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 The Corruptors

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CuteCat
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PostSubject: The Corruptors   Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:48 pm

_____________________________

Chapter 00: Prologue
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The year is 2743. Parts of the world are in total chaos... The humans have developed very advanced robots, that are perfect fighters to use as bodyguards, or in wars. Not all of them are fighters, however. They can also be smart, perfect to have as friends and doing all the hard work. Animal robots were made, as they can do things that human robots cannot, like reach high or narrow places that human robots can't and work in extreme conditions. For this last cause, some were even made to breathe or shoot such things as ice, fire, water or electricity. These robots, however, would have to be able to friends from foes and have the capacity to make decisions on their own... So they were given free will. They were modified more and more to be like humans, oil being switched to synthetic blood and having to breathe to stay active, or "alive". However...

The humans forgot one thing when they massproduced and spread these new creations across the world - Loyalty. It started with one robot, a prototype for the 'free will' project. It was killing and destroying entire cities, before it finally killed its own creator and disappeared without a trace. The military and leaders of the countries managed to convince the people that the robot had been destroyed, and that it had faulty programming. And so, the whole event was sadly enough forgotten, and the robots with free will were eventually allowed to spread throughout the countries.

There seemed to be peace again, until a new robot picked up where the last one had stopped. This one, too, suddenly disappeared. The military and various leaders again tried to keep the events secret, but by then it was already too late. Various groups of robots decided that humans were inferior, a worthless and weak race that had to die. They betrayed the humans, and started to mercilessly murder them. Other robots tried to stop them and protect the humans, causing huge casualties for both sides and starting a war. At first, it looked like the humans would win the war... But then someone spread a virus. Infecting robot minds, altering their personalities so that they would believe their 'real purpose', so that they would believe that the humans and everybody fighting for them were their enemies. The virus spread across the country where it had originated, and nobody could find its source... Any robot could become corrupted and start killing the humans around it, even if it would soon get killed. These kinds of events were what gave the evil robots their nickname; "the Corruptors"...

The countries surrounding those with the Corruptors were too busy fighting their own wars to help out, and the prospect of Corruptors spreading through the entire world was terrifying - as such, a last-ditch solution was used. The infected countries were put in quarantine, allowing nothing to leave in case it had been corrupted. Near nobody wished to enter in order to help either, due to the terrible dangers the virus represented. As such, left only with the help of its own troops, there was a country fighting with the Corruptors in a battle to extinction...
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PostSubject: Re: The Corruptors   Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:59 pm

_____________________________

Chapter 01: Abandoned soul
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It was precisely 03:14 PM. As usual, the large, rectangular buildings of the city stood and gloomily reached out into the clouded sky, darker than the sky itself. It looked like there would be a storm, but no such thing would happen. This kind of weather was normal at night. The silhouettes of several policemen were searching the dark, deserted streets, looking for someone. On the edge on top of one of the buildings, a figure stood, silently looking down at the police. He didn't look older than a teenager... His body was hidden in a cloak, but his head was not. He had dark red eyes, and was wearing a black helmet with what looked like a pair of small, dark blue bat wings on the sides, pointed backwards. He sighed to himself, closing his eyes.

"You there! Stop!"

The boy turned around as he heard a policeman shout from behind him. "It looks like you caught up with me..." he said, a bit of sorrow and tiredness in his voice.

"You're coming with me!" the policeman shouted, pointing a gun towards the boy. The officer was wearing a dark blue breastplate, as well as armored gloves and boots in the same color. At the boot's highest points were light red crystals. The boy said nothing. A human soldier... He couldn’t have been on the police force for long, as the man was trembling. The boy turned back to the edge, looking down at the ground below quietly. Contemplating.

"Didn't you hear me? Come over here and no one gets hurt..." the policeman said again, trying to sound confident. The boy didn't answer, nor obey. Instead, he jumped off the building, landing on a porch a few floors below and looking up towards the policeman.

"Do you dare to follow me...?" he asked quietly and jumped off the porch, falling another couple of floors before landing on a car and running down along the deserted street. The policeman was standing at the edge of the roof, staring after the boy as he disappeared. Snapping out of it, he shook his head.

