.M. June 15, 1700 A.D.

Zachary Shiro awoke to an annoyingly loud beeping. Groaning, he reached over to his bedside table and smashed a button on the alarm clock that sat there. As the accursed device quieted, he groaned again and sat up in bed. He forced open his steel-colored eyes, and immediately shut them again as he saw that the sun had already risen. That meant that it was at least 7:00 A.M. He was late to training again. The Sergeant was sure to discipline him heavily this time. Groaning again, Zach stood up and begin to quickly pull on his uniform. It was still laying in the floor, where he had put it the night before. He had meant to hang it up – as was the standard procedure – but he had been bone-tired after all of the intensive training he had been enduring lately. He’d had next to no time to work on his invention for the past month. As Zach finished buttoning his blue and white leather outfit, he couldn’t help but wonder why. There had been no war in the Guardia Lordship since the War of Ascension nearly 300 years ago. In it, twin heirs to the Guardian Throne had fought for the sole rulership of the kingdom. It had ended when a hero defeated the “evil” brother and placed the firstborn twin at the head of a new parliament-based government. Since that time, the Gunknights of Guardia had been training every day to make sure that no uprising could ever occur again. Of course, in Zach’s opinion, the entire theory was ridiculous. If the event were to occur again – which would be next to impossible – the gunknights would be split apart as each of them chose with whom their loyalties lied. Sighing, he picked up a brush from his bedside table and began brushing his long blonde hair. If he truly felt that the Gunknights were useless, he wouldn’t have joined up. At least, that’s what Cainus used to tell him. Cainus Mazarin… If only things hadn’t been the way they were that day two years ago. Maybe they would still be friends.

Zach picked up his gunbelt, which currently sported two holsters, which held two twin six-shooters. Perhaps, if he could get high enough in the ranks, he could one day add a third. As it was now, though, the thought of a fighting style that involved three pistols almost boggled Zach’s mind. If I can ever get that high up, then maybe I can make so that all of this training for a war that isn’t coming won’t be an issue. As he thought, he casually glanced at his alarm clock and saw that it was almost 8:00 A.M. He immediately ran from his room, tearing out of the front door of his house in such a rush that he knocked a potted plant over. Great… Mom’s going to be ticked. Glancing at his watch, he noticed that it was now exactly 8:00. Nevermind Mom. The Sergeant’s going to kill me!! Ignoring the mess that the plant had left on his doorstep, Zach jumped into his car, a red convertible, and immediately cranked it into reverse. He backed out of the drive to quickly, causing his back wheels to run up on the yard opposite to his house. As he pulled forward, he glanced back at the yard to see that he had left two long strips of grassless mud where his car had been. Great. Now the neighbors are going to kill me too. He tried not to think about it as he drove off toward Gunknight HQ.

As he drove, he forced himself to look around the city to calm himself down. Truce City was nice, he had to admit. He lived in the suburbian area, which actually boasted to still have some trees about. In fact, there was a large wooded area behind his house. Further into the city, where Gunknight HQ was, the area transformed from natural to planned. All throughout the downtown district, there were huge, steel skyscrapers looming about. There was even a Spaceport, though it was rarely used by anyone outside of the Guardian Space Program (GSP). Space travel was simply too expensive, and the colony on the moon was hardly worth traveling to unless you planned on staying. Zach didn’t know why anyone would. The moon was a barren place, and colonizing it was a useless gesture. No food could be grown there, so it had to be transported up on a monthly basis. If some crisis occurred here, the colony would die out in a matter of months. As it currently stood, there simply weren’t enough ships based on the moon to transport all of the occupants back. Also, there wasn’t nearly enough fuel stockpiled to run the ships there. Space on the colony was limited, and nearly all extra was taken up with foodstuffs. It was unlikely that that would ever change, at least not in the forseeable future. Bah! He thought. That’s all hypothetical, anyway. What could possibly happen that could affect the planet that much.

