"The name's Balt," he said to me.
I didn't like the thought of him following me, but I didn't have time to try and lose him.
"Sarth" I answered back.
"I know" he said. What's with this guy? Claiming he knows everything. "I have a Premon and a Mechanite on my ship. We're racers as well."
I didn't know what a Premon was and PC told to me through my earpiece, "Premons: A type of species that can see into the future."
Well, that explained how he knew everything and why he was here. I was weary about him at first, but now he didn't seem like such a bad guy.
"If you have someone who can predict the future, how did you fall into the trap?" I asked.
"We fell for it intentionally," he explained. "It was also predicted we'd both get the antivirus."
If he could predict that then I was headed in the right direction and I felt a heavy burden lift off my shoulders.
I thought of another question, "Do you know who'll win the race?"
He laughed, "That's the one thing we can't see."
He continued to follow me to the location of the jumper. As long as he didn't hinder me I didn't care what he did.
We came to a small city with a few Mechanites wandering around. It seemed like a normal city but even for a lower class the city it was immaculate and beautiful. If I had time I would've liked to have seen the different architectural aspects of each different building.
The only weird part was that everyone had the same straight, Mechanite face and no one veered off course of their destination, except when they saw us.
I don't know if it was the suit or the fact that we were humans (or looked human) but once they saw us they immediately changed direction in an orderly fashion, avoiding us like the plague. I continued further into the city and somewhere along the way Balt disappeared.
That was fine with me. I didn't have time to deal with any of them. I ran through the city following PC's arrow to a huge entrance of a large building. Everyone had scattered. I was about to run through when a few large mechanical droids dropped down in front of me, taking out large blasters to shoot.
Without thinking I whipped out my shredder and waved it through them as I passed by, shredding through the droids easily and they crumbled to the ground in pieces. PC was already ahead, waiting for me at one of the many different doorways.
"Welcome back Balt," PC noted behind me.
"Just went to park my shuttle. I see you got through okay." He said smiling at me. He was now wearing a full battle armament suit with a large blaster in both hands. Seeing him up close, he looked to be in his mid-thirties and built like a tough, experienced soldier, "Does this lead to the jumper?" he asked.
"Indeed. We'll be taking a smaller, more discreet jumper to the safe station. Although, once we jump to Origin it seems we will encounter resistance."
He scoffed, "Yeah, I expected that."
PC led us into a small, circular, white room.
"It'll take a moment for the jumper to activate" it said.
We stood there waiting.
"How're the others doing?" I asked PC.
"They have both made it to Origin. Here is Kiko's audio…" it played Kiko's audio and I heard metal ripping and clashing. "Here is Rei's audio…" this time I heard blasters being fired consistently, "Get out of my way!" I heard her grunt as I was guessing she was kicking something out of the way.
They were both engaged in their own battles already. We were all advancing at about the same rate.
Balt did an unsatisfied look-over at me, and then he asked, "Are you prepared to kill to save your Mech?"
I never thought of it like that, I didn't like the idea of having to kill to save, but I was going to risk my life in any way to save hers.
"I'm prepared to die to save mine," I said confidently. "Are you?"
He snorted, then chuckled, then full on laughed at my comment.
"You are interesting," he said catching his breath.
PC announced aloud, "We have arrived on Origin,"
What? Nothing even happened.
"Great, let's go lad," he beckoned to me as he headed to the door.
We ran out into a hallway with many turns. It didn't take long until we were greeted with more droids and this time it included smaller, quicker ones as well.
It was a good thing we both had energy shields. Mine was attached to S.E.E.S. and his was probably around his waist, along with other gadgets I didn't recognize. While we were safe from minor blasters, debris and explosions still affected us. Some of the droids had shields as, well but Balt's large gun didn't shoot out blasts, it resembled the gun Rei was shooting on Glutvagant and did devastating ultrasonic damage.
"Are you trying to take down the entire building?!" I shouted through the explosions he was creating while shredding an attacking droid.
"If I were trying, it would already be destroyed!" he shouted back with a grin.
I rolled my eyes. Was he not trying to save a crewmember as well? Or was he just here to have fun?
"PC! Lead me!" I ordered PC to continue guiding me.
The arrow appeared again and I started to follow it. Balt and I ran down an empty hall and turned the corner to find three Mechanites in a type of exoskeleton suit that resembled mine.
Balt tried to blast them away but somehow one of them deflected the blow and sent it right back to us. We jumped out of the way just in time but the blast still sent me flying and I bounced off a nearby wall. The massive impact stunned me and it took me a moment to remember where I was.
"Danger" came PC's voice.
I caught the movement through my helmet and narrowly dodged a fatal blow to the head. Two of the three Super Mechs had their sights set on me, and they were fast. If I hadn't been wearing the S.E.E.S. I would've been dead already. They're movements were so quick that I could only focus on dodging all of their attacks.
