Chapter 26:

Stabilize La Costa

A Moribund Hero

The towering twin ogres were clad in heavy duster coats, steel-rimmed black fedoras with the punk bandit symbol stamped on the hat's band. Bookmark here

Beneath their coats, their chunky legs were covered in studded leather pants and chaps over black metal boots that promised threats of smashing a head into a pancake with one stomp.Bookmark here

The skin of their bared muscly chests was a combination of metal and dark flesh. As with their butch faces that had one side covered in riveted iron plates and a freaky mechanical blue eye; the other side was just as freaky, with hardened skin, and a glaring silver eye. Bookmark here

Their lower incisors jutted out of their mouth. Like Leon, it seemed they had no hair on their heads. Another pair of biodefects.Bookmark here

They crunched their black gauntlet fists, then hovered their hands around a pair of Cybergun Colts docked into their hip holsters.Bookmark here

"A couple of badasses, huh? If we're facing off with baddies we need killer tunes." Lucy pressed play on the cassette player hooked to her belt at her side and slipped off a few dark silver-mesh discs, which were thumping with music from her player. A cocky grin stretched her lips as she twirled them in her hands and threw them at the walls.Bookmark here

Leon blinked at the blaring punk rock music rebounding around the chamber via the discs. Was she trying to make a cave-in? It seemed so when he noticed a weak spot had formed above some of the lackeys' heads. He stepped forward, aimed, and fired at the weak spot. Chunks of ore fell to knock out half of the numbers.Bookmark here

"Even fight."Bookmark here

The ogre twins and remaining bandits snapped out of the surprise attack.Bookmark here

Soon, the chamber was swelling with melee attacks to fast-paced battle music, where a man was crooning threats to, 'F the Pigs to Chopped Liver'.Bookmark here

Lackeys flexed their cat o' nine tails to whip shock bolts at them. Lucy cursed when one of them silenced her music discs. She retaliated with gunfire that knocked out lackey numbers.Bookmark here

But the real threat to a cave was the heavy-handed fist attacks from the ogre twins. Each punch smashed off rock chunks with static sparks. When the ogres weren't mining ore with their punches, their fedoras spun through the space as a pair of spinning blades to slice or stab at the rocks.Bookmark here

Most of the spinning hat attacks were aimed at Leon, who evaded them with skillful twists, leaps, and turns. Whilst doing so, shooting or punching a lackey out of his way.Bookmark here

Wolf noticed that Leon moved faster, the deadlier the attack. Indeed, the man was like a jackrabbit.Bookmark here

Speaking of. Rabbit used her stealth ability to perform sneak attacks on the weaker bandits to thin the numbers. She barely missed flaying attacks from their electric cat o' nine tails. Wolf backed her attacks with hand combat.Bookmark here

Heavy dust and showers of minute shale gathered around their fighting. Regular tremors were felt to mess with timed blows.Bookmark here

When the ogre twins noticed their footing was unstable, they bellowed with frustration and attacked harder. Leon and Wolf synchronized their hand combat moves to counter the heavy-handed punches, making the ogres' fists slam into walls, so the ground beneath their feet started splitting.Bookmark here

Seeing no choice, the ogres and the remaining two lackeys retreated, using smoke to cover their exit.Bookmark here

"Bloody cowards!" Lucy hissed when the exit door was a mess on the ground.Bookmark here

Wolf stopped her from running after them. He reminded her that they had to stabilize the mine, which was still releasing tremors.Bookmark here

They waited for most of the dust to settle, then went about their task.Bookmark here

Lucy complained about starving and wanting to chill when she collected her tiny music discs strewn about the chamber's mess of shale and bodies. She inspected the disc's condition before stowing them back into their slots on her player.Bookmark here

The squad spent some time applying metal patches to key veins on the walls. Wolf explained to Leon that the patches were akin to tuning forks. It would release signals to neutralize the magic frequencies that were disrupting the stone. They only needed to apply a few on the veins that had clear links to the rest of the stone network.Bookmark here

When all the discs had been placed, Wolf called up a digital, semi-transparent, keyboard and monitor from the CPU chips in his gauntlets. He opened a terrain application that scanned for seismic wave lines, then lined them up with the discs' sonic wave lines. When the lines matched, he activated a command that made the ground quake momentarily before the mine was still.Bookmark here

Leon noticed the stench of sulfur had drastically faded, with the rest of it being blown out the door.Bookmark here

"That should do it." Wolf sighed with relief.Bookmark here

"We don't need to back up Squad43, do we?" Lucy said, hoping she could clock off early. Definitely had been one crazy day.Bookmark here

"Yep. Sorry, lass. Hold out for a bit more." He slapped her back.Bookmark here

"Fine." She sighed.Bookmark here

They tagged the bodies for a cleanup crew, then left the mines to rejoin Squad43's efforts in neutralizing the magic nearby. Stromm's squad was having a hard time doing so with bandit attacks. It was a welcomed relief when Squad42 arrived on the scene to handle the bandits and let them do the neutralizing.Bookmark here

A bell tolled when the magic discharge was finally dealt with. It was obviously a retreat signal for the bandits still alive. Both sides could live to fight another day. But from where Lucy stood, they were the winners, having taken out a muther load of the bandits' numbers and stopping magic from causing lasting damages in the area.Bookmark here

Stromm heartily thanked his comrades' for their timely aid, but argued with Wolf that they had more bandit kills to their tally, so the winners. Of course, Wolf countered the claim by listing out the weirdos they had fought. The day ended calmly with hearty banter.Bookmark here

Avril was waiting up for her squad when they returned to base.Bookmark here

"Leon. Rabbit. Follow me," she said when she had dismissed Wolf and Lucy.Bookmark here

They followed her into the middle dark wood booth that was a lift down into a spacious underground office.Bookmark here

Seated at the café table to one corner was a man and woman wearing white hooded robes. Their robes bore the star crown emblems of Eleutheria on their chests. They paused from their dainty sips of tea to stare at Leon and Rabbit.Bookmark here

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