Chapter 62: Tanked

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62 of Pokemon Rangers 2: Eddies: A pokemon story. Many things about the entire situation remain confusing, even to this day.

As an example, after the initial fallout following their arrival had subsided, where did the creatures go? Given only speculation remains as to their eventual fate, was the government involved, or had they simply vanished as mysteriously as they arrived? Or are they living amongst us still, hidden from the prying eyes of the general populace by those sworn to protect them? Perhaps we'll never know, just as it's as unlikely we'll ever be told the real truth as to their mysterious presence in our world. The government has covered it up, the people involved remain mute, and the creatures themselves; these Pokémon; are the biggest enigma of the lot. At least their presence here has answered one important question that's plagued humanity since the dawn of its creation. We are not alone. Perhaps we never have been.


It's been so long might be a good idea to go back and reread it to here, or it's gonna get confusing ;)

Eddies 62

Stepping cautiously across the gore covered floor of the portal room, Bill waved over another officer, giving him the gruesome task of dragging first Jasper's remains, then those of the nearest enemy soldiers, away from the room centre over to where Suicune was flash-freezing them solid. Of Sparky, nothing remained.

Feeling a soft head press against his thigh, he made to drop his hands to caress Shadow but froze, aware of the disturbing state of his hands. Absently, he wiped them down his uniform shirt, leaving a trail of blood that would likely never come out, but he didn't give it much thought, stroking idle fingers through the luxray's mane comfortingly.

Rodney joined him in his pondering, shotgun slung across his shoulders and his shirt sleeves rolled back. The aboriginal man didn't seem especially fazed at the state of the room around him, his experience as a hunter giving him partial immunity to the reek of offal around them. Some of Bill's fellow officers hadn't been so lucky and, while hardened to the everyday realities of life in the police force, weren't able to cope with all the death that had so violently confronting them. In several areas, the stench of vomit had enhanced the other less savoury smells, and Bill had to consciously choke down his gag reflex a few times, so as not to join them.

Clapping him on the shoulder, Rodney said somewhat sympathetically "Not a good thing, this, brother. You two coping?"

Giving the human a grateful look at his unconscious inclusion, Shadow nodded, peering up at Bill, who simply shrugged noncommittally.

"Not much we can do about it, is there?" Bill replied dryly, receiving a flash of white teeth in reply as Rodney gave him a sudden grin.

"Not really, unless you got a lot of super glue to go sticking all this shit back together."

Snorting, Shadow sniggered briefly, before giving the far end of the room a concerned look. Following her glance, Rodney gestured towards the portal, before which Entei had taken up station, watching the now sparking surface glumly.

"Don't look real happy, does he?" Rodney muttered, joining the pair as Bill strode across the room, mindful of the soiled state of the floor, to fall in position beside the legendary.

The portal had changed appearance since last time he'd seen it. The silver rippling mirrored surface was now shot through with streaks of lightening, and the portal frame itself spat sparks from the more obvious damaged areas, which burnt pockmarked holes in the concrete floor beneath. One nearly struck Shadow, who leapt back nimbly to avoid a burn, but didn't make a sound as Bill finally let out a sigh, and turned to the big pokemon.

"So, how bad is it?" he asked, receiving an obviously droll look from the bewiskered face.

"Well, in my opinion, it isn't good" Entei muttered, eyes flashing back to the unstable surface.

Concerned, Bill asked "Will it blow up, do you think?"

Shrugging huge furred shoulders, Entei replied "I don't know, human. It's probable, even likely. If I had to rate our chances, I'd say we're somewhere between "in the shit" and "completely fucked." Of course, Raikou would likely have a much better, albeit long winded descriptive which would provide an even more insightful opinion on our chances, but in general terms, I think I've pretty much nailed it."

"How long we got?" Rodney injected, giving the portal a distrustful look.

