Chapter 1:

Chapter One : Incursion

Dang Convergence


CHAPTER ONE

INCURSION

One corridor. Another. And then the next.

In the midst of all the chaos, they all looked the same. Flashing red lights that were somewhat disorienting; people clad in lab coats, others in tactical security gear running in every direction with panicked expressions on their faces. And then, there was him, getting closer to the danger instead of away from it."

He came across a group of guards who’d gathered around a door that had sealed when the Institute’s alarms had gone off. Behind the door, through the glass, he saw other guards, frantic expressions of fear etched on their faces as they desperately tried to get the door open, banging against it and even firing their weapons.

“Damn door won’t open!” a guard in front of him roared.

“Step aside” he instructed.

The guards glanced back, surprised to find him there. Without asking any questions, however, they did exactly as he said. He walked towards the door, placed his hands at either side of it, felt for the slightest crack of space with his fingers and once he found it, he drew a deep breath…And then he pulled.

The door didn’t put up a fight against him. He ripped it right off and then tossed it aside. The guards who’d been behind it surged out at once, expressions of relief on their faces.

“Hurry,” he said to them. “Get to the Atreus.”

“Thank you, Gearheart.” One of the guards piped out enthusiastically. “Let’s go men.” Said the guard, standing a little taller.

The rest of the men followed in tow, each giving their savior a brief nod.

“Gearheart, huh? The mysterious figure said softly. “Some Gearheart I’m turning out to be.” He said hollowly. His thoughts started to drift towards his recent appointment when suddenly the ground shook and the klaxons snapped him out of his stupor

“No, I mustn’t’ let myself get distracted, not with so much at stake.” He growled.

Refocused, he headed straight into the room he’d just released the guards from, a room that connected into another corridor. He bolted down the corridor, making use of his body’s cyber enhancements.

He took his next right. And then a left. And then straight through a door that led him into the control hub where they were waiting.

“Our scanners aren’t picking up anything!” cried out Charles Wayne, a tall, broad-shouldered man with graying dark hair and rounded spectacles on his face. His face was spotted with freckles and he had a little scar on his chin that he’d gotten as a result of an ill-thought gamble.

“Forget the scanners, they’re definitely here,” he said, his voice an odd mix of metallic and normal. “We need to get to the ship.”

The others exchanged looks of concern and fear.

“Are you serious right now?” Charles asked. “The ship hasn’t been prepped for something like this, we won’t be able to make the jump.”

“I’ll operate the tube manually and–,” He picked up on a weird frequency then, one that cut him off mid-speech, an agonized yell escaping him. He clutched his head at once and dropped to a knee, his eyes watering rapidly. His vision scrambled out of focus while his systems glitched momentarily.

“Gearheart? Are you okay?” Charles rushed out of his seat and towards him, attempting to help him up. But the figure shook his head and shoved Charles backward.

“Get out of here,” he ordered. “GO! NOW!”

“What?” Layla Matthews, an Institute scientist, one responsible for grafting the cybernetic technology onto his body asked. “Are they–”

“Yes,” he answered, pushing back to his feet and glancing around the room they were in, still a little disoriented by the weird frequency he’d detected. “They’re here. He’s here. He’s begun his incursion.”

“Well, that’s not good,” Layla shook her head. “Our defense systems won’t hold against him.”

He turned to face the control room’s exit and held out his metallic hand. At once, a dangerous, glowing chainsaw sword jutted out from his left wrist.

“I will…..” he said with a half-finished thought. He looked to Charles and the others and immediately re-steeled himself. “I’ll clear you guys a path and you make sure you get the hell out of here.”

“No!” Layla frantically said while shaking her head. “You can’t ask us to leave you behind,” Layla said, narrowing her eyes. “You’re the mission, not us. If you’re staying back to die, so are we.”

“No, I’m not letting you guys die,” he said indicating there was no room for negotiation. “You get to the ship and let me handle things. It’s not up for debate.”

Charles sighed and pushed down on his wristwatch. Immediately it started to expand across him until he was fully clad in a silvery-suit of armor that had pulsing blue lines all around it. When he spoke again, his voice was robotic. “We knew this was coming. We gotta get the warning out, make sure he can’t win. That’s all that matters. That’s the Institute’s mission.”

