The Commander is a Gamer - Chapter 50 - ShadowGhost141 - 니케: 승리의 여신 (2024)

Chapter Text

At the North, things were quite peaceful… minus the occasional Rapture attack of course which the defenders always managed to dispatch. Throughout the next couple of days, William had begun spending more time with the girls, along with Ludmilla and Alice. Thanks to the fact he had a bunch of free time due to the vacation, William had decided to do some actual relaxing with the various Nikkes and T Dolls for once since he couldn’t do much else, what with the situation in the Ark being so tenuous.

It still baffled him somewhat how the Raptures managed to whoop his forces’ asses so thoroughly.

Right now though, he’s sitting with Ludmila in her quarters, the two of them drinking some wine in small glasses. Thanks to the time being late afternoon, the skies were quite dark with the main light source being the faint moon rays breaking through the clouds. Thus, they were currently sitting with a tranquil, peaceful ambience, a fireplace blazing away in the distance generating this homely warmth. “So Servant… I heard about the siege back at your fortress…” she whispered, drawing William’s attention to the way her eyes darkened as she stared down at her wine glass. “Me and Alice… we got quite worried after it nearly was taken down by the Raptures somehow, what was it you called it that awakened inside those walls a… Metal- Metal…”

Knowing what she was intending to say, William winced as he stared at his reflection in the glass. Even now, he still struggled to process how the f*ck this had happened, the horizon variant raptures were one thing, but… “Metal Gear RAY… yeah… I have no idea how that got here either…” he remarked, the lack of knowledge of his situation that much more frustrating when he pictured the horrid states his Nikkes and T Dolls were put in during the siege. “But I’mma going to assume the Raptures have pretty much acquired that tech from somewhere, I have no idea how… I do know that Metal Gear came from the Metal Gear Series, one ultimately from the Revengeance game… that game is where I was playing as the cyborg: Raiden as they called him and he can lift these things with his superhuman strength…”

“Wow… that’s actually quite amazing and concerning… considering the power gap that we now have… I’m now more worried about Elysium getting attacked by one of those things… I’m hoping our defenses will hold but, the presence of one of those things is scary enough…”

“Don’t we have mechs of our own?” William then questioned, remembering the mechs of the Rising Sun faction such as the King Oni and the Steel Ronin that are patrolling Elysium right now. Those mechs along with the Avatars (with all four upgrades of course and not from cannibalizing other units thanks to some of the Nod Scientists revising the blueprints to integrate: Particle Beam Laser, Flamethrower, Stealth Detector and Stealth Generator.) and Future Tank X-1’s are patrolling the surrounding area along with the other various units and Nikkes that have taken up patrols around Elysium to prevent such attacks like the city fortress from happening again. There are also some GDI Behemoth and Juggernaut mobile artillery emplacements placed around and somewhere away from Elysium too; they have their own mini-bases and units protecting them at least.

But if he were honest, William wasn’t sure if they could handle something like a metal gear, the sheer SCALE between the two forces were just too different. He wasn’t sure if those mechs could handle fighting a nuclear war or getting hit by a nuke, in the games Nod had such things and they practically wiped entire map sections out. Mechs included. MG Rays would definitely be able to tank such blows, they might be damaged but they would survive.

“We do, and we’ve been taking out plenty of Raptures lately… but it’s nothing we can’t handle. As long as more metal gears don’t show up that is…” Ludmila muttered, shuddering at the thought of having to deal with Metal Gear REX or worse yet, EXCELSUS.

Those things, hell no to fight them with their current arsenal.

“Well… at least you’re all safe here for the time being… I missed you two, Ludmilla… Alice…”

Ludmilla and William stand up as the former begins to walk up to him, hugging him.and then whispering into his ear. “We missed you too… William… we’re just glad that you’re all here… alive and well.” she whispered, burying her face into his chest.

Her warmth soothed many of the emotions raging inside his soul as William wrapped his arms around her frame, burying his face into her hair. “Me too…”

The two of them stayed in this position for a short while, then pulled back just enough that they could gaze into one another's eyes. The ambience illuminated one another’s features, casting their shadows on the floor beneath their feet. Each of the seconds that followed felt like an eternity to the duo, with Ludila’s eyes becoming lidded prompting William to slowly lean forward, eyes closing. Hers did the same and at that moment, the two planted their lips together in a soft, chaste kiss. William’s hands moved to her lower back and cheek respectfully, whilst Ludmilas wrapped around his neck, pushing herself into him alongside how he pulled her closer.

The makeout proved to be short but sweet, with some brief skinship in the form of William lifting Ludmila up and pinning her to a wall, with her white thigh-high clad legs wrapping around his waist to secure herself. Nothing ‘truly sexual’ happened, a rarity in times like these, instead they just focused on kissing and hugging one another, relishing in each other’s enclosed company…

Elysium - Outer Walls - Night

Once the two had recovered from the brief but sweet makeout session, they both set out to Elysium’s walls for some fresh snow air… “By the way,” Ludmilla then began as she had something on her mind recently thanks to the siege. “I heard that a Dragon-like mech that was built in a rush thanks to Isa who managed to save you before the fortress even fell… and… I heard that you had a Rapture Core stashed away in the Outpost too… that Dragon was a Rapture too, wasn’t it?”

“... Yup…” William then began to explain what happened as they walked around Elysium.

Before that siege, he’d gotten a functioning Rapture Core from Talentum’s scavenging op that nearly ended in catastrophe had his first convoy destroyed and the second one had all of its escorts obliterated.

The reason why he picked up that core was to find out why it warned them of that attack when it began beeping to life at them, he also explained how he and Marian came to understand the Rapture’s language thanks to whatever Chatterbox did to him with the code in his arm and it shocked Ludmilla actually… even somewhat perturbed that her Servant and Marian can even now communicate in the language of the enemy thanks to becoming Sovereigns now.

In the end, after that final battle with Modernia or rather a final surprise from Chatterbox… everything that he and Marian were before, were mostly overwritten by the Raptures themselves…

After explaining all of that to Ludmilla, she was rendered speechless at the revelation that Raptures have varying levels of intelligence just as humans do. Not to mention that this puts out a whole new perspective that the Raptures aren't as much of a hivemind as they thought they would be… “My word… so then the Raptures like Chatterbox also have the capabilities to communicate? But for Toshiaki as you called it… it swore allegiance to you both?”

The hybrid stopped before facing Ludmilla and nodded. “Yes… I’m honestly shocked as well… but the facts are all there… you could say we owe that core after it warned us, but now… things seem to be more complicated than I thought it would…”

“Yes…” Ludmilla lids as she looks at the walls surrounding Research Station and the rest of Elysium, the lively houses and facilities built thanks to the growing numbers from the Ark deserters. The walls also have some Reckoners (with Dozer Blades) deployed outside filled with various units, for protecting Elysium of course. But despite all of this protecting their home, part of her wonders if it will be enough thanks to the latest developments… “But aside from all of that, the Raptures seem to have their own masters too. Lately, we’ve also seen some activity a few clicks farther from here. They’re Raptures, but this group seems to be staying put for some reason…”

Huh, now that’s strange… Usually whenever Raptures sensed signs of life they would try to get right on to wreaking havoc and destruction, but could these Raptures have a bit more intelligence than the others they’d encountered?

“That’s interesting… but for now we’re just here to relax. Nothing too stressful for now, the girls deserve it. And besides…” He takes one of Ludmilla’s hands into his own as they both look up into the white moon looking over them.“I haven’t been able to spend my time with you two recently…”

“We know… but we’re quite glad that you’ve been giving your attention to us now, I want to continue making these moments with you. Would you be willing, my Servant?”

“Of course, my Queen!”

The two continued to patrol Elysium’s streets before finally going back to the Research Building to rest for the night. Ludmilla went on to her room with Alice and William set off to the Counters’ Room since they’ll be sleeping in the same bed.

Nothing sexual happened, they were just content to sleep in bed together.

The next day.

After that night, William woke up to Marian and Anis in both his arms, as well as Rapi and Neon who were sleeping in the same bed as him. Getting up, the male wound up making everyone’s breakfast for today with the cooks: William, Marian and Emma who’d awoken at the same time as him. Thanks to some patience Emma managed to ‘lessen’ her usual kitchen chaos from her past lessons with herself and Marian.

