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Silver Wings

© 2000-2001 Strata Drake of NEWST.

Chapter Four: Ultimatum

Sheridan banged his head upon the radar console at the thought of Nigel's team. The Red Dragon had previuosly taken prisoners only once, and why remained a mystery. Although they did recover a prize early on, when Bryson returned to the surface, the only word of Nigel's progress was the communiqué from one of the Red Dragon command tanks. And, by that message, Sheridan had twelve hours to respond--which by now meant two hours of preparation plus eight hours to spare.

Drake lay atop Sheridan's console in a sunny spot while Sheridan leafed through the data reports the research crew had submitted after examining the recovered data disks. Had they explored the base their first time, the Nova Dragon schematics would have been valuable information during the war. Although the armor specifications were too corrupted to salvage from the data, the weapon system data was not, so Sheridan had instructed the research crew to construct some of the systems for their defenses. Aireus' schematics were on disk seven, and with those in hand, the research crew did put together a few self-repair circuits. They planned to integrate the self-repair circuits with Phoenix base defenses, and even before producing a few more of the circuits, had booked the construction crew with work. At least Sheridan got a request of his own from the team--he reserved one of the circuits to place in Drake's systems.

Sheridan looked back at Drake. Let come what may, if their forces would need to penetrate a Red Dragon underground installation, they'd need some armed forces, and his loyal pet mech would need some defense systems. Auto-repair would be at the top of that list. With pilot Bryson's report of the new Red Dragon security drones in the bases, a thought flickered across Sheridan's mind. He stood up and called Drake to follow him before leaving HQ to prepare for departure, with Drake hopping down from the console and chasing after him.

Sheridan transmitted a few more layouts to his forces--all of them--about where they'd be goind, what they would do at the rendezvous, and most importantly, what to prepare for. Sheridan gave a few orders to the loader group regarding additional supplies, and they adhered to those orders on the Q.T., loading up two cargo trucks to take along. Sheridan told the group to gather at Seadrake's pads and give him a call when they were all prepared. Until then, Sheridan had work to do, heading to one of the research labs with Drake, preparing the lab's instruments for use, summoning two friends from the robotics crew, and--lastly--switching Drake's systems off-line so he could work on installing the auto-repair circuit.

Four hours later, Sheridan received the call that his group was ready, and after switching Drake back on-line, Sheridan left the labs to board his command tank. Drake's operation was a success--his new auto-repair circuits were functioning properly, no incidents occured during the procedure, and Drake himself was as compliant as an anesthetized patient. Climbing aboard and switching on its systems, Sheridan relayed the group as Drake hopped into his own seat in the tank. There was just enough space left for one more person, perhaps Falco or Aireus. Sheridan briefed his group. "Okay, troops...we've got six hours to meet the Red Dragon at their island coordinates. Keep the weapons armed and hot, but no firing unless we're fired upon first. Whatever these enemies of ours may be up to, we've got to be ready for it. Unless there are any last-minute questions, we're off."

There were no last-minute questions, so Sheridan took the lead and headed out onto the water, followed by the two cargo hovertrucks, his five repair drones, and twenty-five Seadrake pilots. Radar scans were clear, visibility was in the high 400m, although there was a slight cold wind blowing in from the northwest.

Sheridan led the group northwest across the waters. Ten minutes later, the Red Dragon island cropped into view. Checking his maps, Sheridan confirmed that the island contained a nuclear missile silo underneath--a perfect site to find the Red Dragon. However, there were no Red Dragon forces of any kind visible or detected around the island or underneath its waves. Maybe they had arrived early. Such would be their luck. Ever since their arrival on the Eurasian shorelines, they had scarcely been able to beat the Red Dragon to any location, recalling how many resources they had taken from the Red Dragon's possession and the Red Dragon bases they had taken down.

Sheridan moved his group up onto the island's shores, just in off of the water. Sensors still registered a blank, but their entrance was noted as a camoflauged Red Dragon cyborg spotted them and retreated behind a small hillside. A minute later, the ground began to shake as the Red Dragon opened their missile-silo doors and brought a contingent of armed cyborgs to the surface via elevator lifts. With the armed cyborgs also came the new security drones. Sheridan blinked at the drones' resemblance to Drake, and Drake took noticeable interest in the drones as well.