Turning his thoughts from the moon, he looked about him. He had reached the Guardia District. He could tell, for he could see Guardia Palace on Mount Gurad just ahead of him. The palace was more ceremonial than anything now, as most of the actual business of the lordship was taken care of in Gunknight HQ now. Gunknight HQ… Zach could still remember when he had first seen that building. It was the same day he met Cainus… Since that time, he had always wanted to be a Gunknight. Despite how much he complained about the training, Zach loved everything about the Gunknights. Everything about it seemed so… noble! The great warriors, defending the Highlord against the evil (and now rare) Mystics. Of course, he wouldn’t mind getting a break now and then, if only so that he could work on his many inventions. If I can ever get the Terapod to work, I can go back in time and be a real knight. Noting that he had reached Gunknight HQ, he shook his thoughts away and concentrated on parking. Looking up at the huge tower, he couldn’t help but marvel at it like he had so long ago. It’s main building was a fifty-story skyscraper, with four smaller buildings connected to it to complete the complex. He would be heading straight for the building on the front-right: The Arena. There, he would have to endure at least eight hours of intensive training, consisting of sprints, weight-lifting, and mock battles. That is, it would only be eight hours if the Sergeant decided against killing him. As he finished parking, he decided he’d rather come in an hour late than an hour and a minute late, so he ran the rest of the way into the building. As he reached the front door, he saw a familiar face had been waiting for him. Cainus. The man’s cold blue eyes narrowed in contempt – although they also seemed somewhat amused – as he saw Zach approached. He brushed his short black hair out of his face as he looked down his nose at his enemy, and spoke. “Hey there, Zach-a-ree.” He stretched out the last syllable, as if speaking to a small child. “I see you decided to show up for training. The sergeant gave us a break, and told me to wait on you. The others got free time. I don’t like missing free time. He told me I could take it out on you. What do you think I should do?”

Zach just shrugged. He certainly hadn’t meant for Cainus to miss break, but he wasn’t sorry in the least. “I don’t know, Cainus. What do you think you can do?” Cainus’ eyes narrowed in anger, and his hand went to his gun holster. In less than the blink of an eye, Zach’s hand was at his as well. “Don’t…even…think… about it. We’ll both be executed, if you make it that far.” Cainus snorted, and his eyes narrowed even further, almost glowing in hatred, but his hand dropped.

“Well, maybe I can’t do what I really want, but Sergeant gave me authority over you. Let’s go to the running track. You need to work on your speed, like for the rest of the day.” Zach’s fists clenched, and his hand nearly went back to his gun, but he thought better of it, and quietly followed Cainus to the running track.


Zach was exhausted. He had been running since about 8:30 A.M, and it was now nearly 5:00 P.M! This was beyond wrong, even for Cainus. Still, he only had to run a few more minutes. When 5:00 hit, only the Sergeant would have any authority on him, and even that would be limited. It was in his Gunknights’ Bill of Rights. In times of peace, a Gunknight could not be forced to train for more than his allotted amount of time. As he thought about this, he was relieved to hear the huge bell in the clock of the main building sound. Thank the Maker! He thought. He immediately walked over to a nearby bench, and fairly collapsed on it. To call his breathing heavy would be a serious understatement. It could best be compared to the report that his pistols would give when he fired them at, say, balloons. Balloons? He thought. Geez, I must be even more worn-out than I feel. I hope Gyx doesn’t mind. He was referring to Gyx Duran, his scientist friend. They had met years ago at a science convention, and had immediately taken a liking to each other. And now, we’re working on the ultimate invention. Even though Gyx had never understood why Zach had joined the military, he still shared a close bond with the man. Even now, he was probably sitting out in front of Zach’s house, wondering how Zach’s mom’s favorite plant had been knocked over. Knowing him, he’ll probably dust for fingerprints. Zach couldn’t help but snicker at the thought. As good a guy as Gyx was, he was hopelessly dense about anything that didn’t involve quantom physics.