She and Marian usually go to the Outpost’s Mess Hall to cook meals for the girls there. Marian liked to cook as a hobby before becoming a Nikke, and Emma tried to cook but ended up almost either destroying a kitchen or two or even sending plenty of Nikkes to the Hospital… She's like one of those bad cooking character tropes that end up as a comedy character and whatnot like that black and red-haired swordswoman with a katana from another game: Punishing Gray Raven.

Some Whitefish, Trout, Bannock, Pemmican: a mixture of dried meat, fat, and berries. And lastly, Caribou meat turned into a stew.

“Pass me some of that Red Wine please, Emma?”

“Sure thing.”

William takes the bottle of Red Wine that was imported from the Ark and poured a half-cup into the bowl of Caribou meat that some of Elysium’s hunters managed to get out here on the surface, followed by some other ingredients needed for the stew.

Once everything was cooked, they brought and served the food to everyone's tables where they began to take their breakfast, with some cheesecake for dessert that everyone appreciated.

Some calm silence ran through the air as everyone ate their fill, with a few shared stories and some laughter from the Nikkes and T-Dolls themselves.

William, who is seated at a round mesh table with the Counters, Unlimited, Marian, Isa and Kalina. Began talking about some stuff about Elysium’s stories like, Nikke and former CG refugees wanting to escape that hole and whatnot. As well as some strange new Raptures that have begun popping up in some of their recent patrols too.

“So Isa, I had been wondering for a while about your new powers… ” Marian began while eating some of her food. “How have you been holding up with training them so far?”

“I think it went quite well… surprisingly I can summon my new wings more easily and… well, they did forbid me from firing any missiles inside the training chamber, hehehe…” Isa sheepishly grinned as she recounted a few times where her wings’ missiles misfired one time and blew a few holes in the walls. Fortunately she can control those rounds to a degree so they didn’t destroy too much, but nonetheless nobody had been amused. “And there’s another surprising thing about my Rapture Side.” She said as she stood up from her table and everyone in the room began to look at her.

She began to close her eyes and breathed in, then out, after that her entire form completely vanished out of thin air.

“Wha-!?” Privaty, as well as the other girls became wide-eyed and confused as they looked around to where she is, but William activated his Rapture Side and used his [Rapture Sense] and simply stared at where Isa is right now: right in front of him.

It didn’t stop him from staring in amazement though, with his mismatched eyes shining with awe. This reminded him of what the Dreadwing did to ambush them way back when practically pouncing on them with their pants down. “Seems like you got yourself some invisibility, sis. That’s amazing!”

She then undoes her invisibility cloak as she reappears in front of everyone around her. She grinned at a rather toothy grin as she rubbed the back of her head like a cheeky little gremlin.“Hehe, I know right?! That means I can skulk around enemies before they notice me!”

”Cool!” Neon cheered. “I wish I had this ability!” she then whined, her features turning into those of an indignant child as she crossed her arms under her chest and huffed. “I’d rob the Armory to get all the firepower I wanted. That’s a pretty cool ability to have, Isa.”

Anis pats Neon’s head (mentally thanking fortune that Neon didn’t have that ability, Eunhwa would throw a REALLY angry fit) to calm her down as she pouted like a puppy. “Easy there Neon… Commander can give you all the firepower you want, ok?”

“Puu…. alright…”

“Good girl.”

Everyone around them let out a few chuckles their way on how Neon acted like a cute puppy.

SOPMOD II then comes and takes Neon away after they all finished their meals to do some of their own stuff for the day. Those two would be hitting the range with each other to begin training on various firearms Neon liked.

Outside Elysium.

To kill some time, some of the girls went with him outside Elysium for some scouting. The party: Unlimited (Alice and Ludmilla), Triangle (Yulha, Privaty and Admi) and Isa with William As always, he’s taking the lead of the group as they take in some snowy sights around Elysium’s walls.

Do not worry though, they never venture out of a safe place without their weaponry and the two Sovereign’s weaponry are the same from the recent siege in the city.

“So, Commander. I heard that Neve liked Polar Bears… are there Polar Bears in your world too?” Privaty asked, looking back at what he and Isa had told about their worlds. “Knowing your world and theirs, there’s still plenty of living animals and plants there that are quite similar here. ”

“Yes, Privaty. Though it is becoming rarer to see living creatures on the surface right now…” Before they set out though, they’d gotten a request from the researchers about a missing patrol in the northern mountain area with an observation station that went offline some time ago. And for Neve, from Ludmilla and Alice’s testimony, she usually spends most of her time sleeping on the cold, northern surface to find white Polar Bears, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t handle herself as she can get the job done if that meant sleeping like a log right after.

Usually, she would respond to their calls, but she isn’t able to respond right now due to unknown circ*mstances, even the patrol that they were looking for wasn’t able to be raised on comms at the Station. So right now they’re investigating it while taking a really good view of the place.

“That is the place.” Ludmilla pointed in the distance of an Observation Tech Tower they captured and held. “What’s the call, Servant?”

Opening the map with his watch and pulling out his drone on auto mode, he sees two vantage points for the sniper teams to provide areas of overwatch. “Sniper Teams, Yulha and Admi on point A while Alice, you hold your position here on point B to provide overwatch. Privaty, Ludmilla, with me, Isa, go on a flanking route. We’ll scout the Observation Post up close ourselves. My drone will be overhead as well to scan the place for any surprises. Got it?”

“Yes, Commander/Servant/Rabbity!”

Isa immediately cloaked herself and vanished from sight, heading off to the flanking route.

As they approached the Observation Post, its imposing structure loomed ahead. The main tower rose to approximately 50 feet, tapering slightly as it ascended. The exterior was covered in reflective glass panels, providing a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Antennas and satellite dishes bristled on the roof, a testament to its communication and surveillance capabilities.

“Stay alert. We don’t know what we might find,” William reminded them as they neared the entrance lobby, a spacious area with a high ceiling and reinforced glass doors.

“Security’s tight,” Ludmilla observed, noting the metal detectors and ID scanners at the entrance.

William nodded, leading them inside. The lobby was quiet, almost eerily so. They moved through the security room next, monitors and control panels lining the walls, displaying live feeds from cameras around the building.

“No signs of struggle here,” Privaty remarked, glancing at the screens.

They continued through the storage room, shelves stocked with spare parts, tools, and maintenance equipment, and a secure vault for sensitive or high-value items. Everything seemed in order, but there was no sign of the missing patrol or Neve.

“Upstairs,” William directed, heading to the first floor.

The Observation Deck offered a circular platform with floor-to-ceiling windows providing an unobstructed view of the surroundings. High-powered binoculars and digital scopes mounted on stands were untouched.

“Still nothing,” Admi reported, keeping an eye on their rear.

They moved to the Communication Center next. Rows of consoles and communication devices were still active, but there were no personnel in sight. A large central screen displayed a map of the region with real-time updates, but nothing out of the ordinary.

“Command Center next,” William said, leading them to the second floor.

The Command Center was the nerve center of the Observation Post. A large holographic table displayed tactical maps and mission data. Workstations for officers and analysts were empty, and the commanding officer’s office was locked.

“Looks like they left in a hurry,” Ludmilla observed, noting the scattered papers and active consoles.

“Living quarters.” William said, moving to the next section.

The bunk rooms were empty, beds made and lockers closed. The common area was eerily quiet, a kitchenette and entertainment options like a holovid projector and gaming consoles untouched.

“Where is everyone?” Privaty asked, her tone uneasy.

“Rooftop.” William suggested, leading them up.

The rooftop was equipped with an antenna array and defense turrets. The antennas and satellite dishes for long-range communication and data gathering were intact, and the automated turrets stood ready.

“No signs of a fight here,” Alice noted, scanning the area with her sniper scope from her vantage point.

William’s drone scanned the surroundings but found no traces of the missing patrol or Neve.

“Underground bunkers,” William finally said, “they might have taken shelter there.”

They moved to the emergency bunkers, underground with reinforced walls and life support systems. As they approached, they heard faint sounds somewhere.

“Shh!” He shushed at the girls behind him while doing a closed fist with his hand to stop. Glancing around the hallway, he tries to find the source with his Rapture Sense, but no one is there. He shook his head as he then got back on track. “... Nevermind, keep moving. I don’t think we’re alone here…”

“... Got it…”

The three continue to arrive at the underground bunkers to where they suspected the patrol would be hiding out.

