~o0O() Chapter 2 ()O0o~

-o0 Hell 0o-

Blaze-3 stared at the wall that surrounded the base. The sheen made it look like a giant silver mirror. He was now on his fifth round, and getting very annoyed at his buddy's constant humming. He couldn't be too mad though, it was a good tune.

He saw a large creature charging at the base. Grabbing his rifle, He aimed at the creature as his buddy did the same. He fired a couple of times, but the shots seemed to bounce right off the creature.

"Get back! It's a class 3!" Shouted Blaze. He turned his rifle to live rounds and began firing again. The bullets continued to ricochet off the beast, as if it was some plasma-resistant metal monster.

It continued to charge with intent of breaking the wall. The people in the corner tower and center tower were now firing at it as well, but to no avail.

Finally, a shot came from the sniper in the center tower, hitting it dead in the eye, knocking the creature on its side. Blaze made the next few shots on its underside, and they sailed right through, killing the beast. "Hey dude, get over here, let's check this out." Said Blaze.

Meanwhile, The Star and The Magician were playing an act. The Commander approached them. "Ah, you've found her! I presume you've completed your inspection and must be on your way, so I had a group look for you to escort you out."

The Magician spoke up. "Actually, sir, I caught her snooping around the generator building. I'm going to detain her."

"Really now? That's very uncharacteristic of a High Tarot Ms. Seventeen. Very well, be one your way now."

The Magician pushed his "captive" across the grounds. "You'd better watch out for the Commander. He's a Seven."

"I'm The Star." She retorted.

"Well, some say he's a verator." He said

"Sorry, but I'm not too well versed in military terms. Define please?" She asked.

"Verator is a traitor. Specifically, someone who kills a teammate for their card. It's hard to tell who does it, because anyone coming back from a battle can promote, but it does get harder the higher up you get."

"That doesn't scare me, just to let you know."

They looped back around to the generator. The Magician opened the locked and they slid in without being noticed.

"Do you think you can blink out of here fast enough once the euridium destabilizes?" He asked.

"That depends. Do you like all your organs and appendages?"

The Magician pondered that for a moment. "Uh, yeah I believe so."

"No." She said. "At least not right now. If you give me, maybe an hour than yes."

"You're just stalling. We need to get out of here at fast as possible."

"Well my card got discharged on my way over here. I seriously have to charge it. It'll be about an hour."

"If we get killed, I blame you." The Magician said.

Outside the wall, Blaze and his buddy were trying to figure out the creature. Its armored body mutations and sharp horns gave it a demonic appearance, and its large muscular body made it hard to tear through.

"It could've been a dog."

Blaze looked at his buddy with annoyance in his eyes, and said "If it was a dog, it wouldn't have gotten this huge. This thing is larger than an ancient rhinoceros. And it smells like radiation."

His buddy took on a raspy voice and covered his mouth with his hand. "You merely adopted the radiation. I was born in it!" He said.

Blaze chuckled a little, and his buddy perked up. "I knew you could smile! You're just a tough nut to crack, that's all." Blaze quickly dismissed the comment and continued going to circle around the base. The distance from this corner to the next used to be intimidating, but he had done it enough times before to know it's not as long as it looks.

Blaze let out a sigh, and continued to search his surroundings. The field that Juliet-7 was built on was once an open field on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. Now it was nothing but a dust-covered wasteland with the occasional mountain in the distance. The radiation on this country was the strongest, it being the first to go.

The war started in North Korea. Chinese troops flooded into the country, and then south, to take Seoul. Once the rest of South Korea had been taken, their so-called "President" fired missiles into Japan without warning. Soon enough, North Korea, China, Russia, and even Germany sweeped through Europe and Africa, claiming the land for the entity now known as the Crimson Empire.

As soon as they sweeped into Africa however, The United States made a pact treaty with Canada, Mexico, and the countries of central and South America. 22 countries between the two continents, 22 signatures. Soon they called themselves the United Peoples Under One America, or the United Peoples for short.

They made it seven times round now, only a few hundred feet and they'd switch and Blaze would get to sleep. It was now afternoon at this point, but patrols take so long, the Commander was usually nice to allow the them to sleep for a few hours afterwards.

The looming clouds overhead had finally stopped their usually constant dripping, which surprised Blaze. The sun sliced through the cerulean clouds, and shone down on Juliet-7. Blaze was turning the corner, looking down the long path to the entrance. It was almost over, just about 100 more feet.

"Hey I have a question for you." He said to his buddy.

"Yeah what's up?"

"What's your callsign?"

"Mine? Storm-15… Why do you care?"

"I just need something to yell at you other than "Hey guy over there I almost killed." Blaze said. "I'm pretty sure that applies to more than a few people at this point."

"Ah." Said Storm.

There was an awkward silence for quite a while.

"So…" Storm said. "Do you have a family back home? Someone to go home to?"

Blaze did not answer that question.

"Well do you? Parents, children, or significant other?"

50 feet from the door.

"Come on Blaze. I bet you do. You should tell m-"

His voice was interrupted by chunks of rock flying through his skull, and other areas of his body. Out of instinct, Blaze set up his power, a Barrier Shield, which deflected the blast.

Storm's body lay on the floor. A lifeless corpse, just waiting for its Joker to be taken.

Blaze heard men from inside the base call out in terror and agony, "We're under attack! Take cover!"

He picked up Storm's corpse and slung it over his shoulder. He ran away from the base as fast as he could, knowing the explosive reaction was only going to get worse.

Blaze knew it would take a miracle to get them both out of the blast radius, so he gently set Storm's body down next to a rather healthy-ish tree. "I hope to see you again, friend." He said, as he took Storm's Joker card and ran as fast as he could towards what once was Lake Timikepp.

It was then he felt the earth shake beneath him.