Another lift hoisted one more group of armed cyborgs to the surface, and Sheridan spotted his comrades among the group. All of them. Sheridan picked up his radio-link to contact Nigel as the cyborg groups escorted their captives to Sheridan's side of the silo doors. Without a word, the cyborgs motioned Nigel's group towards Sheridan, and they quickly obliged.

Sheridan radioed them. "Come in, Nigel. What exactly did you guys step in this time?"

Nigel responded. "Sheridan!? Glad to see you guys here! Those Red Dragon zombies didn't tell us anything about what was going on, so we were a bit concerned for ourselves. We'll tell you all about it once we get back home."

Sheridan radioed back. "Okay. Falco, with me. Nigel and everyone else, board cargo trucks 1 and 2...they'll help you catch up." Most of the Red Dragon cyborgs took the lifts back underground, but a few of them still remained and the silo doors opened wider. Falco opened the top hatch on Sheridan's tank and climbed in. He climbed into the copilot chair and cast a glance at the missile silos. "I take it you've met?"

Sheridan nodded. "Only in the usual method--hostility. We've already had a confrontation with their forces some hours ago. They're using these missile silos as entrances to their bases. Any luck on your end?"

Falco shook his head. "Not of the good kind." Falco looked at Drake. "They've got a helluva lot of those security drakes down below. Aireus dispatched quite a few of them by himself, but down in that base, we were still outnumbered by them. At least they took us alive--"

Sheridan recognized a threat as a few lifts hoisted a Red Dragon command tank to the surface. Grabbing his raiolink, he relayed an order to Nigel. "Get back to base and bring back Phoenix--I think we're going to need them!"

More Red Dragon blips appeared on radar from underwater, and moments later, they surfaced near the island and grouped around the commander unit. The silo doors slowly shut and the cyborgs boarded a few of the smaller units. Sheridan's careful planning was revealed as his cargo trucks opened their bays, with Nigel and Shaera taking their own VTOLs to the air and then back southeast towards home base.

Falco looked at the enemy forces. "What is this--are they coming to see us off?"

Sheridan detected the Red Dragon forces powering weapons. "'s more like a trap!" Falco looked back. "And we're the bait?" Sheridan relayed the group. "Heat 'em up, boys!"

The Red Dragon tanks opened fire, and true to their orders, Sheridan's forces returned fire. Sheridan backed his tank to the rear of the group as they fired volleys of missiles and shells back and forth across the silo doors. The silo doors closed slowly as the maelstorm commenced.

Sheridan ordered most units to fire at will against targets of their own choice and ordered evasive maneuvers while he targetted the most dangerous enemy unit there--the enemy commander. Initially, only five of the Seadrake pilots followed his coordinates to focus-fire. However, Sheridan called it off when he recognized the enemy commander using its defensive EMF for protection. Instead, Sheridan targetted the most lightly-armored enemy unit in the fray. Although what appeared to be a leopard-chassis tank in fact had Dragon-strength durability, so it required an unprecedented five salvoes of Scourges to scrap the tank.

Whatever the armor compounds for the light tank were, there would be no time to scrounge any parts from it, as Sheridan's repair drones were busy doing in-field repairs. With the five drones, Sheridan's group had just enough repair-ability to effectively nullify the damage they were receiving. Sheridn targetted a medium-strength foe this time, and unlike the smaller tank, they levelled it in three salvoes of missiles and shells.

By now, the Red Dragon had lost five units. However, a few more blips were appearing on radar as a group of Red Dragon aquatanks rose to the water surface and began firing. Sheridan whirled his tank around to get a lock on one of the water units. Several of his pilots complied and fired missiles off-shore at the designated target. Two salvoes, and the target retreated underwater.