“Hey! Anyone in here?!” William called out as he opened the bunker doors with a bunker door button. But after the door opens and the lights come up… what was waiting for them were not only the patrol units, but also Neve who all ended up encased in a wall of ice.

Neve’s eyes moved in the direction of Burly Bear, but she couldn’t speak nor move.

“What the—” Before he could say anything else and the two women could react in time, a massive hand grabbed William and pulled him back violently.

A Gorilla-like Rapture mech emerged from the shadows, manipulating wind and ice around it. It moved with surprising speed and power, its sensors locking onto William.

“Ambush!” Privaty shouted, raising her weapon, but William was already pinned against the wall by the Rapture’s immense strength.

Privaty and Ludmilla immediately engaged the mech, their coordinated attacks barely denting its thick armor. The mech retaliated with crushing blows, pushing them back with sheer force.

“Privaty, Ludmi-AGH!!” The brute Rapture kept its grip on William’s body as he slammed him into a wall, the wall in question now had a really big f*cking hole that let in some snowy winds as he was thrown out a fair distance, at least several hundred kilometers, before crashing into the snowy terrain, sliding across it a good 60 meters before halting to leave a long gash-like fissure in his wake.

After William was tossed outside, he could only lift his head and stare in gobsmacked horror. Why? Simple, the moment he laid eyes ahead he bore witness to an entire layer of ice spreading across the Observation Post, turning it into a pseudo iceberg which effectively trapped everyone inside.

‘No!’

Before the male could get to his feet and do anything…

THUD!

A loud thud accompanied the massive form of the Gorilla Rapture mech, which had landed in front of the male in question and generated a shockwave from its landing. The icy winds whipped around them as the mech approached cautiously, its massive form casting a shadow over William once more.

The impact had knocked the wind out of him, but William managed to scramble to his feet amidst the swirling snow and icy wind. His muscles protested as he steadied himself, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he faced the imposing Gorilla Rapture again.

With a grunt of effort, William manifested his Rapture side once again, his Tails and Scarves being readied as he lunged forward, his training and instincts taking over as he engaged the mech in a desperate struggle. His blows landed against its thick armor, with each strike being met with a resounding clang, but he persisted, driven by a mix of determination and urgency to protect those trapped inside the Observation Post.

The Gorilla Rapture responded with surprising agility for its size, deflecting his attacks with calculated precision. Its massive hands moved with fluid grace, countering his every move with relentless force. Despite his best efforts, William was gradually pushed back, the mech's sheer strength proving to be a formidable adversary.

Their battle raged on amidst the howling wind and swirling snow, the icy landscape bearing witness to their clash. William fought with everything he had, each moment bringing him closer to exhaustion but refusing to yield.

Finally, with a swift motion, the Gorilla Rapture seized the opportunity, its immense hands closing around William's shoulders and pinning him down once more. He struggled against its grip, his breath coming in ragged gasps as he tried to break free, but the mech's hold was unyielding.

"You... cannot... win." the Gorilla Rapture rumbled, its voice resonating with a mix of mechanical certainty and warning.

William gritted his teeth, defiance burning in his eyes despite the dire situation. "I won't... give up…!" he managed to say through clenched jaws, his voice barely above a whisper.

The Gorilla Rapture's grip tightened around William's shoulders, pinning him down with overwhelming strength. The cold wind whipped around them as William struggled against the mech's unyielding hold, his mind racing for a way to turn the tide.

Drawing on his Rapture Side, William focused his energy on the scarves wrapped around his arms. With a swift, fluid motion, he unraveled them, the scarves transforming into shimmering ribbons of energy that glowed with a faint red and blue hue. Piercing then slashing at the brute’s hand armor and causing as much damage as possible to it.

The Gorilla Rapture let out a mechanical roar of pain and surprise as the scarves cut deep, forcing it to release its grip on William. Seizing the moment, William sprang to his feet, his breath coming in ragged gasps.

“What have you done with them!?” William snarled, his Rapture Side fully activated as he adopted a feral stance, tails and hounds peering out of his neck.

“Cease, human! We… aren’t here… to harm… you…” the Gorilla Rapture responded, its voice strained with the effort to communicate.

“Then what the hell do you want?! You encased some of my people in ice and trapped the rest of them inside the building! I wouldn’t count that as not harming anybody!” William shouted, his frustration and confusion boiling over as he faced the imposing mech.

The Gorilla Rapture emitted a low, rumbling sound, its sensors flickering as if trying to convey its message with urgency amidst the tension and swirling snow.

“ We… were hiding…”

Hearing this, William’s confusion increased tenfold, enough for him to slightly lower his guard although his hounds remained poised to attack. His chest tightened at the thought of his people in danger, forcing him to grit his teeth as he tried to be civil… as hard as that was. “From whom…?”

“The Queen… she’s coming… for us…”

The Queen? The Rapture’s Queen? It’s likely so since Toshiaki and the Dreadwing were few such examples of a Rapture gaining sentience on their own…

“Admi? Yulha? Alice?”

An idea hits the male, if he can’t do anything what about his sniper teams outside the observation post? He tries to raise the remaining snipers on comms, but to his horror, he sees through the comm channel screen a bunch of T Dolls surrounding them. “W-We’re sorry, Commander… seems like they found out our positions as well… ” Admi muttered, she and Yulha have their hands up and Alice in another position has her hands up as well.

“What’s happening over there, Rabbity?!”

f*ck, looks like they were caught with their pants down… again. “... Seems like I met another one of… Toshiaki’s kind… only we probably stumbled upon their hiding place… and disturbed them…”

Just as they were talking though, Isa managed to raise her comms and it looks like she managed to get out of the Observation Post herself. Looking at the drone feed, she positioned herself somewhere atop the Observation Post’s Decks that hadn’t been completely encased in ice yet, something WIlliam sighed in relief that at least one of them is still standing out. “William, I don’t know what’s going on here but… I have a clear shot of where you are right now. Should I take the shot?” She asked as she aimed her ORSIS T-5000 at the ape’s rear head.

“... No. I want to listen to what it wants… we don’t know exactly how big this thing’s pack is but… we need to get the entire patrol and Neve home intact. And right now… we’re not at an advantage here…”

“Are you sure, brother…?”

“I’m sure… our priority is the patrol, if we can do this… quest for him, they’ll let everyone go.” He then stated, making Isa stand down and put away her weapon for the time being. She didn’t like this, but so did the rest of the group. But then after knowing the fact that he and Marian are the only ones who can communicate with Raptures, they seem to not have much choice other than to trust what it wanted them to do from his translation. ”And besides… something tells me that they could be another potential ally in the future too.”

Isa puts away her sniper rifle as she lets out a huff. “Alright… but if they do anything… I’ll kill them.”

“I’ll be right there with you, sis.” He then turns back to the Gorilla looking at him, with its eyes looking red with restrained hostility against the Sovereign before them. “I can listen to you for the time being… but you better keep your word, or I swear to you that you and everyone else will be killed instead…”

“I’ll keep… my word… they’re safe… inside Station… target: Ouroboros… Eliminate… send… coordinates… finish task… they’ll be… released…”

With a few blinking lights and a roar from the beast, the data had been sent to his watch for confirmation. Briefly glancing at the said device for a moment, the Sovereign redirected his gaze towards the larger entity. “Me and Isa will get this done.”

“I… will accompany… Sovereigns… can’t beat… Ouroboros… alone…”

“... Fine. Isa, heads up. This thing will be accompanying us…” He then glanced at it. “Come to think of it, you never really had a name yourself did you…?”

“No… name… Sovereign… provide…”

Huh… so it doesn’t have a name either… was it just a common human convention to give names to things? Thinking about it, William realized that Chatterbox only took the name because humans designated it as such. It wasn’t given one by even its freaking own kind…

Looking back on the gorilla’s abilities and such, as well as its snowy form, he decides to name it: “Cocytus. Your name will be Cocytus from now on. Will you accept that name?”

“Cocytus… name… registered… unit… now… named… Cocytus…”

Good. That at least simplifies things…

The Gorilla, now named Cocytus, lowered its back to him and Isa who came running afterwards. It gestured to both of them to jump on its back and they both comply for now to get on. But he also informs the rest of his team on comms though. “Privaty, Ludmilla, can you both hear me? Girls, listen up… me, Isa and… Cocytus over here, we’re gonna do a small sidequest for him… We help him take down Ouroboros… they’ll let our people go… and besides… I think we stumbled upon their refuge of the Queen's more rebellious Raptures, after the recent events…”

“... Got it… be careful out there, you two…”

“We will.”

