Harpia entered the med bay unsuspecting and unaware. He didn't even see the blue blur that jumped on him and pinned his arms to his side in joyful greeting. “Harpy!”

“Leviathan, you're awake!” Harpuia said, stating the obvious.

“Yep, these people fixed me up,” she answered, “But speaking of them, aren't they Resistance Soldiers? What are we doing here?”

“Its a long complicated story so I'll just give you the important stuff ok?”

Leviathan nodded, listening.

“We were deemed useless and attacked by Master X if you remember. After that attack the Resistance saved us by warping us to their base. That base was attacked and we were transported here to their new base.”

Leviathan whistled and looked around, “Nice upgrade from that hole in the ground they had… Everything in the room sparkles with polish. But what's our next move brother?”

“Our next move… Their leader Ciel revealed to me that the X who attacked us was a copy. Built by her nontheless. You remember that period of time that our master disappeared don't you? The people began to riot and one day just reappeared. That must have been the copy because shortly after we recieved the new orders, to start retiring energy wasting maverick reploids.”

“So you think we should leave and look for Master X?” Leviathan asked. “The real one?”

Harpuia shook his head. “No. I think we should stay here. We'd have more luck finding him with their help. And…”

“Harpuia! Have you become attached to them?”

Harpuia shook his head, “Not at all. You'll see it when you leave the med bay, but most of them aren't exactly kind to us. And with good reason. But they don't seem like mavericks to me… I can actually sympathize with their cause. It seems right. When we do find our Master I'm going to push for a peaceful solution to this fighting.”

“Fair enough,” Leviathan said. “We're going to get a decent amount of heat from both sides though. The people are going to be shocked when they hear the Four Guardians have become traitors.”

Harpuia cringed. “Oh come on, don't tell me you hadn't thought of that?” Leviathan asked him.

“No its not that its… Dammit I guess you should know.” Harpuia took a deep breath. “Phantom is dead. And the Resistance have no knowledge on Fefnir, only that he was last seen fighting with Zero. And if you remember the duel those two had in the desert, its safe to say he's dead as well.”

Leviathan was stunned, she sat blinking back tears. It was hard to conceive. Two of her siblings… dead. She threw herself once more on Harpuia and began sobbing on his shoulder. He was all she had left now.

“Dr. Ciel?” It was a few hours later and Leviathan peered into the brand new labratory that was located next to the med bay and spotted the young scientist typing away at a computer next to a large tank which housed a cyber elf. At the sound of her name Ciel looked up.

“Leviathan, good to see you're up and about again. We were worried.”

“I brought her up to speed on everything we'd talked about,” Harpuia said, walking into the room behind his sister.

“What're you working on?” Leviathan asked. She was pointing to the cyber elf behind Ciel.

“This is a cyber elf that Commander Elpizo stole when he escaped from Neo Arcadia. See the bright glow it gives off? I'm experimenting on it to see if I can harness energy the same way it does. I want to end the energy crisis and this war through the power of science.”

“You've got a nice labatory here,” Harpuia observed. “Elpizo had your interests in mind when he designed this place.”

Ciel nodded. “Yes. To be completely honest I'm glad he's taken control and I can go back to being a simple scientist. I don't know if I was a very good commander…”

There was silence for a moment as neither Harpuia or Leviathan knew how to respond. Leviathan decided to change the subject. Anyway, the reason we came in to bug you was because we noticed you had an extra spot in your room. Mind if I bunk with you?”

“That'd be just fine,” Ciel answered, “In fact that might be best since I know not everyone is fond of the idea of having two of the Guardians in this base. I can see you not wanting to live with those kind of people.”

“I'm sure they'll come around… in time.” Harpuia answered. “All we can do now is continue to offer support.”

“We'll let you get back to your work,” Leviathan added. “Thanks again Dr. Ciel.”

“Its just Ciel,” the doctor added as the guardians left.

Harpuia and Leviathan were in Levi and Ciel's new room making beds and straightening everything. Finally Leviathan sighed and leaned her Frost Spear up against the wall.

