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Arcanix (September 2065)

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Mirikon

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« on: (13:48:49/02-15-12) »
A bit of fan fiction I wrote while I was at work, expanding on the event that threw Iceblade into the shadows.

Lieutenant Mirikon Mollen, Arcanix Security Forces, rolled up to the main gate of the compound just outside Salem, in the heart of Tir Tairngir. He let his Scorpion idle as he presented his ident card at the checkpoint. Not that he needed to, since these men all knew his face, but it wasn’t a good idea for officers to start ignoring protocols they themselves put in. The checks complete, Lt. Mollen rode into the employee parking lot.

One minute from the lot to the front door. Three more to get through the second layer of security. Another ten to get to the locker room and get in uniform. Another minute, checking his gear. Fifteen minutes all told. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Mirikon took a moment to look at himself in the mirror. He had to admit that he looked good in his Arcanix uniform, with his sidearm in the shoulder holster, a knife in his left boot, and his katana strapped to his hip in its sheath. Yeah, he looked good, even for an elf.

He was dressed in the standard black and purple of the Arcanix security forces, though the beret he wore had the distinctive gold star that denoted him as one of the security mages. As though the sword he carried wasn’t proof enough. Sure, guns were pretty, and could do all kinds of neat tricks, but in the hands of a combat mage or an adept, a sword could be just as deadly, and more importantly, a sword didn’t run out of bullets.

Of course, even if the sword wasn’t a focus, it would still be a deadly tool in the magician’s hands. He was a swordmage, a magician who focused his power through a blade. To him, the blade was merely an extension of his own arm, a spell simply his killing intent made manifest. He did not bother with spells that affected the mind, or did any of the little things the ‘support’ mages did. No, he was a combat mage, of a tradition molded around combat.

But combat wasn’t on the agenda today, though he hoped to get some training in later, once his shift was up. He’d already done his morning workout, but the more training you did, the easier the movements flowed from attack to defense, from parry to strike. But that was later. Now, though, he had a company meeting to get to. New bosses wanted to say hello, or some such drek.

New bosses. Yeah, that was rich. It was an open secret around the water cooler that Arcanix was in big trouble after the Crash. Wuxing had cut them loose, and over the last week, the rumors had been flying about a takeover, something about a Renraku subsidiary. It had come down the pipe yesterday that the company had finally been sold, and the new bosses wanted to make an address to the entire company, in the courtyard at 08:30. That was only about ten minutes away.

Mirikon sighed. The rumor mill had been running rampant that they were going to be downsizing entire departments in the changeover. They said over a hundred of the thousand workers and scientists had been told not to come in today. Mirikon wasn’t worried, though. If there was one safe bet in corp life, it was that as long as the corp had things worth keeping secret, there would be a need for corp security. And at a place like Arcanix, where they worked on magic R&D, an awakened security officer could count on job security, if nothing else.

Well, might as well go and see what the suits wanted. He headed out with the other employees to the central courtyard, one of the few places in the compound where you could have a gathering this large. The security officer in him immediately noticed the cargo containers set up in the middle of the courtyard, marked with the Aztechnology seal. It seemed he wasn’t the only one concerned with this development. An AR window popped up in front of him (He resisted the urge to jump in surprise. The new wireless protocols took some getting used to.), with Captain Reynolds, the shift commander, looking back at him.

“Squad leaders! Defensive position Alpha Four! Lt. Mollen, go astral and tell me what is in those containers.”

Of course. A mage could look into the containers without much difficulty. Wouldn’t be much use in seeing tech, but he could see if there was anything alive in there. He quickly acknowledged the order, and motioned for one of his subordinates to cover his body while he was out.

Only a mage could separate mind from body, and project himself into the astral plane. As Mirikon’s consciousness left his body, he looked around at the shadow world of the astral, comforted by the frigid blue shape his katana made here. A weapon focus was truly a mage’s best friend. With the speed of thought, he moved across the courtyard, moving through the immaterial walls of the container, to look inside.

He immediately regretted that decision. All around him were ghouls. The drekking containers were packed with GHOULS! Narrowly he parried several strikes as the ghouls attempted to bring him down, before he could escape back to his body. The dual natured creatures were not keen on letting him escape, but with a gasp, he was back in his own skin, none the worse for wear.

Keying his comm to the security frequency, he called out, “Code Black! Code Black! All units, the containers are filled with ghouls!”