Finally managing to catch his breath, Zach stood up, dusted off his hopelessly wrinkled uniform, and began to walk out of the arena. He kept a lookout for Cainus for a moment, thinking that perhaps he should avoid the man to avoid a fight, but quickly realized that Cainus must have left early. Zach wondered where the man went after work. Noone ever seemed to see him outside of training anymore… Zach decided he didn’t care, and hopped in his car, deciding that perhaps he would take the long way home. Maybe the neighbors will have forgotten about the yard by now. As he pulled out, he snorted. The Hendersons never forgot anything. Once, he had hit their mailbox by mistake. It hadn’t been damaged, just knocked it out of the ground. He had quickly replaced it in it’s spot, but the Hendersons had had it out for him ever since. Much like Cainus still had it out for him…


Cainus looked up at the huge, black building before him. It stood at least thirty stories, and while it wasn’t as impressive as Gunknight HQ, the events that took place within beat anything that ever took place within the walls of that government facility. For this was the Scientists’ Guild. The first time Cainus had heard the name, he had been unable to suppress a laugh. “Scientists’ Guild?” he had said. “It sounds like a bunch of lab-coat-wearing nerds formed a club.” His opinion of the group, however, had quickly changed when he learned what was taking place within. In reality, the members of the Scientists’ Guild consisted of three basic types: first, the scientists themselves, most of whom were the most gifted of the corporate nobles that ran all of the commercial and industrial businesses in Guardia. That alone made the group one to be feared, for the corporate nobles were a ruthless bunch of people. This point was further enforced by the second group of people. These were the Mercenaries. The oddly-named group basically sought out independents on the verge of creating a marketable new invention, and killing them in order to gain the patent for it. No member of the Mercenaries had ever been apprehended, much less convicted, for the scientists and corporate lords had invented machines (that the government had no idea existed, of course) that could wipe all trace of a person’s presence from the area it was activated in. The third group was the smallest, and the most gifted. These were the Associates. Cainus himself was a member of this group. They were incredibly gifted scientists that were also working as members in key positions in the government. Cainus himself was currently working on moving himself up to a leadership position in the Gunknights, so that the Guild could steal designs for top-secret military weaponry. While a part of Cainus hated betraying the Gunknights – for he had always loved everything about them – a much larger part of himself knew that the rewards for such undertakings would be huge. Even now, he was allowed to work on his time machine, despite the fact that many of the higher-ups in the first group thought it was a waste of time. It wasn’t turning out very well thus far, though, and it would likely be years before he perfected. But when I do, ah, the rewards will be beyond my imagining! As Cainus entered the building, he flashed his ID card at the nearest security “specialist”. Although he was well known here, failure to produce an ID card could “produce” very painful results. He continued walking on, waving at the secretary in the main lobby and moving on to a nearby elevator. Today, he had a meeting with the leader of the guild. A very high honor for an Associate, he knew, though he couldn’t help but wonder why. As the elevator door opened, he decided not to worry about it. I’ll know soon enough. “Top floor.” He said aloud. A beep confirmed his command, and the elevator began moving immediately following. As he went up, he brushed at his black-and-white armor, trying to smooth the wrinkles out of the leather. He had really wanted to change, but hadn’t had time after he had gotten done punishing that idiot Zach. After what he did… He thought, the memory causing him to clench his fists. He deserves a million times worse than that. He quickly forgot his anger, though, as the elevator door opened into the Guildmaster’s office. His fists remained clenched, but that was more out of nervousness than anything else. As he stepped out of the elevator, he saw himself immediately flanked by two guards equipped with gatling guns. State-of-the-art weaponry, they were, and they could only be legally owned by military personnel. Cainus had expected no less at this level, though.

“Display your ID immediately. Keep your hands in plain view. Any motion that could be mistaken for an attempt to draw your weapons, and you will be gunned down.” Cainus swallowed hard, and pulled out his card in haste, careful to keep his other hand away from his body. “Associate 399… Cainus Mazarin. You have been expected. Right this way.” With that, the guards led them through a huge double door before them, though they still kept their guns trained on him. They punched a button on the wall, and the doors swung open.