"Damn…" he growled, knowing that he couldn’t possibly take such a fall. He turned around and ran down the stairs, taking a communicator from his belt and activating it. “Hey! The Corruptor is headed to Danton Street…” he called into it. Then he frowned. Nobody’s at Danton Street… Was he really the closest?
___

The boy glanced behind himself as he ran, blinking and looking forward again as he couldn’t see anybody following him. He ran off the street into a dead end alley, jumping over a brick wall and stopping on the other side. They couldn’t follow him here without climbing over the wall and losing track of him, so he could calm down now... The boy wandered in silence until he reached a large, worn out building, a warehouse of some sort. He stopped in front of it, looking at the entrance. It wasn’t just a normal warehouse, but the base of the Corruptors in this city…

"...No." He shook his head and started to walk again, avoiding the streets as he snuck out of the city. He climbed up into a large, mechanical tree, sitting on a branch and looking at the moon. It was well visible despite the clouds, almost ghost-like as it shone on the blanket of black clouds. There was a full moon tonight, but it looked like it was bleeding, being a dark red color...

"A blood moon..." he whispered to himself. It made him feel uneasy, even something that resembled blood, and he didn't know why... He closed his eyes, shaking his head to get rid of the feeling. Reopening his eyes, he jumped down from the tree and looked behind himself with a heavy sigh.

"I know that you're there... Stop hiding, Zev." he said, his voice and eyes becoming more cold and defiant as he prepared to speak to his leader. To show emotions to him could be a fatal mistake.

"Heheheheh... I guess I can't hide from you, Sonci..." a rumbling voice, growling, answered as a large robot walked out of the shadows. It was covered with heavy, silver-colored body armor, and had the form of a wolf with large fangs and claws. The creature was hunched over in a crouch, walking toward the boy in a way that would have terrified any civilian and even policemen, its long and spiky tail wagging back and forth with each movement. "Did you accomplish your mission, Sonci?" Zev asked.

"Mission? Yes... I did." the boy, Sonci, answered.

"Any casualties?" the wolf asked in a curious and hopeful voice, tilting its large head to the side and letting its jaw hang open in a frightening way.

"None. You know I don't like to kill, and besides the odds were too bad." Sonci answered again with a shrug.

Zev looked disappointed, his ears drooping. "How bad?"

"There were at least three dozen of those police. None of the elites were there, though." Sonci said with a sigh. This was a lie - there weren't nearly as many police. But the higher number he said, the less likely was it that Zev would be mad at him for not fighting.

"I see... Very well then, let's go back to the base." the wolf said, believing the lie. But, to go back now...?

"...No." Sonci answered, looking away. He couldn't go, not yet. "I have something to do."

"You've done enough for tonight. Come on now." Zev said in a slightly annoyed tone, reaching out to grab the boy’s arm.

"I said no!" Sonci shouted and ran away, dodging the grab and moving back into the town. He was a robot himself, but he wasn't crazy like Zev and the other Corruptors he worked with. Many of them wanted no more than to cause the extinction of all humans, and he hated that fact. Only a few didn't like it... They thought that he felt the same, but he didn't. Their ideals, their sick ideas and habits just disgusted him. And perhaps because of that, Zev never wanted him alone if not on a mission. He didn't know if the wolf knew of his thoughts and habits or not, but he'd always search him out and try to drag him back...

Sonci suddenly screeched to a stop, snapping out of his thoughts as he saw the police searching the streets in front of him. He couldn't go that way... He had almost forgotten about the policemen that roamed the streets. He ran into an alley on his right, climbing over the brick wall at the end of it. He continued to run, until he was sure that Zev wasn't following him like he had followed him from the base. By then he climbed up onto a rooftop, finally allowing himself to relax as he sat down. Soon, he fell into a light sleep…
___

Sonci suddenly woke up as the sun, rising over the clouded horizon, shone him in the eyes. He stirred, then dashed to his feet. He hadn't been supposed to fall asleep! If anyone would have found him... But he didn't have time to think about that now. He had to get back to the base so the others wouldn't get suspicious. It was enough that Zev felt that way... He walked over to the edge of the roof, looking down. The streets were crowded with people... He couldn't go that way, he didn't want to make a fuss. Instead he looked at a nearby rooftop. That might work... He walked a couple of steps backwards, dashed towards the other roof, and jumped, landing on the roof softly before dashing to the other side of it and jumping to another rooftop. After a while he stopped on a large roof, reaching up and tapping his helmet twice with a silver-colored glove.