There was a loud bang against the control room’s doors. They were trying to get in.

He tensed up, preparing for battle. “Alright,” he said. “Let’s do this.”

He ejected small bots (known as scavBots of his own design with a ride range of functions) from his back and gave them a simple instruction. “Go, find all the hostiles. Need to know what we’re getting into.”

The others all watched as the bots scurried up the walls and vanished into the room’s vents. Then He faced the door once more and scanned it–there were five hostiles behind the door, none human, all machines. Good, now he wouldn’t have to hold back.

He planted his feet firmly against the ground and his cybernetic armor pulsed a light blue as whirring sounds came from his feet. The others knew what was coming next and moved away from him so they wouldn’t be caught in the explosive force of it all. His eyes flashed and he surged forward at once, a trail of blue light in his wake.

Before their computing systems could even detect what was happening he blasted straight through the doors and took out all five of the machines that were behind it. However, one of them hadn’t been fully destroyed and fired a weak blast at him that deflected right off his armor.

A growl escaped him and he shot the machine a murderous look before placing a foot on the machine’s chest and ripping its head right off, sparks started flying off of the now exposed wires.

All around him, he could...hear screams echoing through the facility as well as the sound of laser rifles and whatnot going off. The scavBots he’d sent out completed their assignment and sent back a detailed map of the Institute. Much of the hostile forces had been directed to his current location - the West Wing. But there was another group headed for the jump hub - located in the North Wing. If they got there before he could stop them, they wouldn’t be able to get the warning out to the others.

The others stepped out of the control room. He faced Charles and placed a hand on him, uploading to him the same data he’d just gotten from the scavBots.

Charles nodded in understanding. “Go.”

“Be careful,” He warned, before turning on his heels and blasting off with explosive speed, leaving a blue trail behind in his wake. He encountered more of the machines as he went, much of them engaged in shootouts with the Institute’s security forces and they were very clearly winning, considering they’d been created for this sole purpose. Destruction. Created to help him conquer universes.

But they hadn’t been created to handle him. His cybernetic tech was ahead of any technology the machines possessed. As he slid to a stop, he created a pulse wall right in front of the security agents to act as a shield. Puzzled by his shield, the machines stopped attacking, as they began to assess a way to disable it.

He looked to the men he was shielding, men who donned tactical gear and high-tech visors, wielding the same sort of rifles that Layla had in her possession. “Can any of you move?” he asked.

“We’re hurt but we can move,” one of them replied while he helped his comrades to their feet. “What’s the directive?”

He aimed a hand at the wall to his left and charged up a pulse blast. He blasted the wall and looked to the agents. “Go,” he instructed. “There’s a group heading for the North Wing, move quickly and slow them down. I’ll continue down this path, and will meet you there..”

“Sure thing,” nodded an agent. He gave the others a nod and they ran right through the hole he had just created.

Once they were gone, He deactivated the shield. The machines prepared to fire again but he was quicker than they were. He surged forward and tore one’s head clean off before deploying a gatling gun from his chest and blasting straight through the rest. After the last machine was destroyed, his gun hissed to indicate cooldown mode activation. It then retracted back into his chest.

He drew a deep breath and then shot forward again. Instead of sprinting at super speed, he chose to take flight using his propulsion engines since it would get him to the North Wing quickly. He flew straight through a wall and emerged into the lunch room where there were security agents taking cover behind metallic tables that were being suppressed by fire from the hostiles.

The hostiles looked up as soon as he charged in and they turned their weapons on him.

“Rocket Knee!” He yelled.

His cybernetic body responded to the command by creating small self-navigating quantum missiles from his knee caps that locked onto and destroyed all the hostiles in the room. from their cover. The visors and gear that they had on had either been damaged or compromised.

“Thanks,” one of them said. He looked towards the man that spoke and noticed the name on the nametag of his lab coat was 'Robert.' He wished he hadn’t seen the name tag. Knowing the names of all these people who would likely die any moment from now made the situation very hard to deal with.

But he shook the sentiment off and reminded himself what the mission was. He couldn’t slow down now. He couldn’t think about all that stuff.