“That about does it,” she declared. “I think now we might as well explore the base, maybe get your armor looked at while we're at it.”

Harpuia looked down. In his concern for his sister and in the abruptness of the events that'd followed he'd completely forgotten about the state of his armor. While he wasn't seriously damaged, holding off an entire armor of pantheons wasn't exactly simple. His energy was tapped as well from all the lightning and sword beams he'd been casting.

“I think I'm going to change into something less imposing,” Leviathan continued. “Can you, you know, give a girl some privacy? Maybe go look for a room for yourself while you're waiting.”

Harpuia nodded and left the room. That was another thing he hadn't done in the chaos of the last couple hours. He examined the doors to the right of Leviathan's. Raven and Zanji. Rioku and Vector.. both taken. He walked down to the other end of the hall to examine 3A. The only name on the door was Elpizo's. Harpuia didn't especially care for the new commander's attitude but they could be cival towards each other. As Harpuia raised his hand to knock the door opened and Elpizo came out.

“No,” was all he said before he walked onto the elevator and zoomed upwards.

Harpuia was taken back for a moment by this abrupt refusal but walked over to the elevator and waited for it to come back. He'd have to check out the second floor. 2B was vacant. Harpuia sighed and crashed onto the bed in his new room. It would have to do. Still, he wasn't crazy about the idea of his sister on a floor exclusively populated with males..

Zero felt amazing, this new armor was unlike any he'd tried on before. Golden spikes jutted out of his red frame and extra plating was added to his existing armor.

“How to you like the Hyper Arcadian Armor?” X asked, walking into the room, “Have you tried gliding yet?”

“Gliding?” Zero asked.

“Sure, you think these wings are for show?” X asked, transforming into his own golden armor and demonstrating. “Why, this is better than the Ultimate Armor… That's it!!”

“Wait, what's it?” Zero asked.

“The Ultimate Armor!” X cried, grabbing Zero by the hand and dragging him from the room.

Zero followed X into the throne room. X walked behind the gigantic x he liked to sit in and began to punch a code into a hidden numbers pad.

“What's down there?” Zero asked as a door opened to reveal a hidden staircase.

“Come down and find out,” X answered, “Just don't… touch anything.”

Zero followed X down the stairs into what appeared to be a combination of a safe, a bomb shelter and a personal command room. There wasn't much to it, a few subtanks laying around and X's other personal effects. X sat down at a computer and called up a file on the Ultimate Armor. A bulky yet sleek black suit appeared on the monitor.

“This will be our new guardian,” X said. He inserted a disk into the computer which copied the armor's data and walked over to a large machine by the back wall. “This hasn't been used in years,” he told Zero. “Last time it was turned on we got Leviathan. And that was before the Elf Wars. Now…”

“Wait, are you sure you want to give up that armor?” Zero asked, “Is the Hyper Arcadian armor that much better?”

“Depends on what you want,” X answered, “The Hyper armor allows for much more speed and mobility and in some situations would be more useful than the Ultimate armor. In any case, the Ultimate armor is useless to me, there's some sort of… glitch. And I haven't been able to access it for my personal use. We may as well make a guardian out of it.”

“In that case,” Zero replied, “I might have something to contribute as well.”

There was a violent shake and it was then that Zero noticed the cyber elf in the tank behind him.

“Ah that,” said X. “Pay no attention to that, my technicians are just running some tests on it.”

Zero didn't reply, he stood transfixed on the cyber elf until X grabbed his arm and shook him. “We going to make some new guardians here or what?”

Zero shook his head, “Yes of course. Sorry about that.”

X and Zero were almost finished when a red light on X's arm began blinking. “I'm being hailed. Lets go.”

The two climbed up the stairs and back into the throne room. X seated himself comfortably in his massive x chair and motioned to the pantheon guards to admit his guest.

Zero stood beside X and watched as a fat man in white clothing marched into the room. He had a white cape with a violet underside and golden edging. But it was the way in which this man carried himself, moreso than his clothing, that told Zero that this was a man of some importance.