Shrugging again, Entei muttered. "Difficult to say. Could be days, or weeks. Could only be hours. Not too soon, I think. But I wouldn't like to be here when it goes."

"Can you do anything about it? Stabilise it?" asked Shadow, receiving a warm look from Entei.

"I do not think so."

"What about turning it off?" pondered Bill.

Shaking his head, Entei replied "I don't think I can; not in such a way as to allow us to turn it back on later. I think, once it's off, it will be, in the words of the immortal comedians of your world, "an ex parrot!" and I, for one, would rather not be stuck here permanently."

"Pining for the fjords then" Bill muttered unconsciously, as Rodney barked a laugh, startling a nearby group of police officers who couldn't imagine what could be so amusing given the situation.

Sighing again, Bill rubbed his face with one hand, unconsciously streaking red across his cheek, and said "We can't stay here. We need to find the others and get back on the mission."

Giving the legendary a searching look, Bill asked him "Do you think you could look after things here by yourself, if the rest of us head out?"

Grinning, Entei's long, sharp teeth glimmered in the light of the portal, giving him a demonic look. "Do I think I can handle things here alone? I believe I can cope."

Suicune, his grim task finished, had approached to stand behind Rodney's shoulder. At his brother's words he piped up "I can always stay here with you, if you feel my presence is needed, Entei."

Snorting, Entei turned and stepped towards a less contaminated patch of ground in a corner of the room. However, his voice carried back to the group "Oh, yes, princess. Given the choice of staying in an empty room by myself surrounded by stinking dead humans, or sharing your company, I think I'd rather the corpses, thank you very much!"

Affronted, Suicune made to retort angrily, but hesitated as Rodney let out a cackling laugh, slapping the pokemon on the shoulder and leading him towards the portal room's doorway.

As the group headed out, one officer gave Entei's hulking form an uncertain look, and muttered to Bill. "Are you sure he'll be OK?"

Unaware of how good Entei's hearing was, he then jumped as a surge of flame engulfed the roof near the pokemon, who had raised his head from his paws and answered wryly "I think I can handle it better than you, human. Want to wager?"

The officer shuddered, and needed no further encouragement to join his comrades.

________________________

With the building plans spread out on the office desk before them, Bill traced their position with an idle finger, considering their options. They'd crammed into the small room with difficulty, thankfully not compounded by Suicune's bulk, as the legendary chose to remain outside.

"Do we even know exactly where the others have gone, Bill?" one of the policemen asked, as Bill chewed a fingernail as he concentrated on the choices.

"I had assumed they'd come back this way, but they obviously haven't. Radio's still down, and without breaking their RF interference, we have no chance of getting word to them, or to those outside."

"I heard voices from upstairs, when I reconnoitred the way ahead" injected another, before shrugging. "Don't know if it was ours or theirs I could hear."

"Probably theirs, knowing our luck!" Bill swore, not happy with the choices confronting him. Finally, he dropped his eyes to Shadow, who hand been following the conversation with worried eyes, and said in pokespeak "Kitten, I know this is asking a lot of you, but do you think you could go and have a look upstairs for us, to see who is up there? If we go in there blind, we're as likely to get shot as not."

Nodding, she slipped forward and pressed against him, mindless of the confused stares from the other humans. Bill dropped to a knee, gave her a hard hug, face pressed into her mane as he breathed in her musky scent, and whispered "And don't get shot, alright, sweetheart?"

Snorting, she pulled back and swiped her tongue up his cheek affectionately, much to Rodney's amusement, and turned to slip from the room, ignoring the looks they gave her.

Rodney clapped Bill on the shoulder and said "She'll be alright, mate. She's a smart one, that one!"

"Hopefully smart enough not to get shot!" Bill rebutted, but turned back to the map, trying to ignore the pit of fear that had formed in his stomach.

__________________________

The hallway was unlit, and only her keen eyesight allowed her to slip through without hesitation, pupils widely dilated as they drew in what little that could be made from the surrounding area.

