Union of the Guyvers
Part 3 - Preview
The sharp click of armored boots on the metal deck plates echoed through the empty corridor. Imakarum Mirabalis passed through the base with a steady, purposeful stride. It was good to be in possession of himself again. After his previous defeat at the hands of Gigantic Dark his healing had been protracted and painful.
He felt his face darken with anger at the memory of his humiliation, his pace increasing. The Supreme Zoalord continued deeper into the bowels of the Arizona base his cloak following him like a storm cloud as his mind flicked out towards the lift he was approaching. The call button glowed sedately after a slight telekinetic nudge and by the time he had reached it the doors had opened before him.
Swiftly the lift descended, slowing as it approached the last sub-basement level. Another telekinetic push, connecting a hidden series of contacts that only one such as he could reach within the control panel and the elevator smoothly passed it’s supposed last stop, dropping further into the earth.
When it finally settled to a gentle stop, Imakarum stepped out into a different world than the sterile base he had left. His booted feet moved quickly across the rough stepping stones that crossed the swath of thick green turf that the elevator opened onto. The stones ended at a sheer drop-off that led out into a lush green oasis paradoxically hidden in a cavern deep beneath the Arizona desert.
From a fissure in the rock strata a thundering torrent of water gushed out of its craggy underground course and down into a deep basin. Once, perhaps, the rushing water had filled this cavern, etching it out of the native rock. Now the river had etched its course deep and narrow enough that much of the interior was now high above the waterline.
The water sparkled as it fell, lit from dozens of brilliant sun-globes set in the high, arching ceiling. Bright, natural sunlight caught by collectors scattered across the Arizona base had been channeled down through the superstructure to this chamber. The better to nourish the life Alkenphel had placed here.
The verdant growth was jungle-like in its variety, some species modern, but others, indeed the bulk of the flora present was of various prehistoric varieties found nowhere in the world but here and Alkenphel’s Island.
Imakarum’s shadow passed over the carefully landscaped jungle as he took to flight from the ledge passed the waterfall's frothing plummet and down into the stand of ancient tropical trees that formed a forest around Alkenphel’s abode. His passage barely swayed the massive trunks as he alighted at the portal leading within. It cycled open at his approach and he entered without hesitation.
The structure gave no indication it had been built by human hands. Organic, with the same mottled appearance of a relic, the walls melded into the floors and ceiling, creating the feel of walking into the interior of some living creature. This, Imakarum mused, was not far from the truth. But his attention was diverted from such thoughts, as he strode forward to kneel at the base of the massive, throne-like command chair that had been grown for Alkenphel’s use. The object, as much art as functionality, was currently facing away from him, towards the softly glowing bank of view screens that had been inset in the far wall.
“Master.” His voice hushed with a reverence he showed no other living being as he awaited his Lord’s pleasure.
The chair did not turn, but a slender hand lifted from within and directed his gaze towards the view screens, which currently showed a scene of a processing tank being swiftly drained, the medical team in attendance helping a naked middle-aged man out of it. Seating him as they began asking him questions and performing diagnostics as his shaking slowly ebbed and he began to recover a portion of his energy and poise.
“What do you think of Zarfel, Imakarum?” The voice was smooth, light, and almost musical in its tone and for Imakarum it commanded instant attention and response.
“He has survived the processing while maintaining his integrity and should be ready for his first trials in the morning, Master.”
“No Imakarum, what do you think of him?”
For a moment Imakarum let his surprise affect him, making him pause before he mentally kicked himself into action. “H-he is a superb tactician my Lord.” He replied, slowly recovering his poise as he continued. “Highly intelligent, his rating is excellent.” He closed his teeth on the rest of what he might say of Zarfel.
However, Alkenphel obviously knew he had more to say. “Go on.”
“Well, Master…” Imakarum braced himself as he acquiesced to his Lord’s tacit order. “He is very cautious, too cautious in my opinion. His tactics do not favor confrontation. He tends to be convoluted, and complex.”
“And… effective, Mirabalis?” Imakarum felt himself coloring beneath his Masters chiding tone. “What else?”