“Chief Justice LeCactank,” X addressed him, “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

The judge stopped short of X and planted his cane in the ground. “The Eight Judges have recently become aware that you've finally defeated the resisting mavericks. It seems congratulations are in order.”

X didn't speak and LeCactank continued, “However, it seems you have done so at the cost of thousands of pantheons. And now Judges Flizard and Foxtar, who have just completed tours of you factories have informed me that you are in the process of creating a new army, larger than the one you've just thrown away!”

“You know its been far too long since the troops have had an upgrade,” X told him, “And now that Zero has graciously allowed us the use of his blueprints we couldn't ask for a better time.”

“That may be X,” LeCactank said, his large mustache quivering, “But with the resistance mavericks finished we should be looking at downsizing the army! We're in the middle of an energy crisis in case you didn't know! Not to mention the outrageous taxes you're imposing on the people.”

“Oh but you'll find there is need,” X whispered, a ghost of a smile on his face. “Mat, come show the judge.”

Judge LeCactank looked around to see who X was speaking to but he saw no one. Then someone stepped on his toe in a mad rush to get to X's side. “Is that a mettool?”

“Rare nowadays,” X said. “We procured this one from the resistance after their assault on the capital. We've since had it reprogrammed and sent it along to attack their base. Show him what you heard Mat.”

The little met bobbed up and down as if to say yes and activated a hologram projector from his mouth. LeCactank could see an image of the resistance leaders talking.

“I didn't think we'd ever come back here,” Elpizo was saying. “And its the only way to cover our escape. We can't go on foot or we'll be followed, and we can't leave with the coordinates in your trans server or they'll know where we are. Besides, if it works we'll destroy thousands of pantheons in the process! Hell, the Arcadians might even think they've wiped out the Resistance! This will allow us to bide our time and strike with secrecy. We-”

The recording was cut off X motioned for the met to stop playing. “How did he survive?” LeCactank wanted to know. “The explosion wiped out their base..”

Mat retreated under his helmet as if to answer. “Whoever designed these helmets was a genius,” X replied, “They can withstand just about anything. Shame they went out of production. But that's not important. What's important is that the resistance has escaped and is still out there! I've deployed scouts to search for their new base.”

“You imbecile!” LeCactank burst out, “This entire war started because you convinced the people you needed to stop energy wasting mavericks! The war itself, the troops you're producing as we speak is wasting far more energy than if we'd simply left them alone!”

“I will do as I deem necessary,” X answered. “And right now I'm creating more troops. As well as some new Guardians. We'll need them you see, as two of the four have fallen and the other two have joined the renegade scum.”

This news caused the judge's eyes to bulge. He'd never have believed that any of the Four would turn against Neo Arcadia. “You are in charge of the defense of this city. You are its leader. But that does not grant you right to do whatever you please. You have not heard the last of us X.”

“Until then,” X said in way of goodbye as the guards escorted the judge out.

- 3 days later -

“Commander!” One of the control room techs called out to Elpizo as he strode into the room. “We were just about to summon you. I think you need to see this.”

Elpizo's gaze shifted to the television screen which seemed to be recording live from Neo Arcadia. Elpizo's lip curled. “Play it on every television we have here,” he spat.

Meanwhile, the Eight Judges had gathered together to discuss X's latest power struggle with them.

“So he is still expanding the military power,” Judge LeCatank was finishing, “And he's admitted that he's in the process of training some new guardians as well.”

“Here are the schematics for the new type of pantheon,” Flizard broke in. He snapped his fingers and a hologram appeared above the table to showcase the new model. Unlike most of the other models, its color was red and it had a green saber implanted in its right arm. “As you all know, this pantheon will be taking the place of the old shock armed ones and will serve as the new melee units for X's army.”