Even as Captain Reynolds began barking orders to the security forces, the entire courtyard got very quiet, as a massive AR window opened above them, with a generic corporate weasel (Mirikon thought he looked like one of those Aztlan natives.) smiling down at them with that fake smile that always meant someone was about to get screwed. The man looked shiftier than any elf Mirikon had ever seen before.

“Ah, glad to see you all so punctual. I am Mr. Hernandez, Vice President of Human Resources. I am pleased to inform you all that Arcanix has recently been purchased by Aztechnology. The conditions of this sale include a vigorous plan to return Arcanix to profitable roots, and for shedding assets that are a net drain on company resources. It is in that light that I must regretfully inform you that you are all to be terminated immediately. Please stay calm, and wait for our employee relations staff to get to you to finalize your termination.”

The window shut, leaving everyone in a state of shock for about half a second. Then the whole world fell apart. Mirikon’s comm lit up, with warnings that the compound had gone into lockdown mode, and the defense systems had detected multiple hostile targets within the compound. All the gates sealed themselves, the sirens went off, and all around concealed turrets popped out, and the sound of machine gun fire was joined by the screams of people dying as the guns tore into the crowd. And then the doors of the containers opened, and starving ghouls started spilling out, rushing the scientists who had tried to take shelter from the turrets by hiding near the containers. They joined the screams of the dying.

“Fall back! Fall back! All security forces pull back to the science building! Bring whatever civvies you can!” The sound of Captain Reynolds giving orders shook Mirikon out of his shock at the turn of events. His squad was closest to the doors, so he led the way, sword in hand. First order of business, get the doors open, so they could get the civilians out of the killing field. As the rest of his squad covered them, Mirikon quickly cast a spell, speeding his reflexes and giving him better reaction time. Even as he fought off the draining effects of the spell, he used a focus to sustain it for him. He would need to be at his absolute best if they were going to get out of here. At the same time, Private Jackson, a spider attached to his squad, quickly hacked the doors, getting around the lockout, at least temporarily. But the fact that he had to hack it at all was a bad sign. That meant that the access codes were all changing. They were serious about not wanting survivors.

Once inside the science building, Mirikon’s team took up cover positions, to hold the entrance. Mirikon stood just inside the doors, watching from around the doorframe as the turrets mowed down the unarmed scientists. Fortunately, Captain Reynolds and about twenty officers were headed that way, laying down fire as at least forty civilians ran for the safety of the building. Fortunately, the ghouls were busy hunting the other, less fortunate souls who had been cut off from the building, and feasting on the fallen. Mirikon noticed that the turrets conspicuously avoided hitting the ghouls. They just weren’t having any kind of luck, it seemed.

The civvies piled into the lobby area, and though it was starting to get crowded, no one wanted to move into the main area of the building until the defenses were down. Not unless they had no other choice. Captain Reynolds got through the door with the last of his men just in time. Channeling his magic, Mirikon threw up a wall of ice behind Reynolds, blocking the door for a moment, but only a moment. With a terrifying blow, one of the ghouls broke the wall, sending shattered ice everywhere. But it had done its job. The door was secure behind them. The Captain nodded to Mirikon in thanks, before turning to the business at hand.

“Mollen, give me a sitrep!”

“Captain, I got Jackson trying to hack into the system and turn off the defenses. But the new bosses are changing access codes as quick as we can get them. They’ve got a few spiders of their own in there. He could use a hand, if you brought any more spiders with you. I’ll go astral, scout the rest of the building. For now, it looks like we’re trapped here, unless we can get the external defenses offline. And right now I’m all that passes for a medic around here.”

“Sanchez, Blackmayne! Dive in, and support Jackson! We aren’t getting anywhere if he gets fried before he can shut down the turrets! Blye, go with Mollen and scout the astral. Avoid the ghouls. I don’t want you wizzies going off and getting yourselves killed alright? The rest of you, interview the civvies, I want names and specializations. See if there’s anyone there with skills that can help us, or lab projects going that can get us out of here.”

It was a testament to their training, really. Reynolds barked his orders, and everyone immediately leapt into action, moving with the speed and precision one would expect out of professionals. Sure the world had just fallen apart around them. But they weren’t going to sit around and throw a fit like orks! They were elves, and they would act like it. Mirikon was smiling as he slipped into the astral.

