Elpizo slowed the train to a stop once they'd entered the factory. “Oh good,” he said after peering out the window, “They know we're here.”

Sure enough, there was a large force of pantheons waiting at the loading dock, weapons ready for battle.

“Alright,” Elpizo said to those who were in the cabin with him, “Somehow we have to find the computer with the data on Project Ironclad and wipe it. After that's done we can find the prototypes themselves, probably in the garage. But first, we have a lovely little welcome outside. And I'm open to suggestion.”

“Um, why can't we steal the data and use it for ourselves?” Rioku asked. And just after his question was asked, Vector stepped in. “And as for suggestions about what to do with the enemy outside, We can either make a horrible attempt to sneak by or we can commence on a trojan horse attack. I'm here, and with that being said, we have more than enough firepower to make our way across the base, while a smaller unit goes about tracking down and dealing with the data or whatever.”

Elpizo considered, “We don't have the technology or the resources to produce them like Neo Arcadia does… but I suppose we could steal the plans and produce them if we ever capture and manage to hold down another of their factories… So we'll revise the mission objective to seize the data if at all possible.”

At that moment Harpuia and Leviathan entered the car via door in the back. “You've noticed the troops outside?” Leviathan asked.

Elpizo nodded, “We were just deciding how best to deal with that, we were thinking an attack force would distact them while the rest slipped in unnoticed. Feel up to helping with that?”

The pair of guardians nodded as a series of blasts began striking the train. “Sounds like they're not going to wait for us to come out,” Harpuia commented, “Whatever we're going to do, lets do it fast.”

The pantheons opened fire, prompting Leviathan to quickly erect a barrier of ice which would buy them time. Those with ranged weapons used the ice for cover and fired pot shots, giving Harpuia enough time to rise into the air and rain lightning down on the welcome party.

The entire team rushed into the factory interior, sewing confusion and havok as much as they could. Stark activated the alarm and sprinklers in other areas of the facility, hoping to make the enemy think they were in all locations at once. Elpizo joined Stark and Shirley by the mainframes and began downloading the data.

As the data fed through the device, Stark and Shirley made quick work of the surrounding equipment, lab notes and test data. Elpizo placed a small charge on the mainframe and primed it. As soon as they'd downloaded everything the trio left the area and detonated the charge.

Fire alarms went off, as well as the automatic sprinklers. “Hopefully the chaos will help us escape,” Elpizo commented.

Meanwhile, Harpuia placed a hand to his earpiece to better hear Elpizo's communication. He'd been guarding Rai, who had been overwhelmed by pantheons and was now unconscious. It looked as though they'd gotten what they needed, it was time for the distraction team to move on.

“Let's go,” he called to those around him, picking up Rai's body, “We'll meet them in the garage.”

The locked door fell inward with a little help from Stark allowing him, Shirley and Elpizo entry into the garage. Trucks were frantically being loaded by groups of pantheons, supervised by the scientists who hadn't already fled.

“And the other prototype,” snapped one of them, “Don't forget the second one!”

Several pantheons nodded stupidly and moved to the objective.

“No, no, no,” another scientist said cooly, walking around a large piece of machinery and pointing to the resistance members, “It looks like we have visitors. All pantheons, stop what you are doing and attack!”

“Professor Man… what are you doing?” one scientist exclaimed as he watched his superior punch commands into a nearby control panel. The large blue colored machine in the truck suddenly came to life, rising to its full height before jumping to the floor. Its weight cracked the concrete.

“Don't trouble yourself over it,” the head scientist told him, “The prototypes are just going to be field tested early that's all.” Suddenly there was a loud crash from behind them, the second prototype had been activated, standing up as it was carried over via forklift. The lift had fallen over as the large red machine shifted its weight and stood up.

“But Professor, they aren't-”

“I said don't trouble yourself over it,” the one called Man said as his fingers flew over the keys. “Now I suggest you evacuate yourself.”

“But what about you-”

“Well of course I'm going to stay and collect the ensuing data, I'd be a fool not to. Now as I said before, don't trouble yourself over it, the time for you to think is over. Just follow orders.”

Somewhat shocked, the first scientist stepped away and boarded the transport vehicle without a backward glance. It, and several other vehicles roared out the open garage doors to safety. The room was now largely empty, a few machines still operating, a conveyor belt or two. Some trucks and a fallen forklift but a large empty space had been created for the purpose of battle. Now he'd get to see the fruits of his research, prove to his rivals why he was and would always be Neo Arcadia's number one scientist in weapons R&D.

The pantheons were slowly being eliminated, the resistance still retained some powerful members… and the traitorous guardians were not even among them! This would make a perfect test for Project Ironclad. Man looked up to the roof, walked a few paces to his left and stopped underneath a large catwalk. His eyes met Elpizo's for a second. Grinning in anticipation, Man rose up to the metal walkway, his legs simply extended until his hands could reach and hoist himself the rest of the way. “Monitor, Merrimac,” he called, “Destroy the intruders!”

By this point most of the pantheons had been cleaned up. Shirley skewered one of the last ones and used it as a shield when the Monitor turned its arm cannon onto her. Although protected from the energy, the force of the blast knocked her through the wall.

Stark fired a missile at the Merimac, which rocked the giant robot but did no visible damage. He activated his fire chip and flew around the enemy, blasting it with a charged shot. Without wasting a moment, Stark flew at the robot's back and buried an energy blade into the spot he'd weakened with the heat beam, penetrating the armor. The Merimac could not reach Stark, but it could shake him off with a Blade Cyclone, sending Stark flying and cutting him with one of its arm blades. The Monitor turned and charged a shot but Stark, seeing this rolled out of the way. The blast ended up striking the Merimac, which sank to its knees after this last attack.