“While Flizard was examining the new model,” Foxtar said, “I went around gathering cost information. The new model, referred to as the blade pantheon, will cost approximately two and a half times more than the old shock armed ones and are expected to be produced in mass. They aren't exactly sure when they'll stop making them, X hasn't specified a number for his order. For the time being the factories will be churning these things out nonstop.”

“That babarian!” shouted Judge Schilt, banging his fist on the table, “He'll destroy us from the inside!”

LeCatank nodded solemnly. “That is why we are here today. We have sat by this last year and watched as Neo Arcadia's policies and laws were thrown away, as the very government we served become a dictatorship. We must decide on a course of action.”

“Excuse me Judge LeCatank.” Inarabitta's voice came from down the tabe, “You aren't suggesting open rebellion are you? I'm against the new laws as much as you but this is X we're talking about… The people love him, taxes or no.”

“We will do what we must in accordance with the law,” Foxtar told him. “Judge Biblio, as historian can you tell us what options we have?”

“Certainly.” The old judge stood up. “I have been scouring the ancient library for that answer myself. We, the Eight Judges can do nothing directly to remove X from power. However, if the citizens of Neo Arcadia vote to remove X then we would rule in his place until a new leader is elected… But of course this has never yet happened, X was the founder of this city and has protected it all these long years. But in light of these new events, his hero status may be fading. We may have a chance to remove him.”

LeCatank nodded. “If we chose to discredit X we must do so quietly. To spread discord or publicly slander X would be suicide. If the people do not destroy us then X will label us mavericks.. If we take this path we must do so through agents who have no connection to us and-”

Judge LeCatank stopped short when there was a knock on the door. “Enter.”

The door opened and Judge Mantisk slipped into the room. “Late again!” Inarabitta pipped up, “Couldn't tear yourself away from your garden?”

Mantisk strode over to the table and turned off the image of the blade pantheon which was still revolving. He turned a few nobs an a new hologram appeared in its place. It was a live image of the Neo Arcadia streets. There was a parade taking place and in the lead float sat X and Zero.

”-spoke out earlier about the betrayal of his guardians which caught him completely offguard. Apparently it was only with their aid that they breached the city boarders at all. Joning X atop the lead float is Zero, who fought with X long ago to end the maverick wars. He had been reportedly fighting with memory problems and so fighting alongside the resistant mavericks. After driving them out of the capital, the two chased the mavericks back to their base where they were defeated. Apparently there are more mavericks out there as X has ordered the creation of a new army in precaution, this one based off of Zero.”

The newscaster went on to talk more about the new blade pantheon and Biblio switched the hologram off. “So much for garnering public opinion.”

Leviathan and Ciel had finished up their swim and had gone into their room to change when their television turned on as if with a will of its own and showed the parade broadcast.

Ciel clapped her hands to her mouth in horror. “I can't believe he'd join X Levi.. Levi?”

She turned around but the blue haired guardian was gone.

“There you are,” Harpuia said, spotting his sister. “Quick, we've no time to lose.”

“You heard the news as well huh?”

“Of course I did, someone made sure it was played over every television in the base. And you heard what the announcer said, they know we're still out here.”

“It will require all of our power to keep this base hidden.” Leviathan said.

Harpuia nodded, “It'll have to look convincing too. Now lets go.”

“Recall all the patrols, get everyone inside!” Elpizo was yelling. “Seal off the doors after everyone is back in!” Troops ran out to obey Elpizo's direct orders.

“Sir,” one said to him, gesturing to the computer he sat at, “The storm just shot up, we can't understand it. There hasn't been a cloud in the sky all day and now we're being battered with typhoon winds.”

Elpizo's eyes narrowed and he walked a short distance away so as not to be heard before keying in a specific frequency into his comm. “Find me those guardians.”

Another bolt of lightning split through the sky. Hirondelle gripped the controls to his jetpack tightly. He didn't like being outside, whipped around by typhoon winds. He was starting to think the guardians were inside and that Elpizo was a fool and he ought to head back in when he spotted Leviathan down by the beach.