“While his complexities have served him well in trials, I am curious of how well he will function in real situations.”
“Quite right, I agree. And I believe we have the perfect opportunity to provide that sort of field trial. Once his physical trials have been completed, he is to be transferred to the Pacific sector. I want him to provide oversight for excavation 437.”
Imakarum blinked, that he had not been expecting. However, he mused, it was not without certain potential. “As you wish Master, what orders shall I pass to him?”
The screens went blank, cutting off the sight of Zarfel dressing as he was cleared to return to his quarters. “He is to be told precisely what is expected of him.”
“But not everything?”
“No Imakarum, only as much as is necessary.” The screens blinked to life again, this time showing another medical room, and a young man seated on a gurney undergoing a medical examination. His face showed supreme boredom and an almost sneer as the technicians bustled about him.
“Also inform Destrol that he will be accompanying Zarfel as his second-in-command.”
Imakarum gritted his teeth, and then forced himself to speak. “Master… Are you sure it is wise to include Destrol in this? His… unpredictability and temper could be a liability in this endeavor.”
Alkenphel chuckled quietly. “This is why he is not in charge. He must learn to obey orders, before he will be giving them.” The screens blinked again, this time filling with a myriad assortment of dossiers. “Who would you suggest we work on next? I must admit, I find this new experiment most intriguing, and desire to see it continue.”
Imakarum studied the faces staring silently back from the screens. “Kalika, or perhaps Tonnin, my Lord. Both show great aptitude.”
“Very true, and normally I would agree wholeheartedly. However, I wish to shift the focus to the Modus Varietas project, and neither subject is a suitable test body for it. Though I think I know who we can both agree would be perfect for it.” The screens shifted, all of the dossiers winking out except for one, which expanded to fill the rest.
Imakarum felt his mouth twist in disgust. “Rofel, yes my Lord, I believe he is the perfect choice for such an experiment. If we are fortunate, we will be rid of him.”
“ Now now Imakarum, just because he is inconvenient does not mean he cannot be useful. Losing Boston was also inconvenient, but necessary.” Once more the screens flickered out, dimming the chamber.
Mirabalis accepted his masters chiding silently, but took the change of topic in stride. “The ACTF has entrenched themselves in Washington DC, using our previous headquarters there as their base of operations. They are currently ransacking the Boston facility for materials. For all the good it does them.”
“What of the anomaly? The combat extrapolation was flawless, except for the secondary base. It should not have required the Gigantic. Is there any indication of what occurred there?”
Imakarum shrugged inwardly. “Nothing concrete, Lord. Our best guess is the obvious; Guyver 1, either as a show of ability, or to deal with an unforeseen occurrence, used the Gigantic in the battle. The anomalous explosion that was detected could not be traced back to anything in the facility. Unfortunately, no Eye of Chronos was in position to capture the events. The Eastern Americas satellite experienced a total failure approximately 7 hours before the assault, and the replacement did not arrive in position until after the battle ended.”
“Has the satellite been examined to determine its fault?”
Imakarum grimaced as he shook his head. “The satellite was not recovered, Master. The failure seems to have been caused by an object entering earth’s atmosphere, possibly a short-term meteorite. The satellite burned up in the atmosphere after being knocked from its orbit and was unrecoverable.”
“This is troubling; do you see a pattern, Imakarum?”
“It is concerning that so many unknown elements are in such close proximity, my Lord… but I cannot see anything which connects the two separate events.”
“Three, Imakarum. Three events.” The screen once again brightened showing an orbital photograph of the coast of the Eastern Seaboard of the once United States. “This is a calibration scan from the new satellite.” The image shifted to a clashing display of reds, yellows, blues and whites. “This is the Infrared spectrum.” A second image appeared next to the first, this one seeming identical.
“This is the last calibration photograph taken from the original satellite, only a few hours before it was disabled. Let us eliminate all data that has not significantly changed.” The colored bands reflecting ambient heat around city centers, factories, power plants and other sources of heat one by one winked out as the computers compared and discarded them.