Sheridan's system alarm signalled as the enemy commander took aim at Sheridan's own unit. He grabbed the radiolink. "All units: Focus-fire on my mark!" Sheridan targetted one of the enemy missile tanks, specifically, at its turret. His group aimed in that direction and disabled the launcher, forcing the tank to retreat. The enemy tanks opened fire on Sheridan's own. Sheridan re-routed the repair vehicles to repair his own while his group attacked and disabled another tank, forcing it to retreat as well.

The enemy tank mirrored Sheridan's move, focusing his group at one of Sheridan's comrades. In two salvoes, the enemy forces shattered one of Sheridan's missile launchers and targetted another. Sheridan returned the favor with another salvo aimed at an enemy hovertank, and took it out. As the damaged enemy tanks retreated, another group of cargotrucks appeared from the opposite side of the island, moved onshore, and unloaded three Scourge cyborgs apiece, for a total of twelve. Sheridan's laser comrades siezed their advantage and fired, taking out one cyborg in two bursts and another in a few more.

Sheridan recognized more Red Dragon blips appearing on radar from underwater, and ordered his group on a slow retreat. If anything, mobile targets would prove harder to hit, and at least momentarily, Sheridan would have the advantage of evasive maneuvers--and unlike hovertanks, cyborgs don't swim, so that would offer protection against enemy Scourges. Cyborg-armed missiles had always proven more accurate and damaging than tank-fired missiles; getting out of range would be to Sheridan's advantage.

Help was on the way as Nigel's voice broke radio silence. "Don't go hogging all the action, Raiden Leader...we want a piece of it too, you know!" Phoenix flew in, all twenty assorted jets, with Nigel and Shaera leading half of the group each. Armed with jet lasers and sir-to-ground missiles, Nigel's team had prepared well for the fight. They opened fire on the enemy cyborgs, and quickly neutralized them. Sheridan kept up the fire on the Red Dragon defense force. Sheridan radioed back. "Nigel; take shots at the commander. He's got a smaller version of the Sea Dragon EMF, you've got the best chance of anyone here to take him out."

Nigel's team complied, and his half of the Phoenix Fleet circled and opened fire on the enemy commander. The commander returned fire as best as it could, although the only things proving accurate against Nigel's jets were a threesome of pulse lasers. Sheridan filled in by taking out another enemy hovertank entirely and aiming at another. Shaera's half of the fleet assisted Sheridan by dropping missiles upon the enemy tanks. With aerial support, Red Dragon tanks dropped one by one, until a scant two were left functional. The Red Dragon forces were now showing signs of retreat, except for the commander, which stood there under EMF protection. Sheridan took aim at the enemy command unit and fired. Although only their lasers were actually hitting the EMF barrier, their conventional weapons were still inflicting some damage--albeit a mere 2 or 3 percent what they would normally be capable of.

Sheridan received a short transmission from the command unit. It said, "Begone!" Exceptionally short and to-the-point, not unlike Sheridan's previous 'conversation' with that same commander. The missile silo doors slowly opened again, and the Red Dragon lifted to the surface a frightful sight. Far from a Nova Dragon, they were more like two mobile fortresses, with Dragon-sized chassis, one with powerful hover engines for speed, and the other with heavily-armored tracks. One of the super-tanks was armed with an unfamiliar sort of cannon, and the other was armed with a likewise unknown variety of missile launcher. As the commander retreated to the back lines, the super-tanks opened fire. The ground shook slightly as its 155mm cannon fired a shell at Sheridan's group. It inflicted 80 percent damage on one of Sheridan's comrades in a single shot! The pilot of that tank evacuated to one of the cargo trucks for his safety, as Sheridan's group returned fire and the unfortunate tank caught fire from the shell's incendiary compounds. The second tank opened fire with a flurry of twenty mini-rockets. from each launcher. The mini-rockets perforated another of Sheridan's comrades. However, it only inflicted two percent damage. Sheridan detected a large energy build-up from that tank. He radioed his comrade. "Get to safety!"

