Chapter 38: Elevator Ambush
Cosmo halted at the door leading to the elevator banks on the 69th floor and looked back towards the bloodsoaked staircase leading to the President’s Office. Cream, Bark and Green XIII stopped as well and returned to her. “What’s up, Cosmo?” the rabbit asked, her brows creased.
“Well… I just thought of something,” the flower girl said. She faced the fighter with her shoulders slumped and a frown crossing her lips. “I know Tails said to go… But… But what’ll happen to him? What if he’s hurt?”
Cream closed her eyes for a moment and digested Cosmo’s words. Opening them, she inclined her head to the flower girl. “You’re right,” she agreed calmly. “I’ll stay here and wait for Tails. You, Bark and Green XIII get to the elevator.” She then removed the Lightning and Sense Emeralds from their respective weapon and armor slots, placed them into Cosmo’s hand and then put her own on top, squeezing it lightly. “Things are gonna get pretty ugly, I can feel it on the tips of my ears,” she said softly, looking into her eyes with concern. “So, take these… Just in case.”
Cosmo smiled warmly at the gesture. “OK,” she said, pocketing the gems. “You be safe, Cream.”
“Alright then, let’s get goin’!” Bark grunted. He waved to Cream as he, Green XIII and Cosmo headed to the elevators. “You and twin-tail come join us as soon as you’re able to, OK?”
The three entered the elevator bay. The room was untouched by Nazo’s rampage and so the walls remained pristine and unmarred. Cosmo pressed the call button and the three stood in silence as they waited. A minute had passed and Cosmo had to fight the urge to press the call button again, her eyes glued to the indicator light overtop the elevator doors. She was eager to leave the scene filled with the dismembered bodies, horrifying biological experiments and the stench of blood behind. She could feel her skin crawling as she half expected something to come out and capture her again. Soon, panic started to flood her mind.
‘This… this is all too much… I… I need to get out… I need to get away! I NEED TO RUN AND HIDE-’
“Hey,” Bark’s gruff and deep voice snapped her to reality. She looked at him, startled. “You OK?” he asked, his brows creasing. “You’re… Uh, lookin’ a little frazzled there.”
It was at that moment that she realized she was hyperventilating. “Y-Yeah, I’m OK,” she replied, taking a few, slow deep breaths to calm herself. “Just… I’m just a little overwhelmed, that’s all.”
At that moment, the elevator car reached their floor. A chime sounded out and the indicator light above the leftmost elevator door flashed from red to blue. “Here’s our ride,” Green XIII said, her rough voice sounding like a pair of stones rubbing against one another. “Let’s get on and get outta here.”
The three entered the elevator and Cosmo pressed the button for the ground floor. The doors closed behind them and the car started to descend quickly. The flower girl looked out of the glass windows overlooking the city and let out a shaky breath that she was holding in. ‘Finally…’
Without warning, the elevator car abruptly slowed to a crawl, causing the three occupants to stumble. Bark righted himself and looked around. “What the hell’s going on now?!” he shouted, his eyes bulging out of their sockets.
Outside of the elevator, Cosmo could see two figures descend from above. They were a pair of identical robots, each with an egg-shaped body, a pair of spindly, multi-jointed legs and dome-shaped heads with yellow shades over glowing green eyes. Both machines had a shield-like plate between their legs and a pair of silver mufflers exuding yellowish-grey smoke around their pelvic areas. Attached to each of their backs and on the bottoms of their feet were a set of hoverjets which kept them aloft and in line with the elevator car.
The one on the left had a deep blue colouration that looked inky black against the dark sky. Its arms held two, six-shot revolver type grenade launchers with large silver muzzles. The right one was painted in a bright, burnished orange and was outfitted with two types of guns around an apparatus connected to each of its arms; a long Gatling Gun and a high-powered rifle. There was a grooved slot on the underside of its arms and looked as though something could fit into it. Both robots had white stripes down the middle of their bodies and round searchlights on the left sides of their chests. Painted on the right sides of their torsos were numbers and symbols: ‘103 – Δ’ on the blue robot and ‘104 – ε ’ on the orange one.