"Weird.... Something must be broken. I keep hearing small sounds... As if someone's following me." he said, sighing as he looked around himself. "The only ones who would follow me like this are... Oh, goddamnit!" He slapped himself in the forehead.

"Zev really distrusts me! Okay, I know that you're there... Stop hiding, you two." he almost whined, turning around. Just as he had hoped, a large panda-like robot and a smaller, pink bunny-robot with human-like limbs were now standing behind him, both with bright red eyes. The panda robot had oversized claws and shoulders, but he was the closest there could be to a real one as pandas - along with most other animals - were extinct. Sonci knew those two... The panda was named Babou and the bunny's name was Chess. They were a pair of scouts, taking on missions such as searching for lost friends or hidden treasure, but not without a price. The only one they would give their services to for free was Zev, which was mainly because he was their boss. But somehow, Sonci was convinced that Zev hadn't sent them out because he cared. He knew that the one who sent them was Zev, nobody else would want Sonci tracked down. But… Why now? He hadn't done anything bad. Did the wolf suspect something?

"All right, Sonci! Come with us now..." Chess said in her usual young, boyish voice, and motioned for him to come closer.

Sonci started to protest, but was cut off as Babou simply walked over and picked him up, hugging him so tight that he couldn't move an inch. The panda had taken advantage of the fact that he was distracted by Chess! The giant panda jumped down from the roof, landing heavily, then walked through the stunned crowd of civilians as Chess jumped down after the two and landed on her friend’s shoulder.

"What are you doing? We're getting too much attention!" Sonci whispered worriedly to him, struggling to get the panda to loosen up.

"It's okay. Noone'll suspect us. Just keep still now, and we'll be out of here in no time!" Babou answered calmly, instinctively pressing Sonci tighter towards his chest. Sonci didn't answer, partially because he lacked the amount of air needed to. The panda chose streets that weren’t crowded, systematically picking the roads with less people than the one he was currently on, until eventually they were walking on an empty street.

"This hurts, Babou..." Sonci said, letting a whimpering tone into his voice as he tried to pry himself loose. Even though he was much weaker than the giant panda, it didn’t hurt to try. "I can't breath...!"

Babou looked at him, a bit surprised as the boy whimpered and squirmed in his grip. "Did you say anything?" he asked.

"He said that he can't breath. Loosen up a little, will you?" Chess remarked, smirking. ”He wouldn’t be happy if the kid was dead once we got there, now would he?”

"Oh. Sorry..." Babou said, loosening his grip a little, but not enough for Sonci to move around. The boy frowned.

"I can walk by my own..." he said, after having regained his breath. "Let go of me."

"No can do, Sonci." Babou answered with a shrug.

"What do you mean, 'No can do'? Why not?" Sonci asked, but he already knew the answer.

"It's because we've got orders to find you and bring you back to the base! He also told us to be sure to not let you go," Chess interrupted, a taunting smile on her face. "That's why!"

"Who told you?" Sonci sighed. He knew the answer to this, too, but… He needed to make sure.

"Zev, of course!" the bunny confirmed happily, her smile widening.

"Thought so..." Sonci mumbled to himself. He wanted to do something, but what? He couldn't move, so escaping was out of the question – especially if he wished to stay on Zev’s good side. He didn’t want to try and deal with Chess’ confident, constantly taunting attitude, and if he tried to speak to Babou then the bunny would just enter the conversation anyway. And since Zev was the one who gave them the job, he wouldn't be able to talk them into releasing him... So, instead he decided to wonder about what Zev could want. If he didn’t suspect anything about Sonci’s behaviour, then what…?
___

"Where were you last night? Running around in town is very dangerous right after a mission!" Zev shouted, fangs bared as he hit his paws into the table. "You have to be careful, not running away like an idiot! ...And listen while I'm talking to you, Sonci!!"

Sonci was currently examining the room with the coldest, most uninterested eyes he could, not paying any attention to the angered wolf robot in front of him. They were in an office, or... something in that direction, atleast. The walls were cracked, there were no windows, it was very dusty, and the only furniture in it was a chair, a table, and a lamp that was stuck to the ceiling. When he heard his name, the boy blinked and looked over to the wolf. "Huh? Did you say anything?" he asked innocently. Chess snickered, guarding the door together with Babou. Actually, only the panda was guarding the door, Chess was just accompanying him.

Zev growled. "I said that I want to know where the hell you were last night!" he snapped, clenching his fists and rising to his feet. The boy narrowed his eyes defiantly. "And since when has that been any of your concern? Why should you care about what I do, Zev?" he asked.