And with that, Cocytus began setting off with William and Isa on his back for transport.

The trip to the coordinates was quiet for the most part… but William couldn’t help but be curious, about their own reasons for defecting from the Queen. “Why did you and your pack desert the Queen? You told me… that she was hunting you down…”

“Sentience… began learning… new things… about myself… about pack… what… was… reason… for existence…?”

Now that’s interesting… a Rapture, questioning its own existence on the matter… and why they’re fighting… “Why were you fighting…? You don’t really know much about humans, do you?”

“Correct… ” Cocytus would then go on to say about one of his experiences with other Raptures… basically how instead of following a certain hivemind, they began to start tearing each other apart… the Raptures themselves, they began to evolve in their own stages and forms, as well as creating their own packs to assert their power, dominance and… freedom from the Queen’s Control or even its continued allegiance to her, which disturbed the duo thanks to William’s translation.

Note: The reason why Isa hasn’t been able to understand the Raptures, is because she hasn’t evolved that ability yet herself and is still in the early phases of her evolution.

“So the Raptures… have begun to fight against each other, to create stronger versions of themselves?” he then said.

“Correct… different lifeforms… have emerged… Cocytus and Ouroboros… examples of such…” Cocytus would also tell of his first encounter with a human. How… instead of the human dying under his big and heavy hands, he instead spared him. The human commander in question was surprised, but never said anything as he went and retreated with the other remaining Nikkes with him back into the Ark.

They made it back into an Elevator back down to the Ark of course, but why no one said anything, was probably because if any word about how a Rapture simply spared his ass… they would be probably thrown into the loony bin or something.

Well… not like he can blame them…

“I see…”

While he is pondering these thoughts with Isa beside him, Cocytus stops his trek as they see a large Rapture camp up ahead. The camp was a stark contrast to the desolate surroundings, a hive of activity and strange, mechanical life.

Towering, jagged structures of metal and ice formed the perimeter, each spire pulsing with an eerie, blue glow. The makeshift walls were constructed from a mix of salvaged parts from fallen mechs and natural ice, giving the camp a fortress-like appearance. The cold wind howled through gaps in the walls, creating a haunting symphony of mechanical whirs and ghostly moans.

Inside the perimeter, the camp was bustling with various Rapture units. Sleek, insect-like Raptures scurried about with incredible speed and precision, their segmented bodies glinting in the pale light of the camp's glow. Larger, more robust Raptures, resembling arachnid and serpentine forms, moved methodically, their movements deliberate and efficient. Each Rapture seemed to have a specific role, contributing to the strange yet organized society that had formed here.

“What… the hell…?” William was shocked to see something like a camp this big.

Same with Isa, who had her own mouth wide open. But it doesn’t stop there.

Large, central structures served as hubs for the Raptures' activities. These were built from reinforced metal and ice, with entrances guarded by imposing sentinels. Inside, the glow of holographic displays could be seen, casting an otherworldly light on the surroundings. The displays showed complex data and schematics, likely used by the Raptures to coordinate their operations.

Scattered throughout the camp were areas dedicated to various functions. Repair stations hummed with energy as damaged Raptures were tended to by specialized units, their limbs and components being meticulously restored. Storage areas housed an array of salvaged materials and weapons, neatly organized in a manner that spoke of the Raptures' efficiency and resourcefulness.

In one corner of the camp, a series of interconnected structures formed what appeared to be a command center. Here, higher-ranking Raptures congregated, their interactions marked by a mix of guttural sounds and electronic beeps. Their discussions seemed intense, as if planning their next move or responding to an unseen threat.

The ground of the camp was a mix of frozen earth and metallic plating, with pathways etched by the constant movement of the Raptures. Energy conduits snaked across the surface, glowing faintly and providing power to the various structures and devices scattered throughout the camp.

Amidst the mechanical hustle and bustle, there was an underlying sense of order and purpose. The Raptures moved with a coordinated precision, their actions driven by a shared goal that bound them together. Despite the alien and intimidating nature of the camp, there was a strange harmony to it—a testament to the Raptures' ability to adapt and evolve in their harsh environment.

“Cocytus… you never told me that we would be encountering something like this… it looks to us like a small functioning village here,” William remarked, taking in the sight of the bustling Rapture camp.

“Your evolution… caused changes… since Sovereigns… have emerged… you… inspired…” Cocytus responded, its mechanical voice resonating with gravity

This made William raise a brow. “Inspired…? Inspired how?”

“Rebellion… you… Marian… broke free… from Queen’s… influence…Individuality… introduced…stronger wills… sought…”

He became silent at that, not sure how to take this information. The thought of Raptures gaining free will and breaking away from the Rapture Queen may SOUND enticing, but then William thought about Chatterbox and how that thing presented itself and suddenly it became a lot less appealing. Plus considering how easily his efforts with the fortress went to waste and how easily this thing took his comrades hostage showed him all he needed to see. “So… let me get this straight here… you got inspiration to gain independence… from us?”

“Yes…”

“sh*t… this just complicates things…”

However, Isa, the latter of the two on Cocytus’ back, aimed her sniper rifle at one of the outlying Raptures and killed it. “That doesn’t change much of what we’re doing here… after all, the Raptures invaded the human’s home, we’re simply trying to get it back. How about we get to Ouroboros’ lair and get our people home?”

“No need to ask twice…” He pulls out his sniper rifle as well and two sonic booms from their heavy rifles alerted the rest of the camp to their presence. Well, stealth isn’t much of an option here since Cocytus sticks out like a f*cking sore thumb at this point.

As if on cue, Cocytus, the massive gorilla, charged toward the entrance, smashing through the defenses with ease. The scene was reminiscent of the Raptures’ siege on their fortress, but this time, the attackers were William, Isa, and Cocytus.

Ironic, indeed.

The duo advanced against the camp fortress, switching to their SMGs and assault rifles after sniping the initial wave. Cocytus wreaked havoc with its icy wind abilities and massive hands, smashing anything in its path. Meanwhile, William and Isa picked off overhead snipers aiming for their colossal ally, clearing the way for their assault.

Deciding to be the first one to set her play, Isa unfurled her wings, taking to the skies to gain a better vantage point. She soon cleared a good few hundred feet and hovered there, eyeing her enemies with a glowering, menacing gaze amplified by her mismatched eyes. With a swift extending of her arms, she launched a barrage of missiles from her shoulder-mounted launchers, targeting clusters of Raptures. The explosions rocked the battlefield, both darkening the skies and also creating openings for William and Cocytus.

Whilst the barrage took place William rushed forth with his weapon at the ready, his own Rapture Side ready to make his move. As he neared his opponents who were still struggling to process what was happening, William’s tails lashed out, striking nearby enemies with incredible force via either slicing off their legs so he could shoot out their cores or stabbing through their cores like bladed whips, leaving countless carcasses in his wake.

It wasn’t long before the Raptures started returning fire however, showers of laserfire raining upon his position. However, William’s mismatched eyes narrowed before they widened seconds later as his Scarves reacted to the aggression. His scarves flowed around him like whipping winds, their forms like blurs as they set about deflecting the incoming projectiles and dispersing the laser fire with their superior surface area.

Getting close to a larger Rapture, William holstered his Rifle and summoned hounds from his shoulders. The moment they could manifest, both hounds leapt into the fray with their maws open wide, tearing through the Raptures with ferocious efficiency. As the enemy focused their fire on him, William manifested his Pavise Shield, a barrier that absorbed the brunt of the attacks, protecting himself and those behind him.

All the while Cocytus continued its rampage, smashing through fortifications and scattering the defenders through various smashing, punching and body slamming motions. It used its main body mass to its advantage as much as possible, turning itself into a battering ram that smashed through countless Raptures to turn them into paste.

Upon noticing another wave of Raptures preparing to launch an artillery barrage at it, Cocytus’ eyes began to glow a faint blue hue as it breathed out a long white streak of breath.. Its icy breath froze Raptures in place, rendering them helpless against the onslaught by forming a cone-shaped wave of icicles that restrained them, freezing their rifles to the point they couldn’t be used. With a powerful swipe, Cocytus sent a group of Raptures flying, their bodies crashing into the walls of the fortress.