Blye was there, waiting for him, a spirit of Air at his side. Mirikon nodded to the fellow mage. They followed different traditions, but he’d worked with Blye before, and he was a solid caster, and a class A summoner. There was no one he’d rather have with him in a journey through the Astral. Without a word, they began a circuit of the ground floor of the building, drifting through walls and keeping an eye open for any breaches.

Together, the three astral forms began moving around the building at the speed of thought, taking note of all the living creatures around. There in the lobby were the survivors of the massacre outside. There was nothing else moving on the ground floor, but in some of the labs upstairs there were test animals, and in one lab there was a swarm of astral bacteria, contained by a barrier. Mirikon knew that lab. It was the one where they were experimenting on samples of the FAB strain used in Chicago. If they could get to that, anything on the astral would be toast. Of course, the mages would be just as vulnerable as the dual-natured ghouls. Still, that was an option, for a last ditch effort.

Seeing that, for the moment, the building was secure, the three astral forms projected themselves outside the building. What they saw was, in a word, horrific. At least a couple hundred ghouls wandered about the compound, hunting down the few remaining survivors, and feasting on their flesh. A quick check of the other buildings showed that there was only a single other island of resistance. A security team on the other side of the compound had tried to fight their way to the wall. They’d been pinned down by some of the automated defenses, and a group of ghouls were about to overwhelm them.

Calling on their powers, Mirikon, Blye, and the spirit unleashed a trio of destructive spells. Three terrible bursts of killing power exploded amongst the ghouls, killing some of them, and leaving the others gravely wounded. The security team managed to cut the rest down, before one of the security drones swept in, and destroyed them with a grenade launcher. The only life left in the compound were the ghouls, which went back to their feast. There was nothing for them to do but return to their bodies.

Reynolds was not pleased with their report. The news from the digital front was only slightly better. The trio of spiders had managed to get into the system through private back-doors, but were being blocked by enemy spiders. Sanchez managed to take down the defenses inside the building, but only by data-bombing the control software, and erasing it completely. Jackson and Blackmayne managed to fry the transmitters connecting Arcanix to the outside world, but an enemy spider blasted Blackmayne into a burnt out corpse before they could do it. They were still locked out of the defense systems outside this building, but they at least didn’t have to worry about enemy spiders any more.

The good news is that quick thinking and action meant that there were ten armed security officers still alive, along with thirty civilians. The bad news was that the ghouls were not going to stay outside for long. They were already banging on the door, eager to get in. They had to figure out a way to get out of here.

Reynolds ordered everyone to move out, and sealed the door behind them. They couldn’t keep the ghouls out forever, but they would at least be able to slow them down. Maybe that would be enough. Mirikon and his squad took point, moving quickly through the halls to the backup armory built into a secret room on this floor. They distributed weapons and ammo to the civvies, and stocked up on their own supplies. Druven, the demolitions expert, picked up a satchel of explosives and some detonators.

They heard the outer doors break under the attacks of the rabid ghouls. Idly, Mirikon considered whether the scum who had shipped these ghouls in had given them some kind of long duration version of K10, or whether they had been conditioned in some other way to be this rabid. Under normal circumstances, a ghoul would rip your face off if you let it, but they weren’t completely unthinking, not like the crazed creatures they were facing now. And then his blood ran chill. What if they had been experimenting on the HMHVV virus itself, trying to make ‘better’ ghouls? THAT was a thought that he didn’t care to think of.

Quickly, they began heading up the stairs, running hard. If they could get to the roof, there would be an emergency stair heading down. More importantly, on the fifth floor they could hole up in a security office for a moment, and the hackers could try again to shut down the security drones outside. With outside communications fried, the drones’ programming should default them to receiving orders from one of the security offices. Which meant that they may just live through this yet.

Mirikon and Reynolds leapfrogged eachother, each squad playing rearguard at one stairwell, before falling back as the other covered them, making their way towards the security office. The ghouls kept coming. In one exchange, Mirikon saw that they had on body armor, and were carrying assault rifles! Not only had the Azzies dumped rabid ghouls into this compound, but they had ARMED the sane ones!

