"Kay, kiddos. The amplitude package is sent!" Dorian smiled, closing her laptop along with the other connected computers. "But we won't be able to send another amplitude in for about 12 to 24 hours."
"Good!" Cecilius snapped his finger. "Now it's up to Ms. Shuruuko to lead the players out."
"Yeah, I just hope Mivange is up to the challenge," Saitori sighed, crossing her arms.
"What is it, General?" Cecilius walked up to her. "You seem troubled."
"Oh, well, I know Mivange has a lot of potential and has what it takes, but um… She's just... well…"
"I know you are worried about her. However, she's the only one in there who has the most capability to lead the players. She will have help, like Dr. Niang said."
As Saitori nodded, the transceiver attached to her skirt released a muffled voice.
"Gen… General?" The voice spoke. "Howdy! General Saitori? Do… do you co…. copy… copy partner?"
"Captain Arius!" Saitori held the transceiver up close. "I hear you loud and clear! What's the status?"
"Not…n… not good!" The voice became more clear. "The droid army has taken down our shoreline defenses from the east and west borders of America! The border shields are down!"
"What? How did the droids destroy them? Their artillery could never have-"
"Uh, they have these invisible wolf things, whatever they are. They went through and destroyed the shield generators."
"Wait," Cecilius listened. "Did he say, invisible wolves?"
"Ugh, chauliodoid stealth hounds," Saitori groaned. "I hate those guys! Should never have designed them. Captain, where are you right now?"
"Ah, we were overrun. We are retreating back to the center. Be careful, the wolves have infested the streets and are coming your way! Crap! On your right, partner!"
"Captain?" The transceiver stopped displaying Arius' voice. "Are you there?"
"Well, good thing Dorian got the amplitude through in time!" Cecilius said.
"Yeah, but we gotta get out of of here before-"
A series of screams and gunshots could be heard from the hallway.
"The hounds find us," Saitori continued. "That didn't sound good."
"Could we take a geococcoid runner to escape?" Cecilius asked.
Saitori heard the door behind her make a slight creek. She looked to see the door open by itself slowly. As she spotted a set of seven red eyes dashing for Dorian, Saitori drew her titanium blade to cut the stealth hound in half as it jumped. The halves of the mechanical wolf became visible as they fell on the ground. Sparks of electricity jumped out of the droid as green liquid oozed out.
"Wh… what," Dorian shook with fear, slowly closing her laptop. "What was that?"
"That," Saitori made a deep breath. "That was a stealth hound. Too bad all of the geococcoid runners are at the hangar. So much for that plan."
Cecilius drew his blade.
"Well, we got a helipad a couple floors up from here, right?" He spoke.
"Okay, then we got to move before more of those stealth hounds show up," Saitoi replied.
The UICA president then looked at Dorian.
"Dorian, we cannot lose you. You are the only one who can counter the Eclipser and make contact with the players," Cecilius told her. "Stay close to us, we will lead the way."
"O… okay," Dorian placed her computer in her case. "But we have to carry these other computers and laptops to continue sending more amplitude packages."
"We will help," Saitori placed the other devices in a nearby backpack.
"General!" Cecilius yelled as he jumped in front of the ladies.
The UICA president was blocking laser bullets coming out of thin air.
"Lead the way, Saitori!" Cecilius shouted as the two wolves appeared from thin air, continuing to fire with their back blasters. "I will cover from behind!"
Saitori nodded as she placed the backpack in her back and grabbed Dorian's arm out the other door. Cecilius backed up quickly as one of the hounds lunged at him. When the savage droid opened its vicious electrified fangs, the UICA president kicked the wolf's face and stabbed the blade at its eyes. When he spotted the other wolf disappearing towards the ladies, he swiftly jumped across the table, stomping on the mechanical hound's blasters before piercing his blade onto its head.
"Huh," Cecilius spun his blade across his fingers. "Can't believe we had to see these wolves again."
Saitori peeked her head out of the door to spot any movement.