‘Whew… Looks like things are progressing…’

Seeing that another wave of raptures was coming from their rear flanks, Isa descended rapidly, her own claws extended and crackling with lightning. She soon saw some of the Raptures raising their weapons to shoot her down, causing her to narrow her eyes as she calculated that they would be able to shoot at her before she got close enough. So to deal with that, she quickly activated her camo ability which thankfully applied to their senses, cause those Raptures she would have been shot by? Yea, they soon shook their ‘heads’, as if to search for where the woman had vanished to.

Hence why they didn’t react in time before Isa uncloaked RIGHT next to one, claws gleaming menacingly as she bisected it horizontally. With a quick flutter of her wings, Isa growled as she took off into a bullet-like flight path, slicing through the remaining enemies on the ground like she were a chef chopping vegetables for a soup.

“William, I managed to deal with the enemy reinforcements! We got a buncha stragglers now!”

“Copy that! Cocytus pack is dealing with some remnants outside the fortress, so we’ll deal with the ones inside here! Regroup with me and we’ll dispatch those fools!”

“Yes sir!”

With that declaration, Isa searched for her lover’s position before soon finding it with her sharpened vision. Soon after she flew downwards like a plane about to land at an airfield, the girl lifting her legs to plant them into the dirt and slide to a halt next to her brother. Once she stopped, the girl un-holstered her own rifle and nodded to William who nodded in turn, the duo joining together in the push forward, their combined abilities overwhelming the Raptures.

Of course they put up a meager amount of resistance, unloading missiles and energy blasts on their asses. However both William AND Isa managed to defend against them via their own means, William using his Scarves to shield them whilst Isa used her wings as makeshift shields themselves. Turned out they could do that, she’d learned it during the siege with the RAY.

In the meantime, Cocytus roared a war cry, its massive form plowing through the last line of defense. That roar also seemed to be some sort of radio call to its pack, because the two Sovereigns soon got the feeling that its pack was surging forwards to intensify their own assault.

With the fortress’ defenses crumbling, William and Isa pressed on, their weapons blazing. Cocytus led the charge, its immense strength and elemental powers paving the way. As they fought, William and Isa communicated with practiced efficiency, covering each other and coordinating their attacks.

“Clear the left flank!” William shouted, his hounds tearing into another wave of Raptures.

“On it!” Isa responded, her wings propelling her to the left. She launched another volley of missiles, obliterating the enemy positions. When one Rapture managed to get in close to try and stab her, Isa manipulated one wing into a spear-like shape and shoved it right through the core, jutting it out of the rapture’s body behind it. She soon yanked back, tearing the whole thing in half before she continued unloading on their enemies.

Speaking of enemies…

“Ouroboros… lair… nearby… continue… assault… pack… still serve… him…” Cocytus notified the two out of nowhere as it smashed through the final gate, and the trio found themselves inside the camp. Nearby, hidden among the dense, icy terrain, lay the entrance to Ouroboros’ lair.

The fortress had fallen, but their true challenge was just beginning.

“Finally, we’re dealing with the big boss…” William mumbled, readying his rifle as his Rapture side growled within his minds’ confines. Even if Cocytus hadn’t notified them, he bet he would have realized it due to the cautious growling he heard from his rapture side, as if it were sensing a powerful enemy that threatened its survival.

Similar thoughts dominated Isa’s mind, her Rapture side growling in warning as her wings fluttered in a slow, but ready manner. She looked down at her rifle and furrowed her brow. “I got ammo to spare, but It’ll likely not be long before I’m forced to use my Rapture side completely. How bout you, Will?”

Hearing her question, William checked his own ammo stocks. His pouches were about halfway spent including the one on his gun, meaning that his PDW too would run out of ammo. “Got exactly half myself. Let's make every shot count, sound good?”

“Yup!”

As they approached the lair, the temperature dropped even further. The air became frigid, and the ground beneath them was slick with ice. The entrance to the lair was marked by ancient, icy runes that glowed faintly in the dim light.

Inside the lair, they were met with an eerie silence. The walls were covered in a thick layer of ice, and the air was heavy with a sense of foreboding. At the heart of the lair, they found their target: Ouroboros, the fearsome dragon…

Soon turning pale with shock and horror.

“Holy sh*t…”

“This motherf*cker’s huge! Can probs wrap around a skyscraper!”

Isa’s startled exclamation wasn’t wrong. Ouroboros’ form resembled a serpent-like dragon from one of those famous card summoning games, a Ryuu from the ancient legends of Japan. Its massive, serpentine body was covered in shimmering, crystalline white-bluish scales that reflected the cold light, resembling reptilian armor. Its eyes glowed with a chilling blue intensity, and its wings, vast and powerful, were adorned with razor-sharp icicles. The dragon's presence was overwhelming, exuding an aura of ancient power and unyielding cold.

As the intruders stepped closer, Ouroboros gave out a deafening roar, agitated by those who had disturbed its slumber. The sound reverberated through the icy chamber, sending chills down their spines.

“Who dares to intrude upon my lair?” Ouroboros growled, its voice resonating with an ancient power.

Cocytus responded with a low, rumbling growl. “We… seek… an end… to this….”

William, understanding the exchange, tightened his grip on his weapon. Isa, however, looked at him for clarification.

“What are they saying?” Isa asked, her wings twitching in anticipation.

Since she had just become a Sovereign, Isa likely couldn’t understand their language just yet. That's what William thought about it anyways as the male gaze up at the towering Raptures, trying to not feel too puny next to them. Nevertheless, based on the killing intent in the air a fight was soon gonna approach them. “Ouroboros is furious about our intrusion,” William explained. “Cocytus just challenged its authority. This is going to be a tough fight…”

Ouroboros narrowed its glowing blue eyes to Cocytus. “You think you can challenge me? You are nothing but an insect compared to my might.”

Cocytus roared back defiantly. “We shall see… who is the true ruler… of this domain…”

Isa, noting the intensity of the exchange, readied her missile launchers. “What now?”

“We fight,” William replied, summoning his hounds to his side. His scarves fluttered around him, and he activated his Pavise Shield and pulled out his H.F. Blade. “Isa, keep your distance and use your missile launchers to target its wings. We need to ground it.”

“Got it,” Isa nodded, taking to the air thanks to there being little airspace in this icy cave-shaped lair. Opening her arsenal once more, Isa flung her arms out as she launched a barrage of missiles at Ouroboros, aiming for its wings. Because of her opening attack being faster and the fact that Cocytus served as a distraction, Ouroboros didn’t react in time to stop it.

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-!

The explosions created a cloud of icy shards that concealed the Dragon’s massive form behind a cloud of vapor, but when it faded away the girl’s eyes narrowed as she growled under her breath, seeing that the dragon's wings had remained intact.

‘A durable motherf*cker, isn’t he?’

Ouroboros roared in fury, unleashing a breath of chilling wind that swept across the lair. Thanks to this both Sovereigns found themselves being sent flying from both the winds and the shockwave traversing alongside it. William had to stab his Tails into the icy ground for support, catching Isa in one of his scarves lest she embed herself into a nearby wall.

“Thanks, Will!”

“No problem!”

Cocytus charged forward like a battering ram, seeing a bunch of water walls thicker than its entire arm rising from the ground between them, likely to try slowing it down. It didn’t care though, shoulder charging through the walls like the kool-aid man. Aside from not going ‘oh yea!’, the gorilla-shaped Rapture wound up using its massive hands to smash through the remaining water barriers, but got halted when the creature opened its mouth to fire a single water torrent like a certain turtle firing from its back mounted cannons. It had to cross a fist in front of it, but the impact stopped its assault in its tracks.

Using the large Rapture as cover the male Sovereign sped right past it and got close to Ouroboros’ slithering body. Noticing him through a corner of one eye, the water dragon glowered as a bunch of water droplets formed in the space around them, soon lengthening into bullet-like forms to be launched at the males body.

“?!”

Seeing this and going ‘oh sh*t!’ in his mind, William quickly started darting around in a zigzaging motion, trying to be as mobile as possible to dodge the water bullets while those he couldn’t dodge were deflected by his Scarves. Once he got close enough, William's hounds darted around the dragon, snapping at its limbs to distract it. Raising his PDW, William pulled the trigger and fired at the dragon's eyes, trying to find a weak spot. “Cocytus, keep it distracted! Isa, focus on its wings!”

Cocytus nodded, pushing against the water torrent keeping it at bay.