At the fifth floor, Mirikon’s squad held the landing, using grenades to keep the ghouls from rushing them in force. The spiders jacked in and began working furiously to try and break the lockouts on the security system. Unfortunately, they soon found that ghouls hadn’t been the only things in the containers. A transmitter drone had set itself up outside, allowing the Azzies to get around the disabled transmitters. Sanchez and Jackson tried the data-bomb trick again, but the Azzie spiders were waiting. They killed the security system, but both the hackers were brain dead from the backlash of that cyberbattle.

As Mirikon threw his last grenade, Reynolds ordered the group to fall back to the roof. From the roof, they began descending rapidly down the emergency stairwell, using automatic weapons fire to clear ghouls from their path, and a claymore on the roof access and the top of the stairs, cutting off pursuit from behind. Five minutes later, they were once more on the ground, and began hustling towards the perimeter wall. Mirikon noticed that they had lost some of the civilians as the ghouls rushed them at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe half?

The fight across the courtyard was brutal. In the end, only eight security officers and five civilians were left, the rest brought down by the ghouls. The lucky ones had died where they fell, instead of being simply wounded, and left for the ghouls to feast on. If he lived through this, Mirikon knew those screams would haunt him the rest of his life.

At the wall, they were hard pressed, covering Druyen as he set the charges, and then hustled to get out of the blast radius. The blast broke a hole in the wall just large enough for a man to get through, despite using a whole satchel on that one spot. Again, they fought their way to the breach, but all the ghouls were swarming them now, and they were losing men. Only Mirikon and two civilians managed to get through the hole. Mirikon turned back to see Reynolds fall, releasing his last grenade in a defiant gesture, and put an ice wall up after the blast to cover their escape.

They each went to their personal vehicles, and bugged out, in a hurry, heading for the hospital. They were treated for their wounds (the two civilians especially, as they’d been bitten), and put in rooms for observation overnight. They were each prescribed a sedative to help them sleep better. Mirikon ‘forgot’ to take his, on the hunch that, just perhaps, the Azzies wouldn’t look kindly on witnesses surviving the massacre.

His suspicions were confirmed when he caught a man sneaking into his room when he should have been in a drug-induced sleep. He killed the man with a scalpel he’d hidden under his pillow, without giving him a chance to explain himself. This was fortunate, as the syringe he was carrying was full of a deadly poison that would not show on the traditional autopsies, air. It was an old assassination trick, injecting air into the IV tube, to carry it in the blood and cause an embolism. Mirikon didn’t even wait for the doctors to come. Changing into his clothes, he escaped with his possessions. He didn’t go home, where the Azzies would have people waiting for him. He went to the only place he could, the army base just outside Salem.

At the gate, he provided a different identity card from the one he used at Arcanix. The private saluted as he handed the card back, saying, “Welcome, Captain. I had word from command to look for you. Building 3, Room 432.” Mirikon nodded at the private, and drove off, to deliver his report. His assignment had always been to keep an eye on Arcanix, and warn the TTPF if anything dangerous was going on. Mirikon sighed. That assignment, at least, was over.
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Deepeyes

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« Reply #1 on: (16:48:39/02-15-12) »
A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! Very nice!! Paced just right... Hope there's more coming!! :D

rasmusnicolaj

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« Reply #2 on: (07:05:05/02-16-12) »
Excellent action. I'm maybe a little unsure to why they would wan't to kill all instead of eploiting them or just letting them go. But then again it's Aztec.

Rasmus
Deplore killings made in the name of religion. Can't it just be for fun?

Mirikon

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« Reply #3 on: (07:22:17/02-16-12) »
Even today it is common for larger companies to snap up a troubled company with things they might like, and lay off a significant portion of the work force to 'reduce overhead'. The people who were told to stay home were the ones who still had a job, and were getting transfers to other facilities (out of the country). As for the rest, if you had just purchased a corp, would you let all those people go with knowledge of all the proprietary info you just acquired?
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rasmusnicolaj

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« Reply #4 on: (08:16:59/02-16-12) »
That depend on how huge I would be on PR. Killing so many people will leave a trace but if you don't care it is a fine option.

Rasmus
Deplore killings made in the name of religion. Can't it just be for fun?

Mirikon

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« Reply #5 on: (12:54:44/02-16-12) »
The plan was to wipe everyone out, and blame the disaster on lax safety protocols the last group put in place with their illegal research on the Infected. When there are no witnesses, and you can arrange the evidence however you like...

Which is why, of course, the three people who actually made it out were targeted in their hospital rooms. Dead men tell no tales.
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