Drawing his sabers quickly, Harpuia shot forth. A quick slash against the blue monster and it turned it's attention to him. Big mistake, as Leviathan fired a significantly large block of ice at the giant machine's back. The two continued like this, taking turns attracting it's attention from one to another and giving Stark more time to recover.

Stark had recovered as much as he could in the conditions, and so activated his firechip again, allowing the heat to fill his right knuckles. Triggering the beam claws again, he lunged at the behemoth blue monster. It had just targeted Leviathan this time, as her ice dragon was the last technique to strike the giant's armored plating.

The armor of the giant was visibly scratched, gashed , slashed and dented inward all over it's front and back. The obvious homage to Leviathan and Harpuia's speed and skill. And with the icy coating still on the front from Leviathan's last attack. Harpuia's strike to the back meant it just started to turn around as Stark started forward. With the firechip empowering the beam claws, Stark shot forth and landed a powerful strike directly in the center of the chilled and damaged armor. The huge robot teetered backward as the massive impact coupled with powerful fire attack meeting powerful ice attack and resulting in a blast of energy that canceled the strength of each attack and erupted in a small explosion sent both Stark and it off balance.

Leviathan and Harpuia capitalized on the opening and jumped to roughly where Stark had launched his attack from, and each fired a shot of their most devastating attacks. Harpuia's sword beams and Leviathan's super ice dragon impacted the same spot that Stark had struck. Another massive crack was heard as the now brittle armor cracked and finally gave way. After the minutes of the resistance members striking the armor and weakening it. As a side effect the combined strike also sent the massive enemy landing on it's back, it's delicate internals now open for attack.

“Time to finish this” Harpuia announced. “I got just the thing” Stark announced, a hint of pain in his voice as he took a few steps forward, holding a few of his missiles in his hand. Raising them to indicate them to Harpuia.

Stark took another few steps and tossed the missiles into the robot's open chest. Harpuia smiled eerily as he raised his arms and sabers over his head and summoned the Electric Rain. Bolts crashed down all about and on the large robot's body, shocking it and dealing powerful damage to it. Finally a bolt struck the chest, the center… Right where Stark had flung the missiles into. And the lighting hit the missile and the entire internals of the gigantic machine exploded due to the increased power of the missiles and lightning coupling.

Professor Man was enjoying the battle. His creations were clearly strong enough, and their defense was where it needed to be. But there were apparent weaknesses that had to be corrected before mass producing them. Their weakness to ice would be corrected… and when the Ironclads were as numberous as the pantheons there would be no attacking from behind. The occasional friendly fire would not matter. Not even the traitorous guardians would be able to turn the tide. Yes, they were being defeated, but they were only prototypes after all. And they were being tested in the best setting imaginable.

Lost in his thoughts, Man failed to notice Vector enter the room. Until the floot was shot out from underneath him and he began to fall. Before he could reach out and save himself however Vector appeared to catch him. “What do we do with this one?” he called to the commander.

Man twisted in Vector's arms and kicked him in the face causing him to stagger back. “You mavericks have destroyed my research center and set back my production schedual… but after I analyze the battle data I will be back. I look forward to our next meeting.” Before anyone could move the doctor straightened up and warped out.

“We need to get going to,” Elpizo commented as more of the roof fell inward. The fires were spreading. “Operator, lock onto our positions and transfer.”

“Copy that, transfer commencing.”

And with a flash of white, the group was gone.

“What?” X asked, “What do you mean the blueprints are gone?”

“They were stolen by the resistance milord,” Professor Man stammered, “All our data had been wiped, and with the factory gone we have no way of recreating them.” “Though we did recover the bodies,” he injected helpfully at the end.

“Don't try to sound optimistic,” X snarled, “You've failed me, and you've failed all of Neo Arcadia. I've canceled my order, we shall have to make due with the pantheon line.”

“No Milord! Please, I beg of you-”

“Get out of my sight,” X ordered.

“It seems as though your information was sound,” Elpizo commented.

“I thought as much,” answered the figure on the monitor. “You can imagine of course, the repercussions if they were mass produced.”

Elpizo searched the person's face, which was covered by a cloak and hidden by shadows. It was impossible to tell if he were a human or a reploid. “I'd like to say you've earned my trust,” Elpizo continued, “But I don't like secrets. Who are you?”

“Todd Moniker.”

“You know that's not what I meant. Who do you work for? How did you get that information? How did you even get my contact information?”

Todd held up a hand, “All I'll say is that you may have friends in Neo Arcadia. Many of us are opposed to the war. But then I can't speak for the others. Until next time.”

“Wait!” Elpizo slammed his fist into the wall, the screen had gone blank. The commander sighed and left the room. He didn't like having to rely on the information of others, he'd wanted his resistance to be self sufficient.

Elpizo looked up, his feet had led him to Ciel's lab as they usually did when he was troubled. He entered the room but it was quickly apparent that no one was there but the cyber elf floating in its tank, the baby elf he had given to her after he'd escaped from Neo Arcadia. Elpizo slowly approached the tank, gazing at the elf. It had made her so happy he remembered. And since he' taken command she'd spent all her time studying it, though she'd always made time for him…

There was a second baby elf, Elpizo remembered, but he hadn't been able to get it before leaving Neo Arcadia… perhaps it was time to go get the second one as a way of repaying her for all the kindness she'd shown him. He was sure she could use it for her research…