The second tank released a plasma-strength bolt of electricity into its target. Upon impact, the impaled mini-rockets it previously launched instantly detonated, scrapping the tank in a single blow and leaving nothing--not even the pilot--left. A weapon later known as the N.R.G.Spike, Sheridan instantly recognized its threat and ordered a full retreat in the opposite direction. Shaera's group unloaded the last of their payload into one of the supertanks before heading back, while Nigel's group continued to attack with their laser batteries. The supercannon tank fired a shot into the air around Nigel's swarming group. The shell exploded in mid-air with a Ground-Shaker like explosion and a HQ-sized ball of flame. Yet thanks to thermal shielding, Nigel's group took little damage from the burst. Nigel's group discharged the remainder of their laser batteries and afterwards joined Sheridan's retreating group.

The missile-tank opened fire with its spike-rockets as Sheridan's group retreated. The rockets splashdowned all around Sheridan's group but failed to inflict damage as Sheridan's group moved farther out of range. The supercannon tank fired another shell in Sheridan's direction, but fell short as well, resulting in little more than steam as its incendiary compounds doused against the water. The tracked super-tank could not follow Sheridan's forces, and the other remained on the island, refusing to chase. However, a rematch against these two supertanks was guaranteed.

Back at base, Nigel, Falco, and Shaera began their debriefing at HQ. They gave detailed information about the security drakes, including their four operative modes, shoulder-mounted attack systems, and F.R.Brandon intelligence chips. Sheridan took a bit of interest in the chips, noting how Drake was made using the same (although American-made) technology. Nigel concurred, and Drake was pacing about the room in circles.

Second on the debriefing agenda was the Nova Sea Dragon's remains. Sheridan took a look back in their records of the Red Dragon's war before asking a question of his own. "When defeated, the Nova Sea Dragon sank beneath the waves. And now, we discover it in Red Dragon territory. Any idea what they plan to do with the remains of it?"

Nigel answered back. "No idea at all. Given the Red Dragon's use of its EMF generator, they must have been able to salvage something..."

Sheridan shook his head. "Negative, Nigel. We recovered its EMF." Looking at the research crew, he asked them. "Didn't we?"

The scientist responded. "We did recover its EMF generator. And according to the Sea Dragon's disk schematics, it had but one EMF generator. If we recovered the generator, it's anyone's guess how the Red Dragon is able to build their own."

Sheridan glanced at Drake (who was still pacing) for a moment before speaking again. "Except that they had the Nova Dragons, and their schematics, in their arsenal for who knows how long. The possibility could exist that they were able to duplicate it in time, as our team did against the Nova Sky Dragon."

Nigel continued. "Either way, they have access to Nova Sea Dragon technology. Reason has it, they should also have access to jamming tech and stealth tech. And with those underground bases of theirs, it's who knows where--or when--they can just 'pop up'."

Falco interrupted. "And then there's the Phantom forces. They've kept away from us almost at all costs. And with their stealth tech, they can hide from us like no one else--in this weather, only their units could go un-noticed by visual sweeps. Whatever they wish to do, they wish to do it alone, and we can't do anything to stop them."

Sheridan responded. "Correct. However, the prospect of entering an underground Red Dragon base is a difficult one, even if they only have two. We've already lost one pilot in battle due to the surprises the Red Dragon dealt us at the island. With those security drakes and patrolling cyborgs, it'd be naive to think that they don't have more surprises buried beneath the soil."

Nigel spoke up. "We already encountered enough surprises in that base. Their nuclear missiles are inactive, but they're using them as power sources, and possibly weapon compounds as well. Of the first silo we found, one of the missiles was empty of its warhead and the other was 70% depleted. No one could exhaust nuclear warhead compounds that quickly just by generating power. They must also be extracting the uranium compounds for use in weapons."

One member of the repair crew interrupted the discussion with more information. "Now that you mention it, our repair drones had removed almost a hundred pounds of radioactive compounds from our tanks during the war, and they had removed almost an entire pound of it from today's battle alone. We figured it was just fragments from our own vehicle reactors, except that the affected units' reactors were at normal capacities. Given the depletion of nuclear compounds from Red Dragon missiles, that's exactly what they're doing with the plutonium. There's no other explanation."