The one designated 104 hovered up close to the car, its green eyes flashed yellow for a moment and then backed away. The armaments around his arms rotated to the Gatling gun and it pointed them at the three Mobians inside. The guns started to rotate slowly, picking up speed every second. “INITIATING COMBAT MODE,” it said out loud for them all to hear. “CAPTURE THE ANCIENT. ANNIHILATE THE REST.”
Bark gaped at the guns, a look of understanding crossing his face. “HIT THE DIRT!” he hollered, forcing everyone to the floor. No sooner than having spoken these words did 104 fire the Gatlings at them, the bullets penetrating and shattering the glass around three Mobians. They covered their heads as shards rained down upon them.
Cosmo raised her head to look outside the elevator car. The air around them was warm; caused by the building’s exhaust fumes rising up around the egg-like shell that surrounded the building. The exhaust air vented out through a series of large louvres that circled around the facade at the very top, just underneath the 69th floor.
As the spinning Gatling heads from the orange robot’s arms slowed to a halt, its blue companion floated over to it. “EPSILON,” it said in the same deeply male, computerized monotone as its counterpart. “YOU ARE TOO RECKLESS. ORDERS ARE TO CAPTURE THE ANCIENT ALIVE. SWITCH TO NON-LETHAL ORDINANCES.”
Epsilon’s head swiveled to look at his companion. “ACKNOWLEDGED, DELTA,” it responded. “RECONFIGURING TO NON-LETHAL ORDINANCES.” Four clips, two on each arm, immediately ejected and fell sixty seven stories to the ground, some of which clanged on the beams that were connected to the building’s outer exoskeleton. New magazines extended on a rail from its back. With machine-like efficiency, Epsilon began reloading its weapons.
“Now! Strike now!” Bark yelled suddenly, startling Cosmo. He rose up and started firing at 104 as it replenished its weapons. Bark’s bullets sheared through several sections of the orange robot’s exoskeleton. Its companion, Delta, then flew in to intercept the shots, the bullets pinging off of the blue machine’s substantially plated armor.
Delta pointed its arms and fired several canister grenades into the car. Bark’s face drained of colour as eight cylinders flew in and bounced once before coming to a stop at the end of the car. The bear ceased fire and he, Cosmo and Green XIII froze in place, waiting for the ensuing explosion. There was a loud pop and gas instead expanded out of the cylinders, causing the occupants to erupt in a fit of coughs. “N-Not again!” Bark wheezed.
From the corner of her eye, Cosmo watched as Green XIII quickly crossed the large car, scooped up the grenades and started throwing them out. Subsequently, she started charging a spell while Delta was reloading. Once the last canister was jettisoned from the car, the golem stuck her hand out and called “FIRE!” Two chunks of fiery-red crystal shot out, honed in on the two robots and exploded, showering them both with napalm.
Cosmo’s coughing lessened as the updraft from the high elevation evacuated the gas within the car. Her fingers fumbled in her pocket as she retrieved the Sense Emerald Cream gave her, which she then swapped with her Poison Emerald. She felt a slight decrease in her mystical abilities and an equivalent gain in stamina as she shakily rose up and tapped the yellow gem to summon its power for her use. She felt time slow to a crawl as she examined E-103 Delta, the Command Emerald helping her to glean its secrets, its strengths and its weaknesses. “It’s weak against electricity!” she called out to the two men beside her, disengaging with the Emerald. “It has some sort of electrical shielding though, but if we concentrate multiple Lightning spells on it, we should be able to fry it!”
“Alright then,” Bark hollered, detaching the Lightning Emerald out of his weapon and tossing it over to Green XIII. “You two are on magic duty! I’ll cover for you!”
At the same time, E-104 Epsilon completed his ammunition switch. “ORDINANCES CHANGED,” it announced. “RE-INITIATING COMBAT MODE.” The weapon apparatuses on its arms spun around towards the rifle attachment and it started firing in short bursts at the Mobians. Beside him, Delta fired another round of canister grenades, this time creating a thick, black smokescreen that obscured the group’s vision.
“Get down!” Bark yelled to everyone as the blackened smoke billowed around them. From his prone position, he aimed and fired another salvo at what he guessed was Epsilon’s direction. “Try concentratin’ on the orange one first! That guy may have some serious firepower, but its armor’s like paper-EYOUCH!”