"All clear," She whispered to the others. "Remember, we can't make too much noise with those hounds on the loose. Walk quietly."
The general led Dorian out to the right of the empty hall while Cecilius watched their backs. As they silently walked through the hall full of tattered equipment and dead bodies. The lights ominously flickered in rhythm with their footsteps.
"Damn," Saitori grumbled. "Those hounds turned our center into a bloodbath."
"M… more like a scene from... from a horror movie," Dorian nervously held her laptop case up close. "Eh, now I… I don't blame Shien."
"Shien?" Cecilius whispered as he checked behind them. "You're a friend of Dr. Niang's son?"
"Yeah, Shien hates horror movies."
"Yeah. That poor kiddo. We decided to watch a sci-fi horror movie, Shien couldn't stop crying."
"Ooof, our Desert Cardinal's like that too. Did he recover?"
"Uh huh, but it was a long process. My friend, Calice, had to like cuddle him for an hour."
"Woah. Calice? Calice Ming? The daughter of those Chinese anti-kneapexist journalists, right? Dang, what friends you have, Ms. Cazeium."
"Okay, why are you guys talking so much?" Saitori glared at the two. "The more we talk, the more likely those freakin dogs will hear us."
"Well, sorry that I had to comfort Ms. Cazeium here, general. She's never experienced the Niang Chronicles like us old men."
"Pres, we're not that old yet. I feel young again when I fight."
"Good for you. Have you ever thought that perhaps Dr. Niang and I feel a bit different about that?"
"Shhh!" Saitori rolled her eyes. "Ugh, amateurs."
The three encountered an intersection. Saitori looked at all three routes to check if they were clear as the lights kept flickering on and off. The hallway seemed completely empty. She pointed to the rightward route.
"The helipad is this way," She said.
They continued to follow Saitori's lead through the eerie hallway.
"Pres!" A loud voice shouted as Cecilius felt a tug at his leg. "Pres… Cecilius!"
The three gasped to see from the floor, a green haired man wearing broken glasses. He had a large cut on his body.
"Dr. Kullian," Cecilius bent down to the man. "Are you okay?"
"Eh, I… I'll be fine, just a scratch," The man grumbled. "Why are you still here, pres?"
"We are trying to escape to the helipad."
"Then go, quickly!"
"We aren't just going to leave you!" Cecilius took off his yellow coat to wrap it around the wound the best he can.
"N… no! No time!" Dr. Kullian panicked. "He… he will find us!"
"Don't worry, we handled those machine dogs before.""
"No! No! You… you all don't get it! I… ugh, not the dogs!"
"What? What do you mean?" Cecilius questioned as he held Dr. Kullian's arm around his back.
"Coast is still clear so far," Saitori told them. "Let's keep it that way. Dorian, the laptop is safe?"
"Y… yes, general," Dorian softly spoke with anxiety.
"Good, then we should move."
"No! Leave me!" Dr. Kullian struggled to break free from Cecilius' tough arms.
When the man fell, Dorian helped him up without thinking.
"Easy there, kiddo," Dorian assured the doctor as she helped Cecilius to walk him along with them. "We will help you."
"He's coming! He… is coming! Pl… please… leave me! No… no time… wherever he goes… the darkness… darkness follows!"
"Wait!" Saitori stammered. "What did you just say?"
"He… he brings the dark with him!"
"What… what does he mean?" Dorian trembled.
"Dr. Kullian," Saitori asked with unease as they walked across the flickering hallway. "What did… what did his face look like?"
Suddenly, Dr. Kullian screamed as he continued struggling away from Cecilius and Dorian.
"Doctor! Calm yourself! You will lead the stealth hounds here!" Cecilius yelled. "I told you, we won't leave you! What's wrong with you?"
"His face changes!" Dr. Kullian began to shout out obnoxiously, scaring Dorian. "Baby faces! Bloody ones. Dollies! Happy, happy rabbits! Haha, cute kids, cute kids, cuddly things. Hehe, happy kitty becomes the devil's face! Bugs coming out of the pony face! Doll turned bloody! Aaahhh!"