“You may enter.”

Cainus nodded his thanks at the two guards, relieved to be getting away from them, and entered the office. The sight that awaited him was one that rivaled even the Guardia Palace. A huge desk sat between himself and the Guildmaster, and it seemed to be composed of solid gold. Thinking of the amount of wealth that the Guildmaster had amassed, Cainus realized that such was probably the case. The walls were covered with plaques and photographs, so many, in fact, that Cainus could hardly see the cold steel that made up the walls behind it. The wall in front of him, on the other side of the desk, was simply a huge pane of glass. Cainus could tell from looking at it, however, that no weapon he knew of could break that pane.

“I see you are enjoying my quarters, Mr. Mazarin.” The voice of the Guildmaster, a deep baritone, made Cainus realize what he was doing. Standing around like a fool, gawking at an office. He immediately gave a low bow to the man sitting before him, and spoke. “My apologies, Master. I did not intend disrespect.” At this, the Guildmaster could not help but laugh. “Do not worry about it, Mazarin. I took no offense. My office is impressive. Please, have a seat.” Cainus immediately sat down in a comfortable looking straight-backed chair before him. “Ah, that’s much better. Now, I imagine you’re wondering why I called you here.” At this, Cainus nodded, but did not interrupt the Guildmaster, sensing a speech of some sort coming on. “In truth Mazarin, I must tell you that I originally did not have much hope in your time project. To be frank, I felt that it was a waste of time. But, the Mercenaries have discovered something that turns all of this around.” Cainus looked up, immediately intrigued. Who could be ahead of him in the time travel field? “There is a man living in the Suburbian district of Truce that we believe has nearly completed a time machine that will, in fact, work. I need you to take a few of the Mercs and, shall we say, ‘acquire’ the design plans, if not the prototype. I feel that, since you have been so insistent on working in this area, you should be given design credit.” Cainus could hardly believe his ears. While he was somewhat disappointed that someone had beaten him to the punch, he realized that only highly-trusted agents were given missions of this sort. If he pulled this off, Cainus saw money and power galore in his future. Still, he was curious… “Sir, I’m not meaning to interrupt, but who is this person?” he asked. The Guildmaster smiled at this, and leaned forward in his chair. “I’ve been looking over your profile, and this is going to make you praise the day I was born even more than you already should. The man’s name is Zachary Shiro.” Cainus nearly cried out in simultaneous rage and excitement. On the one hand, Zach had almost certainly used Cainus’ theories to base the prototype he was building on. Also, it didn’t sit well with him that Zach had managed to succeed where he had, thus far, failed. On the other hand, Cainus finally had a chance to settle the conflict that they had started almost two years ago. And by ‘settle’, he meant… He almost snickered at the thought. Finally! He thought, A certain way to get away with it! “Well? When shall you be leaving?” The Guildmaster’s voice interrupted Cainus from his gleeful thoughts, and he immediately stood up, giving another stiff bow. “Right away, sir, right away. I will leave as soon as I get some troops together.” The Guildmaster nodded, and gave Cainus a somewhat sardonic smile. “I’m glad to see you’re enthusiastic, but wait until morning. You see,” he added, seeing Cainus crestfallen look, “Mr. Shiro has yet to complete his machine. The Mercenaries estimated it would only take him another few hours to perfect it. So wait until morning. I’ll even allow you to use our Version II Telepod to warp in.” At this, Cainus’ eyebrows raised a bit. He had known that the Guild was powerful, but to actually own a working V. II Telepod? Amazing. With such a device, the Guild could strike anywhere at a moment’s notice. Unlike the original Telepod, which required two devices and was somewhat impracticle, the Version II merely required the user to input any set of coordinates on the globe, and the Telepod itself would warp to the spot. “Very well, sir. I’ll be right on it, and back with the plans before sunset.” The Guildmaster smiled again at this, but shook his head. “Do not move too quickly, Mazarin, lest you become careless. I don’t want any screw-ups. The Guild does not tolerate failure. Remember that.” Cainus swallowed hard, but gave a sharp salute, bowed a third time, and left the room. As the guards again trained their guns on him and he entered the elevator, he couldn’t help but smile.