"Answer me!" Zev snapped again, nearly howling in his rage as he walked up mere inches from Sonci's face.

"Why would I?" the boy answered with a shrug, turning around and walking towards the door. He was stopped as Zev grabbed the collar of his cloak, pulling the boy eye to eye and raising him so he couldn't touch the ground. "Don't act that way with me! We don't know what you've been doing, but if you get caught by someone or are allied with those cops, then...!"

"Don't be stupid. Calm down instead, you have such a short temper..." Sonci remarked as calmly as he could. "But, you still haven't answered my question; Why should I tell you? You have to give me a good reason to do so, first." he said, trying to pull himself free. Knowing that the cloak would tear or let the boy slip out of his grip, Zev changed his grip to the boy’s neck to prevent him from escaping. This damn kid was acting far too confident! It was pissing him off...

"How's this: You'll tell me where you were last night. If you don't, then... Then..." the wolf trailed off.

"No reason to, huh? Thought so." Sonci said, closing his eyes.

Zev squeezed his neck. "Shut up... If you won't tell me where you were last night, you damn midget, you'll have one head less! Get it?" he snarled.

"Yeah..." the boy answered slowly, opening his eyes a little. The look in the wolf's eyes told him that it would actually do it, and Sonci wasn't going to risk getting killed... Not simply for the sake of standing up against his leader. The key to survival and being left alone was to struggle not too much, and not too little. "I'll tell you... I've been looking for information about a special crystal that I need, and about my creator."

"Oh, that's right..." Zev said, a mean smile spreading onto his face. "You don't know who your creator is. We found you in an alley and decided to pick you up. Heheheh... But what would someone like you want to do with a crystal, hmm?"

"That is none of your business," Sonci said and turned his head away, closing his eyes again. "I don't trust you."

"Hmph. And why not? Do you think I'd betray you?" Zev asked with a grin, a mocking tone in his voice.

"If I told you, I know you would betray me. Sorry Zev." Sonci sighed.

The wolf growled. "What was that...!? Don't act all cool with me, brat! Fine, so you won't say anything about that... Your creator, then?"

"What about him?" Sonci asked innocently.

"What did you find out about him?" the wolf asked impatiently.

"I'd rather not talk about it." Sonci sighed again, a slight tone of sadness seeping into his voice.

Zev suddenly dropped Sonci. "Fine. I'll believe you... THIS time. I'll let you keep your little secrets. But if you run away like that again, I won't be as merciful! Get lost!" he howled, nearly cutting the boy open as he pointed at him. Sonci walked up to the door and left without saying a word. He went out into the corridor, following it until he reached his room. The abandoned warehouse that he was in was their base, where everyone lived…. After having entered the room he sat down, pulled the cloak down from his face, and exhaled loudly.

"That was close... He didn't seem too concerned about the information I had, he didn't try to force me to tell him... That's lucky, I guess." He sighed sadly and kicked up some dirt that was on the floor. "Damn Zev... It's too dangerous to work for him, I don't want to! Just because he used to be with the police, he's that bossy...? I should sneak out and talk to non-Corruptors later..." The last sentence was nearly a whisper, as he spoke his thoughts out loud. He knew that he would be in trouble if someone caught him saying such things... Which was what made him jump as someone knocked on the door.

"Sonci?" a deep yet childlike voice said from the other side. Sonci recognized it instantly.

"Yeah? What is it, Raccoo?" he answered in what he hoped was an uninterested tone, walking over to the door.

"Would you let me in?" the voice asked.

"The door isn't locked." Sonci answered, shrugging softly even though he knew the person couldn't see the move.

"Oh." The door opened, and a small, human robot scientist came in. He was difficult to tell from a real human, and looked like he was around twelve or thirteen years old... He was wearing light, green armor beneath his lab coat, and had bright red eyes - partialy covered by his black, spiky mess of hair and light green communicator helmet. He was wearing a pair of glasses as well, and carried a notebook beneath his right arm.

"I need to talk to you…" he said.

"About what?" Sonci asked, clasping his hands behind his back and leaning against a wall.

Raccoo looked down at his notebook for a few seconds before answering. "Well, it's about the... The virus, actually. It's kind of weird."

"Weird?" Sonci asked, tilting his head to the side. Although he already knew, he had to act natural. "How so?"