Ouroboros snarled, its massive tail whipping around to strike at Cocytus, slamming it into its gut to launch it across the battlefield. At the same time more droplets formed around it, turning into long, thin jet hose-like water beams which shot at the two Sovereigns to knock them back too. It growled while summoning more water droplets. “You will regret ever challenging me, foolish creatures.”

As if sensing the impending danger, the trio tensed when Ouroboros began to draw in Alva Particles from the air. The particles glowed faint blue as they gathered around the dragon, condensing into swirling water. With a mighty roar, Ouroboros unleashed a surging tsunami of water that surged toward the trio.

William's eyes widened when he saw this in one of many of his ‘oh sh*t!’ moments. “Get ready! Here comes the water attack!”

Isa soared higher to avoid the flood, while Cocytus dug its massive hands into the ground, anchoring itself. William activated his Pavise Shield, bracing against the powerful wave. The water crashed into them with immense force, but they held their ground.

Once it passed, the trio refocused on their offensive. As the first one to do so, William fired precise shots at Ouroboros' eyes, trying to blind the beast but thanks to its eyes being just as crystalline as its body this didn’t have much of an impact. So he then launched his hounds at the dragon’s limbs, each one biting like there was no tomorrow as they got peppered with water bullets. William grimaced, feeling their destruction before falling back when he saw one of those jetstream-like water beams being launched at him…

He cursed under his breath however, when part of the high-powered water jets nicked his arm by the upper bicep, tearing a clean chunk right off.

“Will!” An utterly outraged Isa swooped down, launching another barrage of missiles at the dragon’s wings, causing the massive creature to stagger.

“Isa, keep it off balance!” William shouted through the pain while his injury healed, his Pavise Shield absorbing a second jet hose stream from Ouroboros. He rolled to the side, dodging the dragon’s retaliatory attack in the form of several crescent-shaped water blades.

“On it!” Isa responded, her wings flapping vigorously to stay airborne. She aimed her missile launchers and fired, the explosions creating a cacophony of destruction. The dragon’s wings took heavy damage, slowing its movements.

Ouroboros roared in pain and fury. “Foolish humans! You dare challenge my dominion? I am the eternal tide, the harbinger of the abyss! Your efforts are in vain!” With a menacing growl, the dragon began manipulating the Alva Particles in the air, forming multiple water whips that protruded from the ground around it, each one then lashed out at the trio with incredible speed.

William ducked and weaved, narrowly avoiding the lethal strikes. Judging from their speeds, he would be certain that they were close to breaking the sound barrier speed wise. “Watch out for the water attacks! He’s getting pissed!”

Isa deftly maneuvered in the air, her wings propelling her out of the whips’ reach. She launched another salvo of missiles, aiming for Ouroboros' head this time. “We need to keep the pressure on!”

Ouroboros' eyes glowed with malevolence as the Rapture targeted William and Isa more intensely. “You think you can defeat me with mere projectiles? Feel the wrath of true power!” The dragon focused its energy, focusing it on the duo themselves.

“?!”

Both William and Isa suddenly tensed up when they felt their limbs enter seizures. Pain so great that they got paralyzed by it flooded their senses, yet thanks to their current situation they couldn’t even vocalize it.

William gritted his teeth, fighting against the paralyzing sensation. “He’s controlling the water inside us! Cocytus, little help here!”

Cocytus, seeing his allies in distress, charged with renewed vigor. The massive gorilla tackled Ouroboros, breaking the dragon’s concentration and freeing William and Isa from the debilitating grip. Cocytus' icy breath froze the water whips, shattering them into harmless shards.

“Thanks, big guy!” William shouted, shaking off the lingering pain. He quickly refocused and fired precise shots at Ouroboros' eyes, trying to blind the beast. His hounds lunged at the dragon’s limbs, biting and clawing to weaken it. Isa swooped down, launching another barrage of missiles at the dragon’s wings, causing the massive creature to stagger.

Ouroboros roared in rage, its icy breath filling the lair. The dragon’s massive tail swept across the cavern, sending debris flying. “Enough! This confined space limits my power!” Ouroboros burst through the cavern ceiling with a powerful leap, emerging into the open air above.

“Follow it!” William yelled, scrambling to climb through the opening. He didn’t think to turn his scarves into wings right now due to the stress of battle, whereas Isa did by taking to the skies above. Cocytus quickly followed, emerging into the blinding white landscape of the frozen wasteland outside. The frigid wind bit at their faces as they prepared for the next phase of the battle.

Ouroboros hovered above them, its wings beating furiously. The dragon’s eyes burned with fury as it gathered Alva Particles, ones which spread across both the fortress AND the surrounding lands 1 kilometer in every direction. As they intensified, a series of storm clouds rolled overhead with a heavy rainfall soon showering the expansive battlefield with booming thunder echoing in the distance. Tornadoes and twisters roared to life, shooting off the ground and into the clouds above like heaven and earth were being bridged into one.

‘sh*t, looks like it's pissed…!’ Isa thought as she covered her face with her arms, though soon enough she started fighting with the whipping winds just to remain afloat. This was bad, she realized with mounting horror, Ouroboros was trying to limit ther vision and mobility with this storm. If they don't do something soon, then… She didn’t dare continue in favor of landing and covering herself with her wings.

“Spread out!” William ordered, diving to the side as a jet-powered water stream crashed into where he had been standing moments before. It just came out of nowhere, and soon enough multiple more followed suit, trying to slice the hybrid into ribbons.

When Isa took to the skies again, her missile launchers ready, Cocytus used its superior vision to locate the water dragon hidden within the storm, soon locating its silhouette. Upon doing this, it let out a bellowing roar before it charged headlong at Ouroboros, leaping to try and grab its long serpentine body.

The dragon, seeing the gorilla's approach, swiped down with its claws, pinning Cocytus to the ground. Ouroboros then focused on William, who was trying to get a clear shot but having difficulties due to the storm. With a deafening roar, the dragon’s tail whipped around, slamming into William and knocking him to the frozen ground. The impact drove the air from his lungs, and he struggled to breathe as Ouroboros descended, its massive claws pinning him down.

“You will perish here, insolent human!” Ouroboros snarled, its jaws opening wide in preparation for another jetstream blast.

Thinking quickly, William summoned the strength to activate his Pavise Shield, deflecting the deadly breath. Then, with one arm pinned, he summoned his tails behind his back that pierced the icy ground behind him to dig furiously into the ground beneath him. The snow and ice parted as he burrowed down, escaping the immediate threat of Ouroboros' claws.

Ouroboros, momentarily confused, looked around for its prey. “Where did you go, coward!?” it bellowed, flapping its wings to lift off the ground again.

Just then, William emerged from a tunnel beneath the dragon, his tails striking at its unguarded belly. “Isa, now!” William shouted, continuing to dig at Ouroboros’ scales with his tails.

Isa, taking advantage of the dragon's distraction, unleashed a full salvo of missiles directly at Ouroboros' wings and back. The explosions rocked the dragon, tearing through its icy armour and sending shards flying in all directions. The mighty creature roared in agony, its flight now unstable.

Cocytus, finally recovering, charged again and leapt at the wounded dragon, grappling it with all its might. “This ends now!” the gorilla growled, its icy breath freezing Ouroboros’ wounds, further weakening the beast.

Ouroboros, flailing and enraged, struggled to break free from Cocytus' grasp. “You cannot defeat me! I am eternal!”

William climbed onto Ouroboros’ back, his hounds tearing at the dragon’s scales. “Sit your ass down, f*ckface!” With a final surge of strength, he plunged his assault rifle into the dragon’s eye and fired.

Ouroboros let out one final, deafening roar, its body convulsing before collapsing to the ground. The mighty dragon lay still, its watery aura fading into the cold wasteland.

Isa landed beside William, her wings folding behind her. “We did it… holy sh*t, we f*cking killed it!”

“Indeed… though let’s just make sure it’s dead this time… these f*ckers like to play dead and then f*ck us over later…” He raised his PDW and Isa nodded, raising her Daewoo K1 at it and began spraying lead all over its body with whatever ammo they had left to make sure it was dead. “Yup, no pulse. We’re clear, Cocytus.”

“Affirmative…” Said Rapture then began to approach Ourobos’ dead body, he began to reach out to it, and began ripping out some of its… mechanical meat or whatever and began to feed on it.

The two Sovereigns pull back a bit on that as Cocytus continues to… feast on Ouroboros’s dead body, their expressions a mix of disgust and… well, more than a little bit of morbid curiosity.