“Get to the North Wing,” He instructed, and then he shot off again. He continued to blast through wall after wall, taking out as many machines as he could as he went, freeing up enough of their own forces so they could head to the North Wing. He had to make sure the jump room wasn’t taken out during this attack.

He sustained some pretty good hits, mostly from machines that’d managed to blindside him and catch him off guard. Nothing slowed him down or hurt him too badly. The cybernetic tech did its job really well. For the price he paid, he was glad that dividends were starting to come to fruition.

He was now close to the North Wing. Once he shot past the next wall, it would be just one long hallway between him and the North Wing. He’d seen the images from the scavBots and knew fully well the kind of danger that was waiting for him in that hallway. Nevertheless, he fired up his propulsion engines again and shot ahead. Blasting straight through the wall, doing a flip in the air and executing a perfect landing on the ground, he stared straight up at the hulking brute ahead.

It wasn’t a mere machine like the others. It was a monster, a large, pale-skinned monster with spikes that jutted out of its head and ran along the length of its back and down its enormous tail–yes, it had a tail.

It had bits of metal grafted onto its shoulder, forearms, hands, wrists, and thighs and a quick scan revealed that the metal was nanotechnology, a lot similar to the kind he possessed. He knew at once that this monster was intended to stop him from getting to the jump hub on time.

The doors behind him opened and Charles charged in with Layla and the agents he had rescued. Everyone stopped at the sight of the monster ahead.

“What the actual frack is that?!” Charles cried out.

He shut his eyes and synced up with the scavBots, instructing them to go on ahead to the North Wing and protect the ship and jump hub. Once the scavBots accepted the instruction and started moving, he stared at the monster ahead and took a step forward.

The monster did the same, and the entire ground seemed to vibrate as it moved.

“Can you speak?” he asked the monster.

“Can you bleed?” the monster responded, speaking in a guttural tone. “I am Calta, destroyer of–,”

“Don’t care, didn’t ask,” He interrupted. He looked at the others and deployed another shield that would keep them from getting involved in the fight or getting caught up in any of the damage.

“What are you doing, D?!” Charles yelled immediately. “You can’t fight that thing alone!”

He smiled. “I’ve got this.”

“D, watch out!” Charles yelled, his eyes frantic.

He propelled himself out of the way just in time to avoid a sneak blast Calta had launched at him. The shield took the damage from the blast, which only caused it to pulsate, not break

He fixed his gaze on Calta and sighed. “Don’t cry before you die, okay?.”

With that, He charged at Calta, with the brute running at him too, the monster’s blue eyes glowing intensely. He, being smaller, had the speed advantage and twisted around Calta, charging into the air and landed a powerful blow on the monster’s face that sent him staggering.

Calta countered with a blow of his but he shielded himself with both hands. The impact of the blow knocked him backward and sent him crashing into a wall. Calta charged into him slamming him straight through the wall, grabbing his leg while he flew through the air before hurling him at the ground.

His propulsion engines kicked in before he hit the ground and he took flight immediately, distancing himself from the brute and scanning the creature once more so he could work with a different strategy–he’d clearly underestimated the monster’s speed.

He felt something wet on his upper lip then and wiped it away only to find that he was bleeding from his nose.

“That’s weird,” he said. “It’s been quite some time since I’ve bled.”

“Everyone bleeds before me,” Calta grinned.

“Trust me, you’ll bleed too,” He replied. His scan was complete. Calta was particularly fragile on all the sections of his body that weren’t around the grafted metal plates. This meant that much of his torso and his knee were weak points of his.

As he still hovered in the air, he deployed chainsaw swords from both hands.

“Ready to end this?” Calta asked.

“Yeah, I am.”

He shot forward again and weaved through the air in time to avoid a blow from Calta. He slashed with the chainsaw sword and felt it slice through flesh and bone as he took off the monster’s right leg.

Calta roared and fired a blast at He with his left hand but he dodged and went again, slicing at the back of the other knee and taking the other leg clean off. He then flew around Calta and stabbed him in the back.

He plunged the swords into Calta’s back slicing in every direction, the monster’s blue blood spraying in every direction. Once he was done, the monster simply twitched on the ground, bathing him in a shower of his blood.