"No. No, it can't be," Saitori shuddered. "Not him."
The four heard rustling behind them. They looked to see sets of red eyes and movement behind them.
"Shoot! The stealth hounds heard us!" Saitori exclaimed. "Nice job, you amateurs. We got to move!"
As the four ran for their lives through the hall, the stealth hounds were unseen spectres that jumped from wall to wall as they fired with their back blasters. Saitori stepped back to protect the group as the others helped Dr. Kullian. The four ran through the hallway maze for minutes as the stealth hounds scampered on the walls with their visibility flickering on and off. Saitori sweated, knowing she may be unable to protect the others for long. When a set of electrified fangs appeared in front of her from thin air, a man with a fedora elbowed the wolf while another man finished it off with his laser pistol. The gang looked to see the fedora bounce across the wall to cut down the other hounds. After the two men finished off the stealth hounds, they looked back at the four.
"Howdy, yall!" The man with gray hair tipped his fedora.
"Ah, Captain Arius!" Saitori said with relief. "Magnus!"
"Glad we could come in time," The other man with gray and orange hair spoke. "Too bad we couldn't help the others. President Cecilius!"
"Mr. Qalvic," Cecilius smiled. "Glad you and the captain are okay. Where's the rest of your squad?"
"Umm," Magnus stammered. "Well…"
"We're all that's left, pres," Arius spoke as he rubbed Magnus' shoulder.
There was a moment of silence.
"I… I um… I am so sorry," Cecilius replied.
Dr. Kullian let out a weary moan as Cecilius and Dorian were losing grip of him.
"Woah there, partner," Arius quickly held the doctor by the armpits. "Magnus and I can hold him, pres."
"Thanks, captain," The UICA president said as Magnus stepped in to take Dorian's place.
"Oh! Hey, Dorian!" Magnus recognized her. "Didn't know you were here. Let me take over for you."
"Hey, Magnus," Dorian smiled to distract herself from everything. "Thanks."
"Thought you were in the game with my bro and the others. Hope they're alright. I couldn't contact them at all."
"Don't worry. They will be fine. We found a way to lead the players out."
"It's… it's a long story."
"Okay, if you all are done talking," Saitori went in front of the group. "We should get moving."
"Ms. Cazeium," Cecilius walked with Dorian. "Are you alright? You don't seem well."
"Um, it's just," Dorian mumbled as she clutched her laptop case. "I don't understand, president. Why? Why is this happening? People are dying, and my friends are stuck in the game."
"Trust me, we all are just as confused as you are. I… I am so sorry you had to witness all of this."
Saitori continued leading the group up the stairs.
"Ms. Cazeium," Cecilius began. "I assure you, we will get out of here. We will stop the Eclipser and get to the bottom of this Federation plot. Now we know how to counter the Eclipser, there's hope."
Dorian nodded as the UICA president continued to do his best to distract her from the violence she witnessed.
"Okay," Saitori told the group. "The helipad is across this floor."
The gang resumed their goal to the helipad.
"Strange," Arius grumbled. "No bodies here."
"Guessing the stealth hounds haven't reached here yet," Magnus struggled to hold Dr. Kullian up.
"Guys?" Dorian looked outside the window. "What's that?"
Saitori and the others stopped to look. Across the vast cities, purple circles erupted from the sky. Out of the circles came enormous warships shaped like sharks.
"What," Dr. Kullian looked up. "What are those things?"
The large sharks slowly swam midair as they emerged from the portals. The warships began to fire missiles at the other WARBLER Centers far away from the group. Explosions devoured buildings as flames from the underworld ravaged everything around them. Screams filled the air while the group could do nothing but watch from the distance.
"Oh my god," Saitori gasped. "Chimaeras."
"We're defenseless from that side!" Arius exclaimed. "Then that means, the shoreline invasion was all a distraction!"
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