A round of bullets struck him hard on the thigh. Bark rolled onto his back and hissed loudly, rubbing the affected spots. “SHIT! That friggin’ hurt!” he hollered out, tears streaming from his eyes.
“Looks like they’re using rubber bullets,” Green XIII commented. Keeping her body to the floor, she crawled around to find the smoke grenades and tossed them out of the car one by one. “They’re meant to injure, not kill us. Well, I should say not kill you, rather.”
‘As if you had to remind me…’ Cosmo feigned a response, covering her mouth with one hand to keep from breathing in the smoke. Her weapon placed on the ground, she swapped the Lightning Emerald for the Fire in the single slot. The golem’s efforts, coupled with the exhaust updraft, once again caused the obscuring mists to dissipate and gave the flower girl a clear shot to the robots. Standing up and ambling over to an area by the door, she started charging a Lightning spell. “Bark, give me some cover!” she shouted, pouring more Mana into the spell.
“You-you got it, sis…” the bear groaned out. Rolling over and gasping for air, he pushed himself to a kneeling position and started firing another volley at Delta and Epsilon, who weaved around both the shots and the beams jutting out from the building. “Take this, you sons of bitches!” he roared, froth flecking from the corners of his mouth.
Green XIII soon joined beside Cosmo and began charging a spell of her own. “It sucks that these Support Emeralds have a cooldown period,” she stated glumly. A bright yellow crystal chunk formed at the end of her right palm. “No point in complaining, I suppose. You take the orange one, I’ll aim for the blue.”
Cosmo said nothing, but nodded in response. Concentrating, she stepped forward, her weapon floating in front of her as she pushed her hands out, calling “BOLT!”
Next to her, Green XIII thrusted out a palm and also called “BOLT!”
The two magic spells shot out and struck both robots head on, stunning them for a moment. Bark took the opportunity to rain bullets on Epsilon, the shots tearing through the thin armor covering its arms, legs and torso. The robots soon recovered and pulled back out of the bear’s firing range.
Wasting no time, Cosmo backed away, drew more energy from the Lightning Emerald and prepared another spell. As the glowing yellow ball formed in the palm of her hand, she began to feel the strain of drawing and forming spells back to back in such a quick fashion. She gritted her teeth and pushed through the feeling, knowing that her survival and freedom were on the line.
Bark limped to their position at the back of the car, a pained look on his face. He leaned against the door. “OK y’all, at this point, we’re sitting ducks unless we don’t get rid of these guys,” he grimaced, inserting new ammunition clips into his Gun-Arm. “We’re barely keeping them at bay! We need some sort of plan and fast!”
The golem stood in front of Cosmo, her body erect and vast arms up in a defensive stance. She turned her stony face to the flower girl “Here’s one: I’ll shield you from their fire,” she said calmly. “This crystal body of mine is a lot harder than it looks; it can take the punishment.” His face turned to Bark. “Get to the other side of the car and aim for the blue one. Try to keep it from protecting its comrade long enough for Cosmo to unleash electrical hell on it!”
Outside, Delta and Epsilon hovered back down to the slowly descending elevator car. The guns on Epsilon’s arms rotated back to the Gatlings and its barrels began to spin, warming up as the robot pointed them at the three.
The polar bear glanced back at Cosmo nervously. “Uh, anytime now?” he said to her worriedly.
“Bark! Fire!” Green XIII yelled out as Epsilon’s Gatling guns fired on the group. The golem roared loudly as the high-velocity rubber pellets struck her body repeatedly. Despite the onslaught, she stood her ground to shield Cosmo from the brunt of the assault.
Bark rolled out of the way, righted himself into a crouching position and aimed at Delta. But before he could get a shot out though, four solid rubber cylinders suddenly slammed hard into his upper body. The polar bear let out a startled grunt, spittle escaping from his mouth as the powerful rounds sent him onto his back and knocked him out cold.
From the corner of her eye, Cosmo watched this scene and her eyes widened in horror. Reacting more in panic than anything else, she thrusted her hand towards Epsilon – who continued to empty its entire load of rubber ammunition into the crystal golem – and called “BOLT!” The massive Lightning charge rocketed towards the mechaniloid and hit its mark before Delta could intercept. The impact sent waves of electricity all over its thinly armoured body and soon entered the holes Bark created earlier. The energy travelling within Epsilon’s body shorted out its weapons systems and overloaded the hoverjets on its legs, causing a massive explosion that took out its lower half. Without the jets to maintain its balance, combined with the weight of its weapons, the robot listed forwards before gravity took control and sent it falling to the ground.