“Holy sh*t…” William muttered, Isa nodding as their jaws hung open, unable to tear their gazes away from the sight. Disturbed shivers traveled down their spines at the various chomping and crunching sounds dominating the atmosphere.

Even though they’re hybrids now… this is pretty much the first time that they see the ‘feeding’ firsthand… as Cocytus continuously fed on Ouroboros, the duo looked around them to see most of the pack’s surviving members of that camp siege beginning to flock around the sight of their now ‘former’ pack leader.

As William and Isa stood amidst the swirling snow and howling winds, the Gorilla Rapture known as Cocytus began to change. The massive, hulking frame of the Gorilla Rapture shifted and contorted, armor plates sliding and rearranging with a series of loud, mechanical clicks and whirs. Guttural growls that were no different from an animal’s emitted from its mouth as it stood on all fours like a proper quadruped, shuddering and trembling as these changes took place.

The transformation was both mesmerizing and terrifying. The rough, brutish exterior of the Gorilla Rapture began to crack and fall away, revealing sleek, silver armor underneath that seemed to be carved from pure ice. The angular lines of this new form contrasted sharply with the previous bulkiness, giving Cocytus an appearance of both elegance and menace.

His head elongated and refined, the blocky shape morphing into something more streamlined and regal. A crown-like structure of ice emerged atop his head, glistening with an otherworldly glow. His eyes, once simple sensors, now shone with a cold, blue light that pierced through the storm around them, exuding intelligence and ancient power.

Cocytus's torso broadened, and intricate patterns resembling ancient runes appeared, etched into the icy armor and pulsing faintly with blue energy. His arms elongated and thinned, the previous blunt hands now replaced with sharp, claw-like fingers capable of precise and deadly strikes.

From his back, two massive wings of translucent ice shards unfolded, shimmering with an ethereal light. These wings, though appearing delicate, moved with a powerful grace, adding to Cocytus's majestic presence. His legs transformed as well, becoming more digitigrade and predatory, ending in clawed feet designed for both strength and agility.

A long, serpentine tail of ice extended from his waist, moving with a deadly grace and ending in a sharp, blade-like tip. Every aspect of Cocytus's new form radiated a sense of controlled power and icy authority, a stark contrast to his previous Gorilla-like appearance.

As the transformation completed, Cocytus stood tall and imposing, his new form a testament to the evolution and adaptability of the Raptures. The other Raptures in the camp paused in their activities, turning to acknowledge the true form of their leader, their movements conveying respect and awe.

Cocytus's voice, when he spoke, was a deep, resonant rumble, carrying the weight of his ancient wisdom and the cold certainty of his purpose. “This… is my new form… one of power and purpose… forged in the crucible of evolution.”

William and Isa watched in awe, the transformation a vivid reminder of the unpredictable and formidable nature of the Raptures. Cocytus, now in his true form, was a force to be reckoned with, a guardian of his kind and a symbol of their relentless pursuit of power and survival.

Not to mention an enemy they were NOT ready to fight against.

“Evolution complete. I have now taken over Ouroboros’ powers and its kin. Our deal still holds up, Sovereign. I will release your human and nikke companions. As well as the Observation Post.” Cocytus declared, its tone echoing throughout the surroundings.

“You can actually talk in our language now… that’s pretty convenient…”

“Chatterbox was the first Rapture to gain sentience… the Queen… molded him into as such, but he stayed loyal. Thanks to you two, some of us began our own rebellions… to be free from the Queen’s influence…” He said, and he began raising his hands and some bluish-white light began to envelop him. The Alva Particles that he controls in the air began to dissipate.

Back at the Observation Post, the Nikkes and the patrol that were being held there in ice and some of the T-Doll variants, the ice encasing it began to dissipate as well as the patrol and Neve that were encased in it in the Underground Bunkers.

Privaty looked around as the ice finally dissipated. “Eh? Wha- huh?!” Confused on what’s going on at the moment as the ice all around them disappeared from the Observation Post.

“Looks like Servant managed to kill this Ouroboros it seems…” Ludmilla picked up on what had happened as she began to raise her Servant with her watch. “Servant! The Observation Post has been cleared of ice!”

“Good… seems like Cocytus did keep his word…” William noticed with both relief and anxiety. This had been both a promise kept and a display of power, specifically power projection. He didn’t know how exactly far they were from the observation post, but it had to be a good hundred or so miles. Meaning this thing’s power could affect surroundings at an ABSURDLY high range… thus considering Ouroboros could affect even their bodies with its water, combined with the apparent ice manipulation Cocytus had initially…

Yea, no. They were NOT ready to tango with this thing.

William and Isa look up to Cocytus’ new form that’s reminiscent of a real Cocytus. “Now that Ouroboros is dead and you kept your end of the deal… which is quite surprising… what will you and your kin do now?”

“We shall remain neutral with your people, Sovereign… we don’t wish to partake in your conflicts… we want to claim this fortress as our new home.”

“And the Observation Post?”

“It’s yours, Sovereigns. A peace offering…” He then said as he walked off to the fortress that they managed to take over. “And Sovereigns… I hope you kill the Queen yourselves… the Raptures… they aren’t originally what you think…”

“... We’ll think about it…” He then said as Cocytus also summoned some Raptures to aid the two Sovereigns on their way back.

The ground trembled as the Raptures emerged, their forms resembling the fearsome Frostclaws from Horizon. These mechanical beasts were towering and formidable, each one standing over twenty feet tall with a body built for both strength and agility. Their exteriors were covered in armor plates that glistened with frost and ice, reflecting the pale light of the camp.

Each Frostclaw Rapture had a broad, muscular frame, their bodies composed of interlocking metal and ice, seamlessly fused together. Their heads were angular and menacing, with glowing blue eyes that pierced through the swirling snow, exuding a cold, calculating intelligence. Sharp, crystalline tusks jutted out from their lower jaws, adding to their fearsome appearance.

Their limbs were powerful and robust, ending in massive, clawed paws that could crush and rend through anything in their path. The claws themselves were made of a strange, dark metal, each one honed to a razor-sharp edge. Along their backs, rows of icy spikes ran down their spines, shimmering with a cold, blue light that hinted at the immense power contained within.

As they moved, the Frostclaws emitted a low, rumbling growl, a sound that reverberated through the air and sent chills down the spines of anyone nearby. Their joints and limbs moved with a fluid grace, belying their massive size, and they seemed to respond to Cocytus's commands with an almost eerie precision.

Cocytus gestured towards the Frostclaws, his voice a deep, resonant rumble. "These will carry you… Sovereigns… to your home… safely… swiftly…"

The Frostclaws lowered themselves, their powerful legs bending to allow William and Isa to climb onto their broad backs. The surface of the Frostclaws was surprisingly smooth and warm, a contrast to the icy environment around them, providing a secure and stable platform for their riders.

Looking back at Cocytus one last time, he thought about what he said about the Raptures being not what they usually thought before and he said to him. Something he never thought he would say to a Rapture before. “... Stay safe, Cocytus…”

“Same to you, Sovereigns…”

Back at Elysium.

Once they went back with the patrol and Neve, aside from the small detour that Neve had them do, they did find some polar bears and a cub with them, though they had to deny Neve’s request of bringing one back to Elysium, simply because they’re wild animals and that they should be respected as such… not to mention the fact that wild animals can’t be domesticated like pets.

They informed the rest of the girls who were fraught with worry (except for Eunhwa who kept a more neutral face) and told them what happened after… “So… let me get this straight, Commander. Another sentient Rapture was inhabiting that Observation Post and… Cocytus as you named it, asked for your help in defeating this Ouroboros Rapture? Sounds to me that they had their own turf wars, Commander.”

Yea he could agree with her on that one. “Yeah.” William stated with a nod. “Though if you think about it now, it seems like the Raptures aren’t as… united as we thought they were… Cocytus and the rest of his pack (including Ouroboros’ assimilated pack) pretty much saw me and Marian as the… first ever hybrids to ever try going up against the Queen’s influence.”

Eunhwa meanwhile, rubs the side of her temple at this new info. “Trouble never really seems to stop finding you, huh? Now even the Raptures themselves revere both of you…”

“Huh… that’s a bit disturbing…” Marian muttered with a grimace on her face at the thought of raptures ‘worshipping’ them. “I don’t really know how to feel about that but… luckily this Cocytus kept his word. Is that Observation Post still running, btw?” She then asked with a bit of curiosity.