Sheridan continued. "Anyway, even with their largest underground bases, we can't just waltz in there with our normal forces. We'd have to assemble an away-team and take out their bases from the inside. And for that kind of combat, we're too low on manpower to get the job done. It's a long shot, but... if we could get some form of communications built with the Phantom forces, or better yet an alliance, we may be able to enlist their help against the Red Dragon."

Nigel looked at Sheridan. "That makes sense only because the Phantoms fought against the Red Dragon with us. I'd be up for such a job, except that any and all Phantom tanks would blend in with the scenery and we wouldn't be able to spot them from the air."

Sheridan looked at Drake, still pacing about the room, and returned comment to Nigel. "We could try spotting them from land, except that by radar scans, we can only see them when they want to be seen. We'd have better luck chasing real ghosts."

Sheridan grabbed Drake as he paced around his side of the conference table. "I knew I was forgetting something! Where's Aireus?"

Everyone looked around. Nigel spoke up. "Sir?"

Sheridan looked back at Drake for a moment. "Drake won't sit still. So where's Aireus?"

Nigel looked around. "I... sir... We lost him."

Sheridan shook his head. "No formalities please, Nigel. And what do you mean, 'lost' ?"

Nigel responded. "We lost track of him sometime before getting captured. He's still underground...."

Sheridan pounded the table with both fists, but could say nothing. Nigel kept talking. "With all due respect, sir...I mean Sheridan...even if Aireus is still inside the enemy base, I'm sure he'll make it out alive. Have you seen him in action?"

Sheridan shook his head. "We're not going to lose him again. Not this time..."

Nigel looked back. "He could take out a security drake in a single attack. With his abilities, he could take out forty, maybe fifty more by himself alone."

Sheridan looked at Drake, and then at Nigel. "But not alone. Manpower or not, we can't just leave him there. Assemble an away team. We're going back."

Falco looked at a blip on the radar screens. "Negative, Sheridan. Phantom sighting, 30 miles southeast. Aireus will just have to fend for himself...."

Could Aireus have agreed with Falco's comment, he would. Resting on a rafter high up one of the missile silos, he looked down as two patrols of security drakes passed below, while he continued to work on one of the laser batteries he had dismembered from a drake. He thought, Patrols seem to have stepped down since their capture. I didn't want to leave them in the dust, but some things must be done alone. Another patrol passed below while he finished wiring the battery to a mount on his left arm and calibrated its charger in preparation for use.

Many of his mobile systems were now finished with their self-repairs. Aireus looked below for a clearing. No security patrols anywhere. Aireus carefully leaped to an adjacent rafter for a different view of the silo. Still no patrols. Aireus leaped, diagonally, to a rafter that would give him a good view of the control room below. No patrols, no operating cyborgs either. Almost as if the silo was shut down for now. Aireus carefully climbed and jumped down from the rafter to the steel floor, using his damaged jump engines for a softer--and quieter--landing. Aireus made his way to a door, leading to one of the hallways. Aireus looked around the hall. The coast was clear, so he stealthily proceeded left down one avenue. He took another left at a small intersection and entered a small research lab of the base. Thinking of an idea, Aireus powered up one of the terminals for use and inputted his own Pre-Collapse clearance code. The terminal accepted the code and granted access.

Aireus drew up a map of the base. Memory circuits what they were, even he could forget the way around the old base, and despite some renovations made by the Red Dragon in the production rooms, the maps were still accurate. Aireus decoded the blips moving across the map in patrols. Triangular blips indicated a group of security drakes, while circular blips indicated cyborg patrols. He accessed the personnel log. It was remarkable Pre-Collapse in content, showing no rosters of Red Dragon soldiers. It could be reasoned that the Red Dragon created their own personnel logs or have encoded them to prevent tampering, but Aireus realized an idea. Aireus analyzed the security lockdown procedures and found a loophole in Red Dragon systems. The new computer systems were little more than a renovation of the old, Pre-Collapse systems, and Aireus identified one security block that could gain him relief from the base sensors.