Finding the foot of the long staircase leading to the foyer wasn't difficult, but she paused before ascending nonetheless, the muted voices of a large number of humans drifting down to her sensitive ears.

Not their people, she pondered. Certainly not.

Way too many.

Debating whether to proceed, the comforting concealment from the ambient darkness finally gave her courage to begin her cautious climb, hugging the closest wall for additional cover as she drew around first one corner, then a second, to reach a mezzanine landing.

The voices were clearer now, and they obviously weren't friendly.

Drawing a breath, she dropped to her chest, flattened on the stairs as they brushed through her fur as she reached the top, cautious of the torch lights and dim lamps that illuminating small spots of the room which might give her away. Poking her head the final few inches, as her eyes drew level with the foyer flooring she had her first good look at what they were up against.

10...15...20... no, at least 30 humans, all in paramilitary gear, were everywhere. Some were erecting concrete and sand bag barriers across the room, while others dragged out coils of razor wire to stretch between the large areas pillars, blocking any direct approach.

Counting their placements so as to report accurately back to Bill, a sudden loud grating noise had her froze, as the area was bathed in sudden brilliant daylight. The steel security grills, keeping the building isolated, were slowly being raised.

Stunned, she almost sprang back as a sudden flurry of humans in military garb entered the foyer. Expecting a fight, she gaped instead as the leading human, flanked by several of his men, reached the Sinnotech militia, extending a hand that was warmly grasped and shook by the Sinnotech captain.

It was her involuntary gasp that gave her away, an exclamation loud in the echoing chamber as General Jobes, firmly clutching the "enemies" hand, exchanged pleasantries in the bright light from outside.

A shout went out as she was spotted; the searchlights in the room directed towards her blinding her momentarily as she frantically tried regaining her bearings. It was this hesitancy that was almost her undoing.

Shots rang out, some wildly off the mark, but several much, much closer, chipping concrete from the wall beside her as she spun to descend. But she wasn't fast enough, staggering as one clipped her ear, sending shearing pain down her face as she stumbled head first to fall past the first landing. The voices from above drew closer, and panicked she frantically blinked blood from her eyes while attempting to rise, only to be knocked flat by a huge body which lunged over her to unleash a frigid blast upwards, engulfing the upper stairwell from floor to ceiling in a solid wall of ice.

Once satisfied he'd bought them some time, Suicune paused, dropping his head low to check her health. When she nodded she was OK, he again resumed his ice beam, until a three foot thick wall of ice stood between them and the enemy. While the muted thud of bullets striking the barrier could still be heard, nothing penetrated. But she mewed in surprise as Suicune dropped his head, grabbing the scruff of her mane roughly between his teeth, and lifting the luxray to dangle helplessly from his grasp as he raced back downwards towards safety.

Dumping his burden unceremoniously at Bills feet, Shadow raised her eyes to meet her trainer, as the officer dropped over her, grabbing her head roughly as he checked her for other injuries, before glaring at her and cursing "I thought I told you to be careful?"

Suddenly exhausted, she dropped her eyes, letting out a mournful yowl, until she was roughly embraced by her partner, who almost sobbed out his relief she was safe. "Oh Kitten..." he started, before she reached up and grabbed him back, the pair oblivious to the others in the group before an embarrassed cough had them look up.

Rodney smirked and said "It's only a chuck of ear. Think positive! She's now got a matching set. But we might have other concerns..."

Turning to point towards Suicune, the luxray wasn't surprised to see him glowering down the hallway towards the stairwell, chill mist enveloping his form as his fury literally froze the air around him. When Bill approached, he let out a deep snarl, eyes wild as he hissed "Jobes was there!"

Startled, Bill gave Shadow a confused look, as the luxray staggered to her feet to then drop to her haunches, mindful of the aching ear as she cautiously explored the seeping wound with a paw. When Bill grabbed her arm away, replacing it with a wad of bandage as he wrapped the dressing around her head, she sighed and nodded in the affirmative.