Zach pulled into his driveway to see that Gyx had already cleaned up the mess left by his mother’s plant, and was waiting on him. As he saw Zach, he smiled and walked over to the car. He was a relatively short man, not more than about 5’ 7”. Also, his weight complemented his height, for he weighed but 120 pounds. Every time Zach saw him, he couldn’t help but make some kind of “short joke”. Today would have been no exception, but Gyx seemed somewhat panicked, so he decided to wait until he heard what was up. “What’s wrong, Gyx?” he asked casually as he got out of his car. Gyx looked at him solemnly, then motioned him to follow him inside. First, he pointed to the absence of the potted plant. “You wouldn’t know it now, Zach, but someone knocked your plant over. Broke the vase. I think someone broke in.” Zach laughed as he saw the solemn expression on Gyx’s face, then tried to explain. “No, no, Gyx, I was running late this morning. I accidently knocked the plant over. Noone tried to break in.” Gyx shook his head violently at this. “No! That’s not all that’s wrong. I went inside, and the sensors we installed in the room had been tripped. It was weird. Someone definitely tripped the sensors, but your security cameras didn’t pick up anything.” This revelation genuinly disturbed Zach. If his sensors had gone off, someone had definitely been inside. But the cameras should have gotten pictures of any intruder! “Let me see the video. There has to be some trace of something. Ghosts didn’t break into the room, after all. You might want to hold on to one of my guns, though.” Gyx pulled back from Zach at the last statement, obviously repulsed. “Me? Use a weapon?? I think not.” Zach rolled his eyes at Gyx’s insensibility. “Whatever, Gyx. Being a pacifist won’t stop a vandal from shooting you. But it’s your choice.”

“Guns solve nothing, whether or not they could protect me. You can keep them.” Zach shrugged, and opened his front door. Just looking, you couldn’t tell that anything had been disturbed. He walked into his laboratory, and things remained exactly the same. Nothing had been disturbed. Nothing, that is, except for his state-of-the-art motion sensors. He had designed the things himself to pick up any traces of movement that was comparable to human – or mystic, though no one saw the almost-mythical creatures much anymore – motions. Looking at the monitors for these tracers, he saw that his lab had indeed been disturbed by something. He walked over to his computer and sat down, quickly typing in several commands. Immediately the monitor switched to a video tape of the past several hours in the room. He put the tape into fast play, scanning to see if he could find anything on cursory examination. As he had expected from what Gyx had said, he did not. He then pulled up a file that showed the time when the sensors had been breached, and put the tape file playing just before there. He watched it several times, but… nothing. There was no trace that any human had ever been in the room. He thought for a moment, sliding back in his chair and resting his chin in his palm. Gyx passed the time by pulling out a small packet of materials and began to “dust” the room for fingerprints that should not be there. Zach thought that the packet was useless, as anyone who had come in without leaving a trace on video couldn’t have left a video. The only way anyone could have done that was if they had hacked his computer. But that was surely impossible! He had designed the best incryption codes in the country! But… it was the only explanation. He reluctantly pulled up a file that showed when the computer had last been used. He had designed this program himself, and doubted seriously that even a master hacker would have thought to look for it. Sure enough, the last time the computer had been accessed registered at 2:00 p.m: the same time that the sensors recorded a breach. He muttered a curse, which made Gyx look at him. “What’s so wrong, Zach, that you’ve got to use that kind of language?” Zach rolled his eyes at the other man. No matter how bad a situation was, Gyx never veered from his clueless morals. No guns, no curses; no matter how bad the situation was, they were completely unnecessary. “Oh, be quiet, Gyx. Someone actually hacked my computer.” Gyx’s eyebrows raised at this, and he stopped his examination of the room. “Really?” He asked. Zach nodded, muttering another curse as he did. Gyx looked as though he wanted to say something about it, but wisely refrained. “Well, I guess there’s not much point in going over the room. If they hacked your computer, they didn’t leave any fingerprints.” Zach nodded, sighed, and stood up. He walked over to his master invention, which appeared undisturbed. “There’s really nothing we can do about it except lock the door and work faster. Go set the door, and I’ll prepare the equipment.” Almost forgetting his frustration of but moments before, he proceeded to add, “I think we might finish tonight!” Gyx smiled at his friend, equally enthusiastic about the idea. “We could test it by morning!!” Zach nodded, then waved Gyx away. “We won’t get anything done ‘til you lock that door. Move it, if you would.” Gyx rolled his eyes, but immediately complied, leaving the room. Zach turned his attention to the machine before him.