Pre-Collapse security systems for the military bases used energy signatures to identify authorized personnel. Each individual soldier had their own biochemical signature that registered on the sensors, but with the inclusion of prototype security drakes and Aireus himself, all "authorized" mechs' energy signatures would be registered in a "Authorized Personnel" database. Energy-signature codes from known hostile forces would be placed in a "Shoot It" database. With proper maintenance, the Pre-Collapse security systems could instantly identify authorized personnel, un-authorized personnel, and hostile forces even from a base-wide preliminary scan. Aireus noticed that several dozen energy signatures were registered in the "Authorized Personnel" database by the Red Dragon. After locating the whereabouts of each energy signature, Aireus concluded that the Red Dragon placed the signatures from their cyborgs and security drakes in this category.

Aireus drew a terminal link from his lefthand mount and accessed the terminal directly, from his own systems. Using his Pre-Collapse clearance codes (which still worked), Aireus registered his own energy signature in the "Authorized Personnel" database. At best, this would allow him to go un-noticed by Security Drakes, or at the very least, prevent base-wide scanners from detecting his position. Indeed, when Aireus accessed the base map again, the yellow blip that identified his location was absent from the display, and his position now represented by a green blip.

As if on cue, a trio of security drakes, apparently in 'search' mode, entered the lab from the hallway and investigated. They sniffed out the room, and Aireus himself, without responding in any hostile way. After a minute of examination, the trio left the lab and continued their usual patrol throughout the hallway. Apparently, Aireus's idea had worked, rendering him invisible to the security drakes--at least for now. It would still be unknown whether this guise would work on the Red Dragon cyborgs. For since cyborgs are generally controlled remotely by a human, their operators could recognize Aireus as something unusual.

Aireus followed the security drakes into the hall and around a few more bends, bringing him closer to the larger production room. One sight intrigued him as he passed a side corridor--two unusual-looking tanks were being towed through one of the vehicle halls, from one of the silos to (presumably) the production room. These were the same two tanks which surprised Sheridan and Nigel's forces in their battle, although to Aireus's view this was inferrable only by battle scratches and laser burns across their armor. Aireus noticed the troupe being followed up by a battle-scarred Red Dragon command unit and a few cyborgs. After they passed, Aireus followed them into the corridor and tagged along somewhat behind the tanks, hopping aboard one of the automated transport lifters for a ride. One of the Red Dragon cyborgs gave Aireus a strange look accompanied by a electronic message: "State your clearance"

Aireus responded electronically, "Authorized personnel as per security database", towards the cyborg. The answer satisfied the 'borg, and it resumed its work of towing the tanks to the production room. With their rate of travel, it took five minutes to reach the production room. As the battle tanks were lowered off of the lifts and placed on designated repair pads with a dozen security drakes poring over the armor and repairing damage. The command unit was shuffled to the opposite side of the production room, where the remains of the Nova Sea Dragon lay. Aireus walked carefully--and quietly--across the room to the other side, and accessed a terminal for information about the two supertanks. Their schematics displayed on the monitor, and Aireus used his system link to download the data--Sheridan's team might be interested in those schematics, especially since their forces had apparently fought the tanks in battle. The first tank was codenamed Scintaros, and armed with a napalm cannon named the "Dragon Fire". The second tank was codenamed Stratos, armed with the electrostatic "N.R.G.Spike" rocket launching mechanism.

Aireus looked at the tanks. Not quite Novadragon material, but the second best thing. Armor plating to deflect most attacks, and weapon systems that any self-respecting unit would fear. Aireus had a thought. These weapons should never be used in battle. Even though Aireus didn't know how much damage those supertanks had already inflicted on Sheridan's forces, he knew one thing--they should never see the light of day again. Aireus obviously lacked the firepower necessary to destroy either the Stratos or the Scintaros. Only one thing could guarantee their destruction. If Aireus could access the silo systems and rig the nuclear missile to self-destruct, Aireus could annihilate the supertanks--and the underground base--in a single blow. Unfortunately, unless Aireus could escape, it would also mean his destruction as well.