Until finally only two remained: an abnormally hot patch in Boston… and a small, oddly shaped blotch up in the mountains. The computer gave a real time image of both coordinates. Boston looked a little worse for wear; the damage to some parts of the city was extensive. Smoke still billowed up from the blasted buildings surrounding the area where the ACTF’s odd armored transport had exploded. A similar column of smoke rose from the abandoned structure that had been Chronos’ backup base. A long perfectly straight scar cut out from the structure, running down into the Atlantic, the evidence of the Gigantic’s Megasmasher.
As Imakarum’s attention turned to the other, he blinked in surprise, leaning forward so as not to miss a single detail. “What?”
There before him was a conical swath a bare earth, radiating out along a mountain slope, hopping a low valley to carve across the top of the next rise, the unmistakable evidence of the use of a powerful weapon. “A megasmasher?”
“It would seem to fit the blast pattern.” Alkenphel mused almost to himself. “But there is no evidence of any reason for any of the Guyvers to be present in that area. Nor any reason for a battle to take place there. We have virtually no presence in that barely inhabited region.”
The slender hand waved at the screens and once more they obediently darkened. The chair smoothly swiveled, bringing its occupant into full view. The delicate, almost pretty elvish features beneath the mane of platinum blonde hair would have been startling to some, but Imakarum showed no sign that they were at all out of place. The cat-slitted eyes regarded him thoughtfully for a few moments.
“This of course, suggests a few possible explanations: One, the ACTF had some presence there, some sort of facility. And in preparation for their assault on Boston, or even fear that we might locate it, they dispatched a Guyver to destroy it. Two, an unscheduled zoanoid patrol encountered a resistance cell, and a Guyver was present to ambush the patrol. Or three, an unknown third agency, motives unknown, methods unknown.”
Imakarum nodded. “The first two seem much more likely, my Lord.”
“You dislike unknowns, don’t you Imakarum?”
“I believe the simplest answer is often the correct one, Master.”
Imakarum could tell by the smile on his Lord’s face that what he said had amused him. The elf’s alien eyes sparkled with mischief. “Yet what is ever simple with life? In any case, you will dispatch a research team to examine the rubble in the blast zone, see if they can determine it’s possible target.”
Bowing low, Imakarum easily rose to his feet. “As you wish, Master. I will attend to the matter directly.” With that, he turned to depart intent on completing the objectives set for him.
“Also, have the Eyes reconfigured to provide a constant survey of near Earth objects. If any more meteorites are going to take out our satellites I’d prefer to know about them.”
Imakarum paused, surprised by the seemingly incongruous command. “Master that will require many resources, resources that may delay much of our current research projects.” Imakarum shifted uneasily, he never liked being forced to gainsay his Lord, even tacitly.
“I am aware of that Imakarum. Make it a long-term project but immediately upgrade the ones over our major operation centers starting with this base. I would prefer to know if anything larger is going to penetrate our atmosphere.”
Imakarum nodded. “As you wish, Master. I will keep you updated on our progress.” Sketching a low bow once again, he turned and quickly departed, leaving Alkenphel sitting alone in the dimness of his sanctuary. He sat for a moment longer, regarding the place his underling had last occupied, lost in thought. A flick of his hand turned his chair back towards the screen, a twitch of a finger activated them once again, displaying a three-dimensional earth, surrounded by tiny pinpricks of red light.
His eyes narrowed and the computers began to work on his latest rumination, accessing the last few seconds of positional and directional information from the downed satellite. In the brief instant before contact was lost, a sudden shift in velocity and heading was enough to extrapolate.
A blue dot appeared above the satellite, in the best guess of the direction of the force that had knocked it from orbit. The dot extended into a blue line that knifed down through the red dot, and then extended into a probability cone that widened as it descended to the surface, sketching out an area that covered much of the northern New England countryside, including, coincidentally, the region of the Pocono Mountains that contained the anomaly.
“What are you doing here?” Alkenphel whispered quietly before with a wave of his hand the screen again went black.