He spat the blood from his mouth, wiped off his hands and then returned to the others to deactivate the shield.

“Wow,” Charles said, his mouth hanging wide open.

“Come on,” He said.

They all charged on ahead and into the North Wing where He and Charles instantly took out the rest of the hostiles that were troubling the scavBots. Once the hostiles were taken care of, the scavBots reintegrated with He.

The North Wing was really just one massive section. In the center of the wing was an enormous ship– known as the Ark of Atreus–that had been designed specifically for this instance: universal evacuation. Not far from the ship were a set of computers and glowing glowing tubes that made up the jump hub. Considering they hadn’t prepared for the incursion: someone would need to operate the jump hub to get the ship to function as planned.

It was evident who that would be.

He looked at the launch room then at the others. “Go now. Get on the ship, all of you. Fire it up, I’ll work the jump from the tube.”

“You can’t operate the jump alone,” Charles said. “It’s not a one-man job. I’m staying with you.”

“You’ll die if you stay.”

“You’ll die if I don’t,” Charles retorted. “I’m staying, it’s not up for debate.”

He sighed. “Fine. But the rest of you are leaving, that’s not up for debate.” He looked at Layla. “Can you work the ship’s controls?”

She nodded.

“Good. Then go.”

The others rushed toward the ship while he and Charles bolted for the jump hub. As soon as they were there, Charles immediately started prepping the jump protocol, moving swiftly and efficiently almost like he was a robot who’d been programmed for this sole purpose.

While he worked, the tubes around them started to light up, glowing a warm white. Soon, the light coming from the tubes turned a neon blue. It was ready.

He could feel the ground rumble beneath his feet as the Ark of Atreus powered up, rising into the air slowly. A hatch in the ceiling opened up to let the enormous ship through, its propellers glowed a neon purple.

“Alright, let’s send them on their way,” Charles said.

“You’re a good man” He smiled sadly at Charles and patted him on the back. “Thank you for everything.”

“All for the mission, right?” Charles smiled.

“Right,” He nodded. “For the mission. So, what next?”

“Hook up to the tubes, push the blue button, you’ll feel a surge of energy that you need to fire at the ship,” Charles answered, gesturing to a blue button on the console.

“So, a button push?” He asked. “That’s it?”

“Yep.”

“Okay, thanks,” He smiled. “Best be on your way now then.”

“What?”

The bots he had discreetly placed on Charles’ back activated and fired off their propulsion engines, shooting him upwards.

“D, I’m going to kill you for this!” Charles yelled as the bots flew him away, straight toward the Atreus which was already through the ceiling hatch. He watched the bots get Charles through the Atreus’ rapidly sealing hatch doors.

As soon as they landed him on the ship, he attempted to leap right out but he watched as Layla held him back, tears streaking down her cheeks, the ship’s hatch still sealing.

He gave Layla a nod and mouthed: “It’s okay.”

She nodded back.

And then the ship sealed entirely.

He grinned and ejected thick cables from his back, cables that moved through the air, hooking up with the tubes. He drew a deep breath as he readied himself for what he would feel next.

He pushed the button and exhaled sharply at once. His cybernetic parts started glowing intensely as the tube filled him with power unlike anything he’d ever felt.

Ready to redirect all of that energy, he aimed his left hand at the ship and charged up a blast. Upon release - an incredible blue beam engulfed the ship in a blue aura.

He watched as the ship shot off, moving faster than light and vanishing almost instantly. It was done.

He dropped to a knee immediately: surprised by how much that had taken out of him but a little glad it hadn’t disintegrated him.

He drew deep breaths and then noticed the blue glow around his hands. He hadn’t discharged all of the quantum energy. He was about to rise to his feet when the world glitched around him for a moment. A weird shock rippled throughout his body, causing him to fall to his back.

He blinked hard, a little disoriented. He rose to his feet, wincing as the world glitched out again. He stared at his hands, both still glowing and pulsing with the energy from the tubes. An idea popped into his head and he glanced at the console.

It was a potentially suicidal idea…but no, his body could take it. It had to.