She was still in her bikini Hirondelle noted, she'd run out here even before changing. And now she was kneeling down in the shallow water, staff buried in the wet and in front of her and letting the tide wash over her. And what a high tide it was, Hirondelle watched as enormous waves crashed over her and battered the small island behind her. After each wave subsided however, Leviathan would be revealed once more, apparently unmoved.

Finally Hirondelle peeled away to go search for her brother, who was proving much more elusive. The resistance member rose higher into the air trying to get a better view and was almost struck by lightning. Hirondelle cursed himself and wheeled back around toward Resistance Base and in that instant he saw him. Lightning split the sky once more and in that moment everything was bathed in a white light. Harpuia stood perched atop one of Resistance Base's guntowers.

Unlike his sister, Harpuia was not still. He had both sabers activated and was waving them about through the air as if conducting an invisible orchestra. Hirondelle had seen enough, this storm was definitely the work of the guardians.

The Neo Arcadian patrol ship rocked back and forth with the wind. Its pantheon pilots struggled to keep the ship on course through the raging storm. But they were finally approaching the island.

“Fly lower you idiot, we'll be fried by the lightning!”

The ship took a dive and skimmed the surface of the water but the flight was no smoother. Waves battered the ship from below leaving them no choice but to rise once more into the wind and the electrical storm.

“Turn back, this is too dangerous. We'll tell command there's nothing out here.”

Harpuia flew down next to his sister who stood up shakily. He took her arm and helped her get to her feet and the two watched as the Neo Arcadian craft turned away.

“Do you think it worked?” Leviathan asked.

“I don't think they got close enough to see the base,” Harpuia answered, “Though they may be back at some later time. We ought to warn Elpizo that they're scouting for the new base. We can't keep up the storm forever.”

“Tell me about it, I'm beat. I've got to go power down.”

Harpuia nodded and the two opened up one of the security doors and walked into the base. “Did you have to wear that?” Harpuia asked as they boarded the elevator, “There are men here!”

Leviathan scowled, “It was a nice day, so what?”

Harpuia turned away, too exhausted to press the issue. It was a fight for another time, he was sure they'd but heads again over it.

He stepped off the elevator and staggered over to his door, too tired even to notice Shirley's earlier handiwork. The door opened and Harpuia crashed onto his bed for a much needed rest.

“So the ship didn't get within range of the base?”

The night had passed uneventfully and Hirondelle was just finishing up his report to Commander Elpizo.

“I don't think so sir,” Hirondelle replied, “They were still pretty far off and it was quite dark. It was definately a Neo Arcadian spy craft though.”

Elpizo considered. Neo Arcadia knew somehow that they had survived the assault on their first base and now it seemed they were searching for the new one. Had Harpuia and Leviathan saved them or was it a carefully laid out trap? Either way, the enemy knew they still existed… Something would have to be done.

“Well done Hirondelle. Now go fetch the guardians for me, I need to speak with them.”

Hirondelle nodded and opened the door but jumped in surprise, Harpuia and Leviathan were already standing there. Harpuia had just raised his arm to activate the door controls but stepped aside to let Hirondelle pass before entering with his sister.

“So you're here,” Elpizo said. “Maybe you'd like to tell me about that little stunt last night?”

“Stunt?” Harpuia asked taken back, “No, we were-”

“You were flooding the lower level with tidal waves and jamming our radar!” Elpizo roared.

“Please sir,” Leviathan spoke up, “You don't understand. After we saw the television broadcast we realized that they knew we were still alive and that they'd be sending spy craft out looking for us. It might have been here already for all we knew, there wasn't time to tell anyon-”

“You were in the room with Ciel when you heard it, you couldn't mentioned that you were stepping outside to conjure a typhoon!”

Leviathan blinked. “I.. didn't think of that.”

“Either way, we can't keep doing that,” Harpuia said, “And they're going to keep sending out spy craft until they find us. You need a better way to hide yourselves.”

“And what would you suggest?” Elpizo demanded “Since you seem to know everything.”

Harpuia shrugged.