It was something that could be best described as unreal. The design itself was nothing special. It basically looked like a more-compact version of the Telepod, without the top half of the ancient machine present. Also, the bottom half of the pod, which would actually serve as transpoter, was assembled in such a way as it could be quickly disassembled and stored into a specialty backpack that Gyx had designed; in short, after one traveled through time, he could take apart the machine and carry it with him. Zach and Gyx had struggled long and hard on finding the parts to make this feasible; after all, if it was composed of wrought iron, it would do noone any good to be able to store it in a backpack. They had finally settled on a type of aluminum alloy that was both light and strong; in fact, it was a modified version of the metals commonly used in bicycles. After months upon months of getting parts built, they had finally began actually assembly three weeks ago. If everything was put together correctly, the teleportation theories of the ancient Lucca Branford combined with Cainus Mazarin’s radical theories on the nature of time would allow Gyx and Zach to build the world’s first working time machine. All that was left now was actually assembly of the exterior. Once that was complete, he and Gyx would travel to some point in history and marvel at it’s wonders. Of course, Zach had much larger long-term plans for the machine than for it to be an interactive history class, but he wanted to explore history himself before the entire thing was regulated by the government. But where would he go first? Zach had considered taking it into the future, but had decided that knowing what the future would bring might scare Zach. If one entered the future, one could accidently alter history in his own time by acting differently based on his knowledge. But the past was different. According to Cainus’ theories, unless you did something to radically alter the course of history, the timestream itself would prevent any paradoxes from occuring. Thus, Zach would be best off visiting… 1000 A.D!!! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? I could actually meet the great Lucca!!! Excited with his idea, he told Gyx all about it when he re-entered the room, and they excitedly began work on the Terapod, the time machine.


June 16, 1700 A.D.

Zach and Gyx stood before the shining marvel, amazed with their achievment. In front of them sat the completed Terapod. It shone under the laboratory’s flourescent lights, it’s silvery gleam almost giving the impression that it was somehow proud of itself. Zach wouldn’t be surprised by that in the least, for he was certainly beyond proud of it. Nearly a year’s worth of work had reached it’s culmination, and before him sat what would be the most incredible invention that the world had ever seen. As he strapped on his large backpack, putting several supplies into it, he couldn’t help but wonder aloud, “Why do I have to carry the bag, Gyx? It’s your design.” Gyx, who had been busy with his astonishment, looked up at Zach and cocked an eyebrow. “Hey, you’re mister military. You’re in better shape than me.” Zach nearly muttered a good-natured curse, but thought the better of it when he realized it would likely ruin Gyx’s mood. He instead continued preparing for their journey to the past, setting the dial on the machine to 1000 A.D. He would have preferred to make the machine exact enough to set a precise time, but that could take years of research. This would do for now. This would do nicely.

This will do nicely, thought Cainus Mazarin as he quietly watched Zach and Gyx prepare supplies. This is the perfect position for the strike. Why would the idiot have a window for his lab? He was standing just outside of the house, listening to the constant – if quiet – noise of the two Mercenaries behind him. Soon, the time to strike would be at hand. He merely had to wait for the precise moment to strike. The moment that the two fools…

“We’re finished!” Zach exclaimed, zipping up his backpack. Gyx looked at him in… well, in glee, and hopped onto the machine. Zach held up a hand. “Woah, Gyx. Hold on!”