“EPSILON!” Delta intoned, diving down to its comrade’s aid and granting the three Mobians a reprieve from the battle.
As soon as the robots departed, Cosmo heard the sound of crunching glass next to her. She turned her head and watched as Green XIII dropped to her hands and knees, her face contorted in agony. She gasped for air and blood was pooling out from her open mouth as she righted into a kneeling position. Cosmo’s jaw dropped at the sight of the numerous fractures that covered the front of her body and the spots of red blood splashed beneath it. ‘By the Goddess…’
Green XIII looked towards her, a pained smile crossing her face. “You… OK?” she asked in a voice that Cosmo could barely hear.
The flower girl, unable to speak as her eyes roved over the catastrophic damage covering the golem’s body, only nodded in response. She then brought a hand to her armour and tried to extract energy from the Restore Emerald, but she suddenly yelped in pain. Her vision swam and she swayed on the spot as a wave of exhaustion swept over her due to spell overuse. She propped herself against her retractable rod and let out a few shaky breaths before turning towards Bark.
Her hands nearly slipped off the grip of her weapon and her heart leapt to her throat at the sight of the unconscious bear lying spread-eagled on his back with his mouth open and his eyes shut. Large black bruises could be seen through the thick fur on his chest, which Cosmo saw move slightly up and down. He was still alive, but barely.
She hobbled over to Bark, knelt down beside him and started digging through his pockets for something that could help him recover. She brought out a fistful of phials and grenades and frantically sorted through them before her eyes landed on one filled with amber liquid. The label read: Phoenix Down. “That’s what I’m looking for,” she said quietly to herself. Setting the others aside in a haphazard manner, she quickly broke open the top of the phial with her teeth, raised Bark’s head so he wouldn’t choke on the liquid and poured it down his throat. She then grabbed his hat before it flew away from the high winds, knowing how important it was to him.
A few seconds later, the bear spluttered awake. Rising up to a sitting position, he groaned weakly and massaged his sore and bruised chest. “Why does this stuff always happen to me?” he moaned.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Cosmo smiled half-heartedly, brushing off his hat and handing it to him. “I’m supposed to be some all-powerful Seedrian, but I’m unfortunately not a clairvoyant.”
The bear let out a weak chuckle at the joke as he put his cap back on. “That is so lame,” he croaked. He brought his hand to his ribs and winced at the touch. “Ugh, feels like I fractured something…”
“Don’t worry,” Cosmo replied, reaching for the Ether phial on the ground. “I can heal you both after I down this and get a little…”
Her voice trailed off as the three heard the whine of hoverjets slowly approach them from below. Emerging into view was the combined forces of Delta and Epsilon. The latter’s body was fused to the back of the former. It was held aloft unsteadily by two large hoverjets on each side and Delta’s original leg jets. Epsilon’s arms were rotated towards Delta’s front and the blue robot’s grenade launchers were nestled into the slots on the underside of its orange counterpart’s weapon apparatuses. It then pointed the array towards the three. “SURRENDER OR FACE ELIMINATION,” Delta announced, charging all of its weapons to fire.
Time slowed to a crawl for Cosmo as she looked into Delta’s cold, unfeeling green eyes. Fear and dread froze her veins cold as she leaned on her staff and the only thing she could hear was the sound of her hyperventilating. ‘No. No! NO! This can’t be how this all ends!?’ she concluded miserably as she and her friends watched the combined robot power up their fused weapons. Hopelessly, she clasped her hands around her rod, closed her eyes and bowed her head. Around her, the sounds of the hoverjets seemed to get louder, as if the machines were moving closer to them. ‘If… If anyone can hear this…’ she scrunched up her eyes tightly and tensed herself up as she waited for the bullets to fly.
‘Tails… Cream… Someone… Anyone… Help…’
A moment passed. And then two. Cosmo cracked open an eye and saw to her surprise that the sound she was hearing was not the hoverjets, but the wind itself. It roared and swirled all around her body, which she now noticed was engulfed in a golden aura, tiny bolts of silver lightning arcing all over her. The powerful gusts buffeted Delta and sent it careening back towards the Egg Building’s outer facade.