"Yes, it was the human Jobes. They opened up the big metal doors to the outside, and let him in. He put his hand in the other humans, and shook them together, acting like friends."

Lips tight, Bill finished his makeshift first aid and stood to lean against the wall, aware all eyes in the room were anxiously on him as he sighed again. "Bastard. Seems he had no intention on taking those pricks on. Instead, making a bed for them all to sleep in together. Fucking cunt...."

Pausing, mindful of his colleagues around him, he stood abruptly and said "It doesn't matter. We need to get this information to Cameron and Scott, as well as H.Q, as a priority. Ideas?"

"We could try and find the source of the RF interference...?" one began, before another cut him off.

"Pointless exercise. The jammer could be anywhere and without the right gear, it'd be a needle in a haystack!"

"What about the telephone?" piped in Suicune, head over the shoulder of an unsuspecting human, who jerked at the voice in his ear.

One of the other policemen, wary of the big, angry pokemon, replied uncertainly "We tried that. There is no reception as the lines are cut, and..."

Snorting, the legendary glared at the speaker, sending him silent.

"I know that, human! I have ears, you know. I mean the other telephone!"

Confused, the group exchanged glances until, with an exasperated noise, Suicune pointed towards the wall across from them, in which an emergency services distribution box was located. Through the glass door could be seen a red receiver, cradled into the panel.

Somewhat dubiously, Bill stepped to the box, breaking the glass seal to retrieve the key, and opened the door. Lifting the handset to his ear, he was stunned as, with a click, a dial tone commenced, abruptly followed by a female voice asking "Police, fire or ambulance."

Asking the phone attendant to wait, Bill gave the hovering Suicune a broad grin, and said "You just earned your stripes, mate!"

Suicune beamed at the praise.

_____________________

It wasn't easy convincing those on the receiving end of the call that he was serious, but with much pleading, cajoling and the occasional threat, Bill was finally put through to the police 2IC in charge of the operation, Terry Smith, someone Bill knew well from his academy days.

The news wasn't good.

Hand covering the receiver to mask his actions from the two army officers stationed nearby, Terry turned his back on the troops and spoke hurriedly to his colleague. "We're pretty much fucked out here, Bill. With Cameron out of communication, and the Army breathing down our necks, it's all we can do to keep the civilian population and media out of the area. Shit, we already had one news crew defying their orders and slipping closer. From that we have a cameraman with gunshot wounds to his thigh, and a reporter in army custody. They have the place locked down tighter than Tony Abbott's budgie smugglers!"

Amusement at the image of the Prime Ministers swimming gear notwithstanding, Bill swore. "How many are out there, Terry?"

Sighing, the officer whispered back "A good few dozen, easily. It's the hardware they're packing that has me concerned. They brought a fucking tank with them, Bill, and you won't like where it's pointed. That Jobes fella is almost frothing at the bit to enter that building and, rumour is, he isn't after the enemy we'd hoped for."

Nodding, Bill groaned. "Shit. No surprise there when we earlier saw the prick shaking hands with the militants in here. Can you stall them, do you think?"

Terry made to reply, but the guards sudden interest in his activity had him hurry. "Fuck... They've seen me. Bill, be careful. They're likely setting up a trap for you. I have to...."

The sounds of a scuffle followed, along with a cry of pain, until an unknown voice came on the line.

"Who is this? This is an authorised military area. Identify yourself immed...."

Bill hung up, knowing it was pointless continuing.

As he faced his men, their worried look forced him to grin, for their sakes if not his.

"No surprises, guys. The 'them against us' just went from a three way exercise to just two..."

Snarling softly, Suicune muttered "That just makes it that much easier to work out who to take down then, doesn't it!"

Nodding, Bill shrugged. "Yep. If it isn't one of ours, it's one of theirs."