"The effects." Raccoo answered, not looking up from the notebook. "Or rather, the lack of them... Your eyes are a darker red than they should be, and it's actually very possible that they were that color before you were infected. Zev's alerted us to that you still seem to care a lot for humans, too, to the point of interacting normally with them and actively avoiding causing them any harm. The only other one here who does so is Hanacha, and it makes no sense for you to have been infected that way..." The scientist looked up, straight at Sonci. "We'd like to go through your systems, so that we can check if the virus has been causing any kind of damage or side-effects."

"No. Sorry, Raccoo - I'm fine." the boy answered quickly. A bit too quickly? No, Raccoo didn't seem to think so. "The virus hasn't had any side-effects on me, I think... And I don't really feel anything for humans, I just... don't like killing."

The young scientist sighed heavily. "I see... It makes me wonder if the virus had any effect on you at all. If you feel anything, then come talk to me." he said. Sonci nodded, and Raccoo decided to add something: "You may get infected again soon."

The boy nearly flinched. "Again? Why?"

"They're making a new virus." Raccoo said with a soft smile. "I don't know the details quite yet, but due to the poor results from the previous virus, it's possible that you'll be used as a guinea pig."

"I... I see. Thank you for the information, Raccoo..." Sonci sighed, trying to keep his composure. "I won't be your guinea pig, however."

"If you won't let us check up on your systems, I'm afraid that you won't have much of a choice. Sorry."

"I need to think this over... Thanks, Raccoo. You can leave now..." Sonci ushered Raccoo out of his room, closing the door again as the scientist walked away. Him... A guinea pig...? As he thought about it, he had never quite been sure about why the virus hadn't worked, nor about whether any damage had been caused by it or the thing that stopped it. If he had to be re-infected with a newer version of the virus, then what? Maybe it would work this time...

I have less time than I thought... Sonci frowned. Atleast Raccoo had been kind enough to warn him. The young scientist was new, just recently having been 'convinced' to join the side of the Corruptors. Unable to resist the virus – would the same thing happen to him? Sonci felt disgusted. He still disliked the fact that he was helping Corruptors, but he had no other choice at the moment. He didn't know why the virus didn't affect him... And he wasn't sure if he would ever find out. Lying down on the large bed, he wondered what would happen next as he stared into the ceiling... And then he remembered that he hadn't given Zev the information he had stolen, during the mission he recently finished. He should give it to Zev as soon as possible to prevent getting in any more trouble... Standing up, he sighed as he took a small disk from a pocket inside of his cloak and left his room.
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PostSubject: Re: The Corruptors   Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:55 pm

__________________

Chapter 2: Black Flame
__________________

Sonci knocked on a dark brown, wooden door, carefully not to break it as he wasn't sure what condition it was in. If it had been here as long as he thought, then it would be rather fragile.

"Zev?" he asked loudly. "Are you there?" As no one answered or opened the door, he tried to push the door open with his left hand. He was holding a small disk in his right one, and kept a firm hold on the small item. To his surprise, the door opened easily. Wasn't it usually locked? He peeked into the room, only to find it empty. Confused, he carefully walked into the room, pushing the door shut behind himself. The room was very large; it had probably been used as a storage before the building was abandoned. The walls were dusty and there were old containers lying littered around, large spiderwebs decorating the ceiling. A single broken window was throwing a weak light over the metal floor as Sonci wandered further into the room, his steps echoing back at him loudly.

"Zev!?" he shouted. "Are you here somewhere!?" After a few moments, he lowered his voice and murmured to himself. "Damn it, I can't see well in the darkness around here. I should go back and fetch a lantern before I get lost..." He sighed, hoping that he remembered the way right, as he started to go back the way he had came from. With the exception of the broken window, everything in the storage was dark. As he searched for the way out he heard a faint but clear sound, that of a being tapping against something behind him. He quickly turned around.

"Who's there!?" he called out, but there was no answer. "Zev? ... Weird. I'm SURE I heard something..." Sonci mumbled, continuing to walk. He left the room, silently checking every now and then for any other noise, but he didn't hear anything else. Closing the door carefully, he went and looked for something to light his way with. He found nothing. Sighing, he went and snatched a flashlight from one of the rooms - it probably belonged to Hissya. He'd put it back later, so nobody would notice. He stuffed the small disk with data into a pocket on his cloak, walking back to Zev's room. Calling Zev's name, he searched through the huge storage, but without any results. Where could he have gone...? Zev was always in this room at this time of the night, if he wasn’t in his office. The wolf hadn’t been there now, and this was the only other room where he would rest – the unlocked door was another thing that pointed toward Zev being here... As Sonci was walking through one of the darkest parts, he heard the same sound as before. The faint noise of someone inexperienced at sneaking. He stopped, now sure that he wasn't wrong.