I went to grab for my shredder but it was missing. I quickly glanced around looking for it and S.E.E.S. highlighted it lying on the ground, blended in with rubble. My quick glance wasn't quick enough though because as soon as I started thinking about how I could get to it one of the Super Mechs picked me up and slammed me down on the ground.
"Where is Tamsin X2858 located?" the smooth male voice of the Super Mech asked me.
They wanted Tammy? I wasn't about to answer him.
He reached for his long glowing hair when another Super Mech showed up behind him and kicked him off of me. This one was different from the other two, because they had no hair at all.
"You know Tamsin X2858?" it asked me in a similar male voice.
Did this guy just change sides or what? I was too surprised to answer.
We started receiving fire and he tossed me my shredder.
"Follow me," he said.
I decided to trust him since he gave me my weapon back.
We turned the corner and he opened a room. After running inside, he sealed the door shut.
"How is Tamsin?" he asked me.
"How do you know her?" I asked instead.
"Every Mechanite knows of her," he said. "Do you not know what she is?"
I shook my head, thinking if I knew, but she's never talked or mentioned about her past.
"She's the last Livindev…" he said, trying to invoke some memory if I did know.
I shook my head again. Livindev? I've never heard of that word before.
"I am sorry, I would explain what it is to you in detail, but I don't have much time before I am rebooted. You're not too far from the archival database. I will take you as far as I can."
He opened the door again and we ran outside. Balt was passing by when he saw me.
"Get down!" he shouted to me when he saw the Super Mech leading me.
"No! Wait!" I shouted back, getting in front of the Mech that helped me. "He's trying to help!"
Balt gave me a look, but slowly lowered his weapon. PC was with him as well.
"Malachy, I didn't think I'd ever see you again," PC said to the Super Mech.
"As did I," Malachy responded. "The archival database is just through the large doors down this hallway." He said to Balt and I.
I lead the way with Balt in the rear watching Malachy's every move. He opened the large emerald doors and we all ran inside. In the middle of the room was a round, glowing pool of blue liquid with floating hologram panels surrounding it.
That must be the archival database. I ran up to it while Balt and Malachy bolted the door.
"Okay wha-do-i-do?!" I asked PC urgently.
"You'll need to transfer the data Tammy gave you on your pinky. She wrote an algorithm to automatically locate an antivirus in the database and transfer it to the data strand hair on your pinky."
Blasts were now bursting on the emerald doors.
"How do I transfer?!"
"Place your left hand on a panel, Tammy's DSH will work automatically."
I placed my hand on a panel and her hair gleamed on my pinky. Automatically, the hologram panels lit up and random symbols and text flashed instantaneously in a search pattern.
"How long is this gonna take?"
PC scanned the glowing hair and said, "Five minutes"
"Five minutes! We don't have five minutes! Is there any way to go faster?!"
"This is the neatest and quickest algorithm that is phsically capable of achieving our goal, according to my database. It is literally impossible to go any faster. The archival database has never been hacked before, let alone done in five minutes."
So Tammy was really good at what she does and I should be thankful it was only going to take five minutes, is the vibe I was getting from PC.
PC spoke again, "The others have already finished hacking into their safe station's archival database, so we know for sure that if there is an antivirus, it will be here."
It was going to appear here, I knew it. There had to be an antivirus somewhere on this planet. Why would they create such a dangerous virus without any sort of control over it?
"Hey kid, hurry it up! We're about to be overrun and I'm down to two weapons!" Balt yelled across the room.
I took out my shredder and threw it to him.
"I'll need five minutes!" I yelled back.
He squeezed the shredder's handle in his hand and it lit up. His face gleamed with joy as he admired the new weapon in his hand.
The invaders breached the emerald doors and began swarming inside. Balt and Malachy fended them off as best they could, and they were doing a pretty good job working together.
There was only about two minutes left when the two other Super Mechs reappeared. One of them had half of its suit blown away revealing the Mechanite's white skin and silvery blood. With both of them engaged, it allowed for the smaller droids to sneak past and seek me out. I was unarmed this time and I had to keep my hand on the panel.
Luckily their blasts meant nothing to me on my shield, but once they came close I was left fending myself with one hand. It wasn't too hard with the smaller droids, the bigger droids however, made me nervous when they came over. I dodged and weaved but I was at a disadvantage. I was ready to take a hit when Malachy came to my aid. He smashed and kicked away any droids near me.
"Thanks Malachy" I said to him.
"Don't thank me yet," he said as he almost fell over, but he caught himself. "I don't… have long…" He stammered.
"Why? What's wrong?" I asked, but just continued defending me. The Super Mech he was battling with earlier reappeared and they re-engaged in battle. Something was definitely wrong with Malachy because he was now easily overpowered.
Beep. It was the panel I had my hand on. It read, "Location Found" and the blue pool of liquid behind it changed colors before turning clear.
"Put your hand in the data pool," PC whizzed behind me.