“Hologram technology.” Elpizo and Harpuia turned to stare at Leviathan. “We could make the base look like nothing more than a giant rock, all we'd have to do is go into one of the Neo Arcadian factories and help ourselves to the technology.”

Elpizo considered. “Thats not a terrible idea… do you have the coordinates?”

Leviathan shook her head, “Not off the top of my head, no. I can find them easily enough though.”

“Then hurry and go do it, I want a look at the place before I send in troops.”


Everyone had been called into the command room which now had a large table assembled on top of the teleportation pad. Once everyone had taken their seats Elpizo stood up to begin the briefing.

“As most of you are aware, a large thunderstorm occurred late last night. This was the work of the two guardians currently staying here in apparent effort to drive off a Neo Arcadian scout ship. If you look around you will notice they are not here. The pair are outside now ready to call up another storm if the need arises, after last night we disbatched a number of people to Neo Arcadia to watch for more ships. If they give the word Leviathan and Harpuia will call up another storm.”

Elpizo paused looking around for any response. There was none yet, though Shirley was surely considering it. Elpizo decided to continue.

“As those of you who saw the Arcadian television broadcast are no doubt aware, Zero has betrayed us. Though perhaps the more important part of the broadcast was that they know we survived. I had wanted to wait a few weeks before setting out on a new mission, biding our time and carefully evaluating the best possible targets before we strike with surprise. But that was not to be and it is out of necessity that we must undertake this mission. The guardians can not keep up the storm ruse forever. We have located a facility where Neo Arcadia conducts stealth experiments. We hope to slip in, take it over and help ourselves to the necessary equipment that will camouflage our base. Even though this one is better defended than the last, we wouldn't last long if Neo Arcadia discovered and besieged us.”

Elpizo snapped his fingers and an image of the factory appeared above the table. “The factory itself is quite large. Our point of entry will be here, at the supply garage. We've managed to steal one of their trucks, the plan is to hide in the back and slip into the factory unnoticed. After we're in we'll move into the main facility where we'll have to destroy four power generators to gain access to the upper floor, which is their administrative area. Only the executives have access up there so we'll have to grab one when they come down to check why their generators are offline. After we've done that we'll find out where they're keeping the stealth material and get out. And if we get lucky enough to take the place over with no one radioing for help we may be able to use the facility for ourselves, for a few days at least until someone comes to check the place.”

Elpizo turned the factory image off. “The guardians will not be joining us this mission in case they are needed for the storm. However, if there is some emergency we can call them and transport one of them to us with a portable trans server. Hopefully it doesn't come to that. We have to secure this base, no matter the cost.”

The team, led by Elpizo were transported into the desert, about a mile from the factory where the stolen vehicle was waiting. After everyone had boarded Elpizo started the engine and set off.

The truck lurched forward and began its journey down the hot sandy road. Soldiers trying to sneak a look out the back would only see a large cloud of dust. Soon enough though they'd come to a stop just outside of a large fenced in area. The robotic monotone of the pantheon could be heard.

“Present identification.”

Those in the back waited quietly, silently praying the scheme would work. Apparently Elpizo's code passed because the gate in front of them could be heard opening. “Move on to Warehouse 2,” said the pantheon.

The truck rumbled to life once more and drove slowly around the complex to the designated area, presumably Warehouse 2. The vehicle slowed to a stop and the engine cut out. “All clear everyone,” came Elpizo's voice, “There's no one here but us for the moment.”

One by one the troops hopped out the back and looked around. “Remember, our mission is to take out enough generators to slow down production, probably four, so that one of the executives will come down and check it out. Once that happens we grab him, get his ID and help ourselves to whatever stealth material they have. And if we can take out all the guards while causing minimal damage to the factory we can use it for ourselves until Neo Arcadia comes to check why shipments have stopped coming. They don't know we're here, let's leave it that way until they're dead on the floor.”

The resistance forces moved from the loading dock into the factory and quickly split off, stealthily taking down guards and disrupting security wherever they could.