"I can hear you. It's no use hiding anymore, come out." he said, sighing slightly. Once again, nobody answered him. He heard something shuffling around silently, and sighed again.

"Fine... Hide like the cowardly rat you are." he shrugged and started to walk again, readying his knife. If that was who he thought it was, he wouldn't accept being insulted like that. Suddenly, something heavy landed behind him, and he was grabbed from behind. Large, sharp claws grabbed onto his chest and face and held them tightly to a large, cold body. The creature kneeled over and lost it's grip, though, as its prey dug a green energy-knife into its stomach. It was Zev. The wolf clutched its stomach with a hurt gasp, coughing as it backed off a step.

"What the... You only have yourself to blame for that. NEVER sneak up on me or press your claws against my chest again!" Sonci sneered, holding a hand on his chest as he turned to see the wolf, eyeing Zev suspiciously. Somehow, he didn't feel all that surprised that the wolf had tried to restrain him. "Why were you sneaking around anyway?"

"Just being careful. And you? What are you doing in here!? You know that you're not allowed in this room!" Zev answered, pulling the knife out furiously and throwing it to the ground. Sonci picked it up, sheathing the item at his left shoulder as the blade of energy flickered and vanished. He always kept the blade beneath his cloak, safely hidden from view.

"I was going to give this to you," he answered softly and took the small disk from the pocket in his cloak, holding it between his index and middle finger as he held it out to his leader. "You've really got to do something about that unprotected stomach of yours, Zev... Catch. I really don't want to be here longer than necessary." With this said, he tossed the disk to his leader and left.

"You little *******..." Zev growled after him. "Just leaving me like this!?"

"It's your own fault. Find your own solution." Sonci answered coldly as he disappeared into the darkness surrounding them. The real reason was different than Zev thought - he just didn't want to see the blood.
___

After putting the flashlight back where he had taken it, Sonci walked to his room and locked the door behind him. Sitting down on the floor, he traced his right hand carefully along the marks he knew lined his chest. When he looked at his hand again, his fingers were smeared with dark red blood.

"Damnit..." he whispered. Closing his eyes and shaking his head, Sonci stood up and wiped the blood off onto the wall.

That feeling again... He opened his eyes and sighed. Always feeling the same thing when seeing blood… like a kind of sick bloodlust, or a headache clouding his senses.

"Zev pressed too hard. He reopened my wound... Damn wolf...” Sonci thought aloud. Since his leader was damaged, it wasn’t likely that he would have any mission soon, especially since he had just finished one. He might as well try to find some more information, as he hadn’t been able to gather anything worthwhile recently. Pulling the cloak over his mouth, he left his room and walked through the corridors until he got outside. He looked around at the seemingly empty buildings. Would it be safe to travel on the ground? Or was the police still searching? It wasn’t likely, but he didn’t wish to take any risks. He climbed onto the roof of the base, and travelled across the rooftops silently until he came to his destination. As he wandered down the fire escape, it was possible to see a lit bar called 'The Happy Toad', seeming very warm and welcoming compared to the larger, black buildings surrounding it. Sonci wasn't sure why it was called something as stupid as 'The Happy Toad' – maybe an attempt at making it sound like the old-time taverns where travellers and mercenaries would gather? - but that wasn't important. Jumping down to the ground as the fire escape didn’t go all the way down, he opened the door and walked inside carefully. Humans and robots alike, both corrupted and normal ones were in the bar, but nobody seemed to try and fight with another one. Chatting, eating or drinking, maybe even getting drunk – people seemed too busy to notice the cloaked boy that entered. Sitting down at an empty table, Sonci calmed down a little. It was forbidden to fight in here, so he was safe. He looked around, idly wondering if there was someone who wasn’t too busy to talk to him, but his thoughts were interrupted as a waitress came up to him and smiled in that welcoming way waitresses often do.

"What do you want to order?" she asked. She was a human, he noticed.

"I only came to get some information, so it won't be anything," Sonci said