"But, a tank?" one stuttered, faces white in the hallway light. "How the hell do we take on a tank?"

Head dropping to face the officer, who blanched further at the attention from the pokemon, Suicune drew back his lips and exposed his fangs. "Just one tank? How inconsiderate of them. I was hoping for a challenge!"

Rolling his eyes, Bill interrupted the exchange. "I'd rather we didn't bring Armageddon to the building, Suicune. Remember the portal! If we can hold them upstairs, we might...."

But what they might have done wasn't aired, as with a sharp detonation, the ice barricade exploded above and beyond them.

Smoke enveloped the area, adding to the chaos as tear gas grenades exploded, sending the group scurrying further down the corridor. Sheltering in a large utility room, they regrouped as the lights overhead flickered and dimmed, before going out completely. Emergency lighting kicked in, intermittently spaced, and with the haze around them, gave a Dante's inferno cast to the area.

More gas grenades followed, along with less pacifistic devices. When one grenade took out a wall a few dozen feet down the corridor, setting off the fire sprinklers to drench everything around them, Bill screamed at the group to retreat further.

Shadow paused; a sudden idea sprung from the chaos, and shouted to her partner "I can handle this! Thunderbolt!!"

Unsure what she was saying, and feeling their time was short, Bill shook his head, only pausing when Suicune came into view through the smog, nodding wildly.

"Yes! I understand. It is possible!"

Confused, Bill took a brief moment to think through the idea, until it dawned on him. Yes, it might work, but the risks...

"I will protect her!" Suicune interjected fiercely, face close as Bill shut his eyes, trying to overcome his fears.

"OK, I trust you both on this. But again, for Christ's sake, be careful!"

It was all the approval Shadow needed. With a snarl, she darted towards the enemy, nose tightly closed against the dense, tearing mist. Reaching the stairs, she spotted the first of the militants, who had no chance to respond to her sudden appearance. Back arched and tail high, she sent a staggered blast of electricity not towards him directly, but downwards to the water pooling at their feet.

The effect was intense and immediate. The men closest to the blast screamed, arching in agony as their waterlogged clothing conducted the electricity through to their flesh, sending them spasming to the ground in pain. Shadow didn't pause, springing past to tackle another group, then a third, until she made it to the foyer proper.

She hit her first hurdle there, the soldiers forewarned of her attach, sending returning fire to splinter the reinforced concrete around her. Throwing herself behind the nearest barrier, she curled thunderbolts towards those still standing in water, dropping more of them until those who remained dry and unaffected regrouped out of harms way.

Luckily, the sudden nature of her attack left them momentarily at a loss, and no one hurtled a grenade at her. Still, pinned down in an exposed area wasn't the best position to find herself in, and she snarled again helplessly, praying that backup wouldn't be too far behind.

She didn't have to wait very long. Backup came in a huge blur of blue and white fury.

His first leap clearing the bodies piled beneath, Suicune spun to throw himself at the nearest of the humans, a thrust paw sending several screaming through the sun drenched haze to strike the glass panels at the building entrance, shattering them into pieces as they landed in the street outside.

A leap over razor wire had him careening towards the wall where, with a mid air pivot, he struck the wall on all fours, claws digging deep into the plaster as he tore around the foyer perimeter ten feet above the ground. With gravity finally overcoming his centripetal force, he dropped hard and landed behind another group who had watched his acrobatic leap in gape mouthed shock, compounded when he sprung into their midst, claws and teeth slashing to dismember his enemy.

Shadow, momentarily forgotten in the ferocity of the legendary's awesome attack, took full advantage of their lack of attention, throwing herself forward and disabling another pair with Discharge.

The pair of pokemon regrouped behind another concrete barrier, Suicune sliding across the wet concrete on his side, sending up a spray of water that he caught up in a turbulent whirlwind with Tailwind, aided by a jet of water from Hydro pump. Once the air was saturated, he enveloped the room in Mist, again springing from the protection to attack the enemies.