A pantheon drone resumed its walk around the factory after taking one last look around the room. No one there, no one ever was. As it opened the door to the hallway Elpizo plunged his rapier into its back and whipped it back out just as quickly for an upward slash. The pantheon fell into the hallway with a small thud.

Elpizo had been following the guard for some time now, letting it do the job of leading him deeper into the factory. Additionally, if he followed this guard along its patrol there was less a chance he'd run into one by surprise. But the guard had outlived its usefulness, it had finally brought him to a generator. Elpizo stepped into the hallway to retrieve the pantheon and saw a familiar face.

“Oh hello,” he said to Rioku, surprised to see him. “Care to give me a hand with this, there's a closet in this room.”

After hiding the body the two returned to the hallway where one of the generators was clearly visible through a window on the side. There was a security door but it wasn't locked.

“Greetings, Name's Stark, Yeah the new guy. Anyway, another guy and I have reached the southern block Generator. Has anyone reached the Northern one? If so let us know so we can do a synchronized disable on both sets of generators. Otherwise, Elpizo, permission to kill this generator?”

“This is Elpizo, I can read you Stark but there's a bit of static… anyway Rioku and I have reached our first generator. You may take them out at any time, and it doesn't really matter how. On the off chance we take this place without raising an alarm we won't hold it long anyway. A big place like this has more than four generators anyway, doesn't really matter if you cause irreparable damage.”

Elpizo paused for a moment severing a bundle of cords with his rapier. He waited, training his ears for the alarm but there was none that he could hear. The generator whined and ground to a halt, completely powerless.

“Stark? I've deactivated my generator, no alarm that I can hear though. Its possible they think its a mechanical failure but when they all go out they'll know something is up. Or when they send the guards to see why this one is offline. But take yours out whenever you're ready and move on to the next, and as before take out any pantheon you see, just try to be quiet about it. I don't know how many troops they have in here but we don't need and alarm going off sooner than it already will.”

Phoenix Magnion frowned. First the camera, then generator? The old place was falling apart on him. The fire bird ruffled his mechanical feathers angrily. Someone as magnificent as him never should have been assigned to something as menial as guarding a factory in the first place but after Phantom was killed it seemed as though X had forgotten about his former unit. The Zan'ei Army was all but disbanded and he, Phoenix Magnion had been assigned to watch over this worn down old-

“Sir, Judge Schilt is here to see you.”

Phoenix whirled around. Blast! Those judges were everywhere lately, always wanting a tour, always asking questions. He'd known it was only a matter of time before one came to see him but he couldn't have come at a worse time.

“Tell him I'll be there in a moment,” Phoenix instructed the pantheon, “I need to send unit of guards to go get that generator back up and running.”

Phoenix had just given the order to send a mechanic to the first generator when a second one died. At this point the fire bird had to rule out mechanical failure, this was a sabotage. Angry he flicked on a television and pressed a few buttons until he got an image of the second downed generator. He rewound a bit to see Rai step out from behind Stark, who was still in guard uniform, charge up an electrical blast and short out the generator.

“Double the patrols and order them to check one another, they're wearing our uniforms.” Phoenix barked, “And I want all generators guarded by a garison of the new Blade Pantheons! And turn the automatic energy discharge on, if its not someone of executive clearance I want the generators themselves to take out anyone that comes in.”

These mavericks would pay for this insult, and for the murder of his former master… but there was the matter of Judge Schilt… he couldn't be allowed to find out that the resistance was here. He'd have to do something about him first.

The army, led by the new blade pantheons rushed out to guard the remaining generators. But the resistance members were ready, and several had grown tired of sneaking around and were anxious to fight. Unfortunately, the new model of pantheons were much faster, and more durable than the old. But the narrow corridors allowed the resistance forces to bottleneck the enemy and take them out with ranged weapons.

There was a large explosion from the third generator room, disabling the cameras. It seemed as though Shirley had taken it out herself, though caused the ceiling to collapse in the process. Minutes later, Stark arrived to free his teammate and the entire force reconvened at the final generator. Inside were a squad of pantheon guards, but before any such battle could take place a flash of flame burst from the air between them. The flame grew larger and larger until the silhouette of a reploid could be seen within.