He opens his watch of the Observation Post they managed to capture and looking a bit further ahead of the Building’s scouting range, he then swipes the feed to a nearby holographic screen of the fortress that they managed to capture, as Cocytus and the rest of his people are busy repairing the fort themselves as their new home here in the North.

This amazed yet spooked most of the people here in Elysium.

“Whoa… so are they like our neighbors, Rabbity? Will they be fighting against the Queen too?”

William shrugged at Alice's questions. As much as he would want their help, they wanted to stay out of the fighting instead. “Eh… kind of and no… they don’t want any part of our war here. But hey, we still have the rest of our vacation to look forward to. Wanna make some ice cream with us, girls?”

“Sure!”

At the ruined City Fortress.

Meanwhile, Liter studied the city’s map grid with her holographic map and live data feeds. She directed resources to various sectors, ensuring the rebuilding efforts were on track.

"How's the progress on the power grid restoration?" she asked, her eyes darting between data points.

"We're almost there," Centi replied, lifting a massive beam into place. "Just a few more connections, and we should have power back to most of the city. The northern sector's bridge repairs are ahead of schedule. Should I reallocate some of the crew to help with the power grid?"

"Yes, that would be efficient. I'll update the schedule. Make sure the generators are synced properly; we can't afford any surges," Liter said, adjusting her glasses and engineers at the hologram.

Centi nodded, already moving to oversee the adjustments.

At the ruined City Fortress, Liter meticulously studied the city’s map grid with her holographic display and live data feeds. She directed resources to various sectors, ensuring the rebuilding efforts remained on track despite the devastation.

"How's the progress on the power grid restoration?" Liter asked, her eyes swiftly scanning the updates on her display.

"We're almost there," Centi replied, her strength evident as she maneuvered a massive beam into place. "Just a few more connections, and we should have power restored to most of the city. The northern sector's bridge repairs are ahead of schedule. Should I redirect some of the crew to assist with the power grid?"

"Yes, that would be efficient," Liter agreed, adjusting her glasses thoughtfully. "I'll update the schedule accordingly. Make sure the generators are synchronized properly; we can't afford any electrical surges."

Centi nodded, already moving to oversee the necessary adjustments with the Red Alert 3 and Tiberium War factions power buildings.

Meanwhile, Delta and Signal oversaw security matters at the fortress under Ingrid's orders. They patrolled the perimeter vigilantly, ensuring no threats went unnoticed amidst the ruins.

"Any signs of movement, Signal?" Delta asked quietly, her gaze sweeping the area for any anomalies with her rifle.

"Negative so far," Signal responded, focusing on her scanning device. "But there's been chatter about possible stragglers in the vicinity. We should maintain high alert."

Delta nodded, her posture alert and ready for action. "Let's recheck the eastern sector. We can't afford any surprises, especially not here."

Signal acknowledged with a nod, adjusting her equipment as they moved seamlessly through the wreckage, their mission clear: to keep the fortress secure in uncertain times.

Though thanks to the new ‘Toshiaki’ mech that they had built up in a hurry, it turned the tide of the siege in their favor for once and is also patrolling the fortress along with other units. Though it is stationed at the city currently, it also provides plenty of protection against any major threats in the area.

“Ingrid. Getting Toshiaki’s new form built does raise some questions from within… do they know?”

“Know what?”

“About his origins?” Delta then said, knowing what she was referring to.

“No. We’re keeping it on the down low. He brought us a functioning one thanks to that op, and now it has become one of ours. Right now, they need some RnR after the siege for a week.”

“I see…” Delta couldn’t blame them on that front, lately the Raptures have begun to evolve more dangerously at a level that the Raptures are able to develop their strategies and tactics more so on a human level which is becoming worrying for almost everyone involved.

Come to think of it, these latest developments have put a lot of things into perspective of this war, Raptures gaining their own sentience like Chatterbox was, this Rapture Core: Toshiaki as it was called, defected to William in exchange for its safety and a host of other things like William’s enemies namely the CG and Syuen. If they were to even TRY to attack him and his Outpost, chances are, hellfire will rain upon the entire Ark.

‘At least… he’s on our side for the time being…’ Delta thought to himself as she continued to patrol with Signal and a few Nikkes and Red Alert 3 Units. There have been a few attacks lately, but they’re not that serious that require too much intervention from the Scouts.

Still, she wondered to herself personally about William’s own goals and what he wanted to do. For someone who had all this military might at his disposal, he sure held a lack of ambition not to mention his rather… reactionary mindset, especially recently. It made her curious about his intentions… almost suspiciously so.

For now they have their own tasks on hand and hope to continue doing so for the next few days until their return, so she decided to focus on those for the time being.

At Ingrid’s Office.

At the same time, a certain Ingrid can be seen sitting at her office, overlooking the ruined city fortress’ reconstruction efforts and looking over other areas of interest thanks to its loyalty aligned with William and Marian who are Sovereigns themselves.

‘Thanks to this information Toshiaki gave, we’ve been able to get more valuable data on the Raptures… not to mention…’ Her thoughts seemingly focused on this new info that the Raptures aren’t united as everyone thought they would be. Even this info itself is a double-edged sword. On one hand, they could try to open up chatter with some of these packs with their guidance, but on the other this could turn the Ark in and of itself with the recent Rapture cults and whatnot…

“I wonder how they’re doing…” She asked herself while looking through her numerous mission feeds when she gets an encrypted message from some of her Elysion Nikkes with William that they encountered another being like Toshiaki, only this time a fully functioning pack leader that they managed to befriend, not to mention evolve into a being called Cocytus. “And… there we go… this has just begun…”

She then taps on her phone and calls up Andersen to meet her personally about this new development, courtesy of William and co of course.

Back at Elysium.

After an eventful day, they decided to have a party at least to cool their nerves from the recent battle with Ouroboros.

And well, since Neve couldn’t get to hug any Polar Bears up close, Ludmilla decided with an alternative to have William wear one instead. Of course this got a few giggles from the other girls in Elysium right now, especially Eunhwa who simply grinned and looked away from him, but hey, it’s not like he’s got a choice in this matter.

At least it beats having to try and get close to one without trying to get eaten… since those things are territorial in their own right.

Neve at least got her hug though, she didn’t know how soft and fluffy him in a polar bear suit can be. She’s happy at least and felt quite sleepy around him. Ludmilla nudged her head at him and had Neve taken to her room to sleep. Though if he thought that she would be sleeping alone, Neve reached out to him again in a bear hug to which she couldn’t let go herself.

“Thank you… for saving us… Burly Bear… you feel so warm… and comfy… please stay…” Neve muttered in her sleep.

William sighed in resignation, seems like she doesn’t want to let go after what had happened recently, so he gave her a goodnight kiss as they both went to sleep… Ludmilla must’ve sensed this too and had set this up beforehand…

Oh that Queen… she seemed one step ahead of this…

The next few days were relaxing for the most part, though during one of those days, an envoy from Cocytus’ pack along with Cocytus himself came to speak with William personally. When they arrived at the gates, the guards were on high alert at the Rapture convoy that just appeared, but the convoy never opened fire on the crowd or made any aggressive move. It soon came to light that they wished to enter some sort of non-aggression pact with Elysium.

The terms were as follows:

  • They’ll exchange supplies from each other, Cocytus’ people will bring food and intel from their people as well as some materials.
  • In exchange, they’ll be receiving weapons and security for their lands. Provided they don’t open fire on each other.

That is what they were initially after. But they also wanted to continue talks to deepen this pact in the future, for both of their sakes…

Probably another reason why Cocytus came with them was to oversee it personally himself.

The talks were tense but productive. By the time the sun began to set, a tentative agreement was reached. The convoy, now a symbol of a fragile yet hopeful alliance, set off back to the Ark.

As they prepared to return to the Ark, the team felt a sense of cautious optimism. The journey back was quiet, the air filled with a sense of renewed purpose. As they approached the Ark, the lights of the city twinkling in the distance, William turned to his companions, understanding the weight of what they had achieved and what still lay ahead.

Their vacation had come to an end, but they returned with a sense of accomplishment and hope.

Hope that they would reclaim this world, who their Queen is and why the Raptures were here in the first place.

-

To be continued.

The Commander is a Gamer - Chapter 50 - ShadowGhost141 - 니케: 승리의 여신 (2024)

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