“Hold on, Mr. Duran. You can’t leave yet. We have to FIRE!!!” Cainus yelled the last word, and smiled as the report of the Mercs’ machine guns shattered the window and instantly slammed into Gyx.

Zach’s expression changed to one of horror as he saw his friend almost ripped apart by a hail of bullets. He yelled in unspeakable rage and horror as he saw his friend fall to the ground, the short man’s face twisted in surprise and agony. He immediately grabbed his pistols from his hip holsters, and jumped at the window. Someone was going to pay.

Cainus’ look of amusement changed to surprise as he saw Zach leap through the remains of his window. He became even more amazed as he saw that the man had somehow dodged the Mercenaries’ second hail of bullets, and had actually managed to shoot one of them down. He quickly regained his composure, though, and immediately pulled out his pistols. “Hey there, Zach. Looks like I’ll get payback after all, eh?” Zach looked at the man, seeing that his pistols were pointed straight at him. He screamed a curse. “CAINUS!!!!!!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!??!!!!!!” Cainus smiled, though he kept it small, seeing that Zach was rather unstable at this moment, and could be trusted to do something rash. Rashness could prove bad to Cainus’ career, as Zach’s pistols were also trained on him. “As much as I’d like to claim it was, it wasn’t anything personal, Zachary. The Guild told me to get your time machine, so here I am. You aren’t allowed to live to the aftermath. I’d say I was sorry for that, but I’m going to… thoroughly… enjoy this.”With that, he gave a nod to his remaining Mercenary and rolled out of the way just as Zach fired at Cainus. He then looked up as he began aiming his pistols again to see that his Mercenary was missing Zach yet again. Hundreds of bullets were flying in the man’s direction, but none seemed to hit the mark. Watching Zach twist and roll, Cainus could hardly believe it. Noone could dodge that many bullets! As Zach managed to get back inside the building – through some sort of incredible leap from a prone position on the ground – Cainus forced himself to get thinking. If he didn’t hurry, Zach might…

Zach knew he couldn’t win this battle. No matter how much hate flowed through his veins right now, he still knew that he had no chance of dodging a machine gun until that big guy ran out of bullets. But why was he here? The Guild? Had Cainus meant the Scientists’ Guild? Zach had heard that they had been disbanded by Highlord Guardia!! Apparently, this was not the case. But Zach didn’t have the time to ponder this at the moment. He had to get out. There was only one way. He hoped the machine worked. Zach instantly jumped to the Terapod, realizing how very exposed he was here, and began entering the key commands. As he did so, Cainus and the gunner entered the building, Cainus attempting to pick of Zach without damaging the machine, and the gunner attempting to reach the podium in time. He didn’t make it. He made a flying leap at Zach just as he and the Terapod faded from existence. Zach, meanwhile, was experiencing a world of flashing blues and infinite horizons.

Cainus cursed in frustration and emptied his gun’s magazine into the wall of the building. He had been so close! But Zach had escaped. Cainus swallowed hard. He was in some major trouble. Looking around the lab, Cainus wondered if there was any way to preserve his life. As he almost frantically ripped things off of bookshelves, he came upon something he hadn’t expected to find. The plans to the machine!! He thought. He turned to the Mercenary, and spoke. “Well, James, I just saved our lives. These are the plans. Run the Sweeper, and let’s get out of here.”


“You just killed an unarmed man!"
"He should have armed himself."
     - Toma & Kovac, Demon Gate by Icy Brian


Author’s Note: Well, what did you think of the first chapter? I’ve put a lot of work into this project, and I’ll be seeing it through to the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed it thus far. But, in the words of Monty Python, “Now for something completely different.” The next chapter will be written by Lynxfire, with a return to my writing for the third chapter. Don’t worry, I’m sure his writing will be every bit as inspiring as mine. Read on!!



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