He headed to the console and fired up the tubes again. He hooked up to it while watching...as they charged up with quantum energy, praying silently that this wouldn’t kill him.

The tubes charged…charged…charged…and then came the loud roar, a monstrous one, a roar of rage and murderous intent.

He spun in the direction the roar had come from and his eyes went wide at once.

It was Calta! That monstrous beast was in the middle of his regeneration…

“WE’RE NOT DONE YET!” the monster bellowed, and then broke into a sprint, charging right at him.

He reacted instinctively and fired a pulse blast that disoriented Calta for a moment, halting the beast in his tracks. He couldn’t afford to engage Calta in close-range combat right now, not while he was hooked up to potentially catastrophic levels of unstable quantum energy. He had to keep the beast at bay.

“Back so soon?” he asked, hoping to buy some time while the tubes charged. They were almost there. Any moment now. “I’d really prefer not to do this again.”

“DIE!” Calta bellowed before slamming his claws straight into the ground. He ripped up a huge chunk of the floor and then hurled it right at him.

He acted quickly, putting up a protective shield around not just himself, but the console and the tubes too. The floor chunk hit the shield and got blasted aside: smaller chunks of it flying harmlessly in every direction.

The next instant, Calta was directly in front of the shield. The monster slammed a fist into the shield and while the shield held, the impact sent a massive shockwave rippling throughout the room and he watched as cracks spread along the walls and the floor. Even his shield had sustained a little crack.

His eyes darted from left to right, from the console to the tubes. Almost there, he thought to himself.

He saw something shift in Calta’s eyes then. An expression of realization.

“Oh no you don’t!” Calta bellowed before slamming another punch into the shield. And then another. And then another, each blow sending out powerful shockwave after powerful shockwave, more cracks forming in his shield with each one. The strain of keeping up the shield had him gritting his teeth, beads of sweat were trickling down his face, and his heart was racing rapidly.

Calta landed one final blow that took apart the shield and sent him a couple steps backward. The monster lunged at him to no avail as he delivered a downward blow to Calta's head, knocking him into the ground. Using his propellers to add some more force to his kick, he sent Calta flipping through the air.

Calta, despite his size, moved nimbly in midair and landed perfectly on both feet. His regeneration was almost complete now. The beast grunted and charged right at him again. The cyberwarior deployed his scavBots once more and they flew right at Calta, swarming around the monster’s face, firing off little blasts that might not have looked like much but certainly stung like hell.

Calta roared angrily as he swatted at the scavBots, desperate to get them all off. When he did get them off, his face was red from their blasts.

He spat blood from his mouth, and started charging again.

He tensed, preparing himself, ready to counter whatever blow Calta threw. But then, just at the last instant, Calta changed course—he went right at the console instead.

“NO!” He roared.

But it was too late. The beast slammed into the console and sent sparks flying in every direction. At once, the quantum energy tubes flickered: the energy within them starting to thrum dangerously, forming cracks in the tubes.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” He bellowed.

Calta grinned evilly. “You’re not escaping. He wants you dead.”

“You’ll die first,” He hissed murderously, deploying his chainsaw swords. He moved toward Calta but halted when the world glitched around him.

Calta had noticed the glitch too since the monster looked around warily. He looked at the tubes. Some of the quantum energy was already leaking out.

And then he heard a voice.

“Where am I?” the voice asked, sounding rather confused. “What the hell is this?”

He followed the voice and stared in confusion at where it was come from. It was like a humanoid shape without form, a dark shape, a silhouette. The silhouette stood simply in one spot, its head moving from left to right as though it were studying the room.

“What--,”

Calta cut him off with an animalistic roar, charging yet again, out for blood. But he never reached him.

Just when he got close enough, the ground tremored frighteningly beneath them and he lost his balance, crashing to the ground. The cyber warrior, on the other hand, staggered but remained on his feet.

He stared at the tubes and knew what was about to happen. The quantum energy exploded right out of the tubes, and though he knew it wouldn’t do him any good, he put up a shield around himself.

The energy rippled throughout the room, the world glitching horribly. And then all of that energy seemed to converge on the silhouette, before exploding yet again.

This time, though, the explosion wasn’t a ripple of energy. It was blinding light.

A light that consumed everything.