Without thinking, the flower girl straightened herself up, closed her eyes once more and held her rod with both hands in front of her. She tapped into the wellspring of power that enveloped her and began twirling her weapon on instinct. As she did so, the gales swirled around her and started to give off a glow. They soon coalesced into a point at the centre of her rod and formed into a radiant ball of warm, silvery-gold light. Cosmo then brought the rod to a stop in front of her vertically and then spread her arms wide. The energy ball burst and showered herself, Bark and Green XIII with sparks of healing light.
Beside her, Bark stood up and stared out at the robots, his face livid and eyes seeing red. The black and blue bruises covering his chest faded away. “Alright! Time for a little payback!” he grunted, picking up one of the grenades on the floor. Holding it in his teeth, he then placed a hand on his Gun-Arm and tapped into the Fire Emerald that was nestled into the slot. With the energy surrounding his hand, he then grasped at the grenade and smiled viciously as the spell engulfed the explosive.
On her other side, Cosmo heard Green XIII grunt as she stood upright. Her crystal exterior was still cracked in many places, but the blood spots beneath it had vanished. The golem wiped the dried blood off of her mouth with the back of her hand, which was now glowing due to the golden aura that now surrounded her. “I agree, Bark,” she said, settling into a fighting stance and placing her left hand on her right fist. The aura migrated to her arms and a large, elongated mass of crystal began to form on the top of his fist. She broke the shaft off from his fist and hefted what looked to be a four-foot long spear in her hand. “Let’s kick this thing’s ass.”
Outside, Delta and Epsilon had regained their bearings and drifted back towards the elevator car. “PREPARE TO BE ANNIHILATED,” the robots both said as they aimed the fully charged weapons array at the three.
Bark glanced to Green XIII on his left. “Let’s do this, girl!” he shouted, pulling the spell-coated grenade’s pin out with his teeth. “FIRE!” he called out as he lobbed the device at the weapons array.
At the same time, the golem roared as she hefted the crystal spear and lobbed it with incredible force at Delta. The shaft sailed through the air and plunged deep into the blue robot’s domed head, right in between its eyes and into its central cortex. Bark’s Fire Grenade then collided with the weapons array and caused a violent, fiery explosion that destroyed the arms of both machines. The sounds of the weapons array scattering to the ground echoed all around them, the various mechanisms making loud clanging noises as they struck the beams connecting to the building’s egg-shaped exoskeleton.
With Delta offline, Epsilon struggled to maintain lift with its own hoverjet booster. Seeing that they were outmatched, it began to back away from the car in a bid for retreat. It barely travelled three feet when it was struck down by a lightning bolt. The electric energy caused the final hoverjet engine to explode, sending both robots down the remaining forty stories until they crashed to the lobby area below, the impact on the concrete shattering their bodies into pieces.
Cosmo breathed laboriously, the hand that cast the Lighting spell which finished off Delta and Epsilon still outstretched. An empty Ether phial lay by her feet. “And good riddance,” she said, a slight smile crossing her lips.
The elevator suddenly jerked and resumed its normal operation and the car began to quickly travel down the remaining forty levels to the ground floor. As Bark and Green XIII offered their profuse thanks to her for getting them out of that jam, Cosmo felt incredibly uneasy. In the desperation that she faced earlier, she had inadvertently unleashed some sort of power within her. It wasn’t like talking to plants or having a strong command of magic; this power, she surmised, was the same that Nagus spoke of earlier. It was the same power that she tried to push away her whole life in fear that she would end up dead, just like her real mother. ‘If this is what I can do, it’s no wonder Kintobor wants me so badly,’ she ruminated as the car made a slow stop to the main lobby.
Bark got out of the car first and headed to a nearby bench to sit down and rest, with Cosmo and Green XII following suit. The bear looked around the lobby with disinterest and cast a disgusted look at the smashed remains of Delta and Epsilon nearby. “Man, I’m gonna be glad to get the hell out of here,” he commented, massaging his neck and letting out a sigh. “I sure hope Tails and Cream get here soon.”