I ran up to the pool and dipped my left hand inside it. A purple liquid oozed from Tammy's hair and spread throughout the pool. I saw images flash on the surface of what must have been Tammy's memories but it was flashing too fast for me to comprehend. Soon the purple color turned red and it began retracting back to the hair leaving the pool clear again. I took my hand out, it was dry and the hair remained red.
That was it. I had the antivirus. I can save Tammy.
I searched around for Balt.
"Balt! I have it!" I affirmed.
He was busy dodging the attacking Mechanite. The shredder sliced his exoskeleton in half but left the Mechanite unharmed. Somehow he was able to throw me something. It was tiny. I caught it and inspected it. It was a tiny vial with a now glowing hair inside. A tiny hologram lit up on the vial and slowly the hair's color began to change to red. It must've somehow copied the antivirus from my hand.
I searched for Malachy. He was now standing with the Super Mech he was fighting.
"Malachy let's go!" I said to him.
"Go…" he uttered, he was unable to move yet no one was touching him.
The Super Mech turned his attention to me. "He is not yours to control," he spoke to me.
"Go," Malachy uttered again.
I didn't know what was happening. I wanted to help him but I didn't have time. I started to head for the doors and I saw he was now running after me. I thought he had a change of heart and decided to come with me, but instead his arm flew at me and I skidded sideways from his punch. He advanced again towards me and I stumbled back. I saw something fly above his head to me and I caught it. It was my shredder.
I lit it up. I was hesitant to use it, but Malachy still advanced with a threatening aura.
"Please don't make me use this," I pleaded with him. The blade sparked with flowing electricity from my ring.
He stopped abruptly mid-step and strained to speak, "Destroy… me…"
Destroy him? No! I couldn't do that, and I didn't have to. The other Super Mech stabbed him with a long, glowing, purple crystal. It pierced through his chest and the lights on his suit flickered before turning off completely.
"No!" I shouted, watching his lifeless body fall to the floor in front of me.
"We've no need for faulty vessals," the Super Mech said simply, now advancing toward me.
He took out the crystal from Malachy's exoskeleton and readied to kill me with it. I heard Balt's excited battle cry as he jumped onto the Super Mech's back. I took this opportunity and swept through the Super Mech from the ground up with the full force of my electrified shredder. His suit split in three pieces and he thudded to ground next to Malachy.
"Let's go, there's nothing we can do for him," Balt said to me as I contemplated on seeing if Malachy was still alive.
Balt headed for the doors and I took one last look at Malachy before following after him.
"I've notified both Kiko and Rei that you have the antivirus. They are now on their way to support you," PC stated.
"Thanks. Do you know if Malachy will be alright?" I asked. My head was filled with wishful thinking.
"No. He's gone." My stomach churned. "Those crystals are made with similar technology to your disruptor ring with one major difference…"
I jumped over and slashed through more droids.
"What's the difference?" I asked, bringing my attention back to his comment.
PC resumed lighting the way back to the jumper and continued, "The crystals don't disrupt. They completely destroy the electrical impulses."
Any hope I had for him was instantly shattered. He was gone. Why did he even help us? He obviously knew Tammy, was that why?
"Kid, what's your deal? It's this way…" said Balt. I saw his head pop out from behind a corner.
The arrow from PC did indeed point in his direction. I caught up with him and we hid behind a pillar after noticing more droids and even more Super Mechs arrive.
"Alright," he held out his gloved hand to me, "We'll part here. I'll distract them and you get to the jumper."
I stared at his hand, and he gestured to give him something… oh yeah, I still had his vial. I took it out of a pocket on S.E.E.s. and gave it to him.
"What about you?" I asked.
"I'll be fine," he grinned again. "I know what happens remember?"
He took out the two blasters he had left.
"Thanks for your help," I said to him with gratitude.
He smiled, "Thanks for entertaining me."
Then he took off, away from the direction of the jumper. I waited as all the droids began engaging after him, before taking off to the jumper as fast as I could. A few of them noticed my flight and chased after me, but I dashed away, turning corners until I finally made it back to the jumper. PC closed the door and I waited in silence for his confirmation of a successful jump.
I stood there, catching my breath. I was getting closer to Tammy. I can do this. I can make it.
A hologram of a figure appeared on the wall.
"Human, do you really think you can escape Thereon unscathed?"
It was a Mechanite, his hair was in a long braid and he wore a thin silver ring atop his head.
"I'll take my chances," I said to him.
"You are a racer are you not?" he asked.
"Yeah, I am."
"How about we made a deal…" I waited to hear what it was. "We will give you the stone and your lives. All we ask for in return, is your Mechanite."
This was all about Tammy wasn't it? Why did they want her so much that they'd give up a piece of the galaxy's greatest power just for her? I scoffed at the easy question.
"We'll never give Tammy to you," I proclaimed.
The Mechanite peered at me with his narrowing black eyes. "You have lost your opportunity."
I glared back at him with conviction and the hologram switched off.
PC broke the silence, "We've arrived back on Populous."