Near the entrance, Jobes began screaming orders to the remaining troops to attack, but met with such overwhelming force, most had already retreated outside, staggering into the sunshine to sprint towards their lines. The weapons fire within soon began to die out; only the occasional burst echoing through the room until ghastly silence enveloped the shrouded interior.

Hesitating at the entrance, Jobes reached down for his handgun but paused as a guttural snarl from within made him freeze.

"I'm going to kill you, Jobes. I'm going to rip you into tiny little pieces and then I'm going to eat you!" Suicune's growl echoed from the darkness, followed by a roar that sent shards of ice hurtling towards him.

Jobes didn't hesitate, throwing himself from the building as the remaining facade at the foyer front shattered, showering him in glass as he plunged down the steps leading to the building entrance.

Inside, Bill shuddered at Suicune's blatant threat, as the police gained the stairs to join Shadow near the security desk. It took a moment to find the controls, but the steel security grills slowly squealed closed, again plunging the foyer interior into semi-darkness.

In the ensuing silence, Suicune emerged to rejoin them, the look on his face frightening. Bill glanced away, running his fingers through Shadow's pelt looking for injuries until the luxray shrugged off his ministrations to ask "They will be back, won't they?"

"Sure as Christmas, Kitten." Bill muttered, glancing towards the far end of the room, still invisible in the darkness.

Rodney stepped to Suicune's side, placing a hand on the tense neck until, with a sigh the furious pokemon relaxed, lowering his head until his chin brushed the ground, eyes closed in exhaustion.

"Gonna eat the prick, huh?" Rodney asked him wryly, as Suicune lifted his eyes to meet the man's gaze meekly.

"Just a bit of him, maybe." The legendary muttered. "Perhaps his arms. I think his head would be a little bit toxic. Sure made him run fast, didn't it?"

Chuckling, Rodney turned back to Bill and said "I think we'd better get going from here, my friend. Something tells me the shit's gonna start flying even more soon!"

Rolling her eyes, Shadow stood, rocking slightly on unsteady feet as exhaustion began setting in. Still, she didn't hesitate making for the stairs, followed by the rest of the group as they retreated towards the safety of the building basement.

Outside, Jobes stood with his lieutenants, grinding his teeth and physically shaking in fury. That those animals had had the gall to attack him not once, but three times, sent him over the edge.

When one of his men, nervous at the increasingly unstable demeanour of his superior, questioned if he was alright, he hit the floor hard as Jobes lashed out with a fist, striking him solidly in the face and sending him sprawling.

Spittle spraying from his mouth, he screamed down at the man "We're going to kill them all! Every last one of them!!"

Spinning towards the tank parked beside them, he all but shrieked at the stunned artillery officer "Shoot the place up, now!!

Stunned, the man hesitated. "But our men are in there..."

Jobes lunged for his handgun, wrenching it from its holster and aiming it unerringly at the man's frightened face.

"I won't ask again. I told you to fire. Now, fire!"

Shaking, the man dropped within the tanks interior, sharing a helpless look with the tank driver, before swivelling the turret towards the building. As he lined up the sights, handles shaking on the controls, he wondered what insanity he'd gotten into, and muttered "God help us..." as this tense finger pulled back on the triggers.

Inside, Bill's team had reached the bottom of the stairwell and were almost to the end of the first corridor, when the building rocked as the projectile struck the doors above. Armour piercing round penetrated the solid steel like butter, shrieking into the foyer area to explode against the elevator shaft, pulverising the concrete structure.

They were thrown to the ground, showered with plaster tiles loosened from the partition ceiling as the emergency lights in the corridor flickered and dimmed, resuming a hesitant light a heartbeat later as dust settled around them. Bill, face pale under the patina of dirt, regained his feet to cajole the group to hurry up.