After a moment's hesitation, Aireus walked over to the Stratos tank and climbed aboard. He withdrew one of his last two mini-rockets and attached a delayed-detonation switch to the rocket before placing it in the cockpit, underneath a control panel. This would serve as a diversion so that Aireus could quickly reach the missile silo. Aireus set the detonator for a sixty-second delay and afterwards, quickly left the production room through the nearest door.

Aireus was halfway down the hallway when his minirocket detonated, obliterating much of the Stratos's control systems. The production alarms sounded, and without hesitation, a large score of drones ran to the production room to investigate, accompanied by cyborgs. None of the enemies regarded Aireus as he kept walking down the hall to the silo. As he entered the doors, he was in luck. The silo control room was emptied of Red Dragon personnel, which meant that Aireus would have no one looking over his shoulder for awhile. Aireus quickly marched to the control room and accessed a terminal directly. Aireus accessed the missile controls and began entering the self-detonation code. His own Pre-Collapse security clearance still provided him control over the system. Aireus stopped for a moment while pondering what the detonation count should be. He set it for one hour. Barring any incidents along the way, Aireus could reach the surface in ten minutes, but that sort of luck would be unheard of; and Aireus had fared little better during their war against the Red Dragon. Aireus knew the warheads well--the nuclear missiles not only used their warheads for destruction, but also used them as a min-reactor for power. Missile detonation happened only by reactor overload, and once an overload reaches critical mass (approx. 5 minutes into a 1-hour count), stopping it becomes impossible. Aireus initiated the sequence. The control room's and silo's lights changed to red and Defcon-1 sounded.


No sooner had Aireus terminated his link with the system than a troupe of security drakes and cyborgs entered the silo, weapons hot. Aireus looked at his opponents. No confirmation was necessary; by initiating an unexpected self-destruct of the missiles, Aireus had inevitably placed his energy signature into the "Shoot It" database. Aireus prepared for combat, his sabre repaired by his own systems, one minirocket left, and a salvaged laser battery begging for a field test. Aireus rolled to the side as the enemies opened fire, shattering several windows of the control room. Aireus jumped into the fray and disabled one of the six drakes quickly. Another drake fell, and Aireus disabled one of the 'borgs with his laser battery. As the drakes counterattacked, Aireus took minor damage and kept fighting. At close range, outnumbered, and with enemy reinforcements coming in every ten seconds, it took about five minutes for Aireus to clear the room of foes. By now, the self-destruct sequence was unstoppable, with fifty-five minutes until detonation.

Aireus ran out of the silo into one of the hallways leading upwards. The entire base was now alerted to Aireus's presence, and he was fighting every inch and foot of the way against more security drakes, each set on their "Destroy" mode. Enemy cyborgs were nowhere to be seen, but the drakes were fighting like mad. Overriding their normal "friendly-fire" systems, many drakes acidentally shot each other during the fights. As Aireus reached the fourth level, the resistance was not letting up. Aireus still had a mini-rocket at his disposal, but it was his last, and he'd need to save that for something special. Time was beginning to run out, now with twenty minutes until detonation.

Aireus had barely reached the B2 research laboratory when he came under attack. The enemy's attack knocked Aireus into the research laboratory before he could react. Reflexively, Aireus counterattacked with his last mini-rocket. The enemy blocked it, however, and charged in Aireus' direction, blade first. Aireus grabbed his own sabre from the floor and engaged the Red Dragon's latest weapon . . . .


(click and drag to reveal answers)

What technology has the Red Dragon used in this chapter that never appeared--even remotely--in the Warzone 2100 campaign?

Weapons aside, the one new technology in this chapter is submarine-hover propulsion, allowing Red Dragon hovertanks to literally appear "out of the waters". Remote-controlled drones have not explicitly been used in Warzone 2100, but cyborgs are by Warzone 2100's definition a remote-controlled unit.

Aireus discovered that his Pre-Collapse security clearance still worked. Any ideas why?

Either the Red Dragon didn't re-program the systems, didn't know how to, or may have wanted Aireus to have access. Given Aireus's run-in with a new mystery opponent, option #3 may be likely.