“As much as you all deserve an agonizing death we'll have to make this quick,” said the phoenix reploid, “I've a judge waiting for me.”

This was definitely the group that had defeated his master. This confirmation of knowledge brought Phoenix to newfound alertness. This could be the moment he'd avenge him, or he could follow his fallen master to the grave. Either way, there would be no more mistakes. Reactivating the generator's energy bursts would help him as well so long as it lasted.. though it was already damaged and with all the resistance members in the room he wasn't sure he'd be able to save it.

Phoenix burst into flames once more, the already stuffy generator room was quickly getting hotter. He'd remain in this form until the battle ended, to whatever outcome.

“Well what have we here?” Phoenix asked as he scanned the room. “An officer hiding in the back. Hmm, looks injured. We'll have to take you out first.”

Phoenix swooped down to Rai who hurled the ball of electricity he'd been cradling, Phoenix easily warped out of the way and grabbed the soldier from behind and carried him away.

“Brother!” Elpizo yelled.

“Don't worry,” Phoenix laughed as Vile, Agile, Colonel and Bit crashed into Rai before dropping him. “You can be next.”

Elpizo moved to catch his brother but he found himself surrounded by four images of the fire bird. He rushed forward to stab the nearest one but found himself swiping the air. The remaining three Phoenix took the opportunity to hit him in the back with their flaming tails.

“Ahh!” Phoenix screamed in surprise as a missile struck him in the back. It seemed as though Stark had found the real one. At that moment however he was hit by an energy burst from the generator and knocked back to his knees.

“Hmmph, serves you right,” muttered Phoenix Magnion as he rose high into the air and gave several large flaps of his wings sending a feather volley across the room.

Everyone moved to dodge, some would some wouldn't Phoenix figured. He wasn't going to pay attention to find out, he'd zeroed in on one individual, Rioku. Gathering all the speed he could in a short time he charged into the surprised resistance member bashing him into the nearest wall. It seemed appropriate.

The combination of illusion attacks and the steady fire provided by the generator made for a grueling battle, but once again numbers won out. Distracted by the loss of the generator, Phoenix was struck by an enormous blast from Stark, who had been siphoning power during the chaos, ending the fire bird.

“Well that's that,” Elpizo said, wiping off his rapier. “Operator, transport Cerveau and the secondary team.” Within a few seconds there was a white flash of light and the aforementioned group had arrived. “Move out team,” Elpizo ordered them, “There may still be a few pantheons running around, we need them found and eliminated.”

“Phoenix, where in blazes did you get off to?” came a new voice.

The door opened and Elpizo had his rapier at Judge Schilt's throat before he could step in. “You lout!” the judge exclaimed as Elpizo backed him into a wall, “Just who do you think you are?”

“You've forgotten my face rather quickly haven't you Judge? But then I was just one of how many reploids you branded a maverick that day, no reason for you to remember TK-31.”

Schilt's darting eyes finally located the remains of Phoenix Magnion laying on the floor. “Resistance Scum!” he spat.

Elpizo ignored this and began feeling around inside Schilt's coat. “This ought to get us upstairs,” he told Rai, handing him an ID card. “Take Cerveau up there and he'll get us what we need, I'm going to stay here and keep the good judge company.”

“That should be all,” Cerveau said, placing a box in each resistance fighter's hands. “Dgoit can install all of this when you get back at the base, I'm going to stay here a bit and see if we can't use this factory for ourselves… not too long mind you but I know some of you have been waiting on elemental chips. I'm going to stay here and work on those.”

The resistance forces bid goodbye to the engineer and carried the prized stealth technology back to where Elpizo waited with Judge Schilt. There were some who argued for killing the judge, but Elpizo saw the value in keeping him alive - either for interrogation or some key exchange piece down the line. Everyone teleported out for rest and repair.