His actions couldn't have happened soon enough. A second and third explosion followed the first, and the abused staircase they'd vacated collapsed, unable to withstand the onslaught, showering the far end of the corridor in rubble.

In the relative peace that followed, one of the policemen coughed, before muttering darkly "Well, that pretty much eliminates that route." Nodding absently, Bill sighed and said "Pretty much, yes. I guess we can only head back downstairs to the portal, and see if we can track down Scott and Cameron."

It was a sober group that left the area into the building depths.

________________________________________________________

Entei watched the portal through hooded eyes; the shimmering surface, normally mesmerising in its mirrored perfection, much less so in its present state of decay. To the uninitiated, the problems plaguing it wouldn't have seemed especially concerning, but every nerve in Entei's body itched with the "wrongness" of it.

Other than his uncomfortable stirring, the place was deathly quiet. The equipment hum was minimal, and the dark room was almost peaceful, notwithstanding the stink of all the dead humans.

Arceus, humans stank at the best of times, but they were even more offensive when inside out, an inner voice whispered to him, and he snorted at the unworthy thought.

Perhaps Suicune was getting to him after all, he thought to himself dryly, given the comment was one more prone to escape from his brother than him.

Keeping his ears pealed for change, he closed his eyes, trying to ignore the portal's insistent internal clamour. For a moment, he felt at peace; the first time in a long time. Since Suicune had joined him in their failed search for Raikou, in fact. Not one for "companionship", the big pokemon had always preferred his own company than that of others, as his senses could generally tell when people around him were nervous.

Unsurprisingly, they seemed awfully nervous around him an awfully large amount of the time.

Except the human Rodney, of course. That one wasn't afraid of anything, he mused, mind calming as he pondered the odd enigma the aboriginal man posed.

He'd almost drifted off to sleep when all hell broke loose, jolting him wide awake.

The ground shook as dust, disturbed from the ceiling, powdered down to cloud the air. A huge crack, dribbling large chunks of debris, opened in the roof above him, and he only managed to avoid being struck with superhuman effort, leaping awkwardly to land hard on one foreleg; his heavy bulk strained tendons to tearing point. Snarl crossing his face at the pain, he speared his gaze around the room, trying to locate the source of the disturbance, but as a second, then third, concussion rocked him almost to his knees, he realised the root of the disturbance lay elsewhere in the building above.

Distracted, he failed to notice the telltale ripple indicative of a portal transference. The first he knew something was deadly wrong was being flung backwards, landing heavily again in a cry of pain, as his shoulder exploded in agony. Furious, he located the origin of the new threat; a group of Sinnotech guards were kneeling before the portal frame, while more and more erupted through its surface. When they again began firing at him, he struggled to his feet, sprinting awkwardly as best he could towards the huge room's entrance. He wasn't fast enough, as another round clipped his skull, and he crashed outside into the corridor in a huge heap of fur and muscle.

Dazed, his blurring vision sought the enemy, now standing and beginning to approach. With no other option, he erupted a massive fireball at the heavy, half closed steel doors to the room, which in moments went from fiery white to slagged, dropping from their tracks to fuse into an impervious barrier protecting him from their advances.

But the last of his strength then fled, and he collapsed in an unconscious heap before it.

___________________________

Authors note:

I wrote this chapter twice.

It took me, oh...how many moths to get it written once? Then, as some will know, my POS Asus 2 in 1 tablet shit itself, literally just as I pressed saved, and I lost it.

So, 5000+ words gone. No record, and had to try remembering what I'd written.

Which was a little odd, given I'm now not sure which version is better; the original, or this one?

There were some puns in the first for the life of me I couldn't remember, which irked me no end. But at least it got done eventually. Twice.

Bloody computers!

Still, another death in the wings. Can you work out who it (or possibly they) will be? Spoilers! ;)

The end is sort of nigh tho. No more months delays to finish this. Gonna be sooner rather than later. Quicker not slower.

insert more corny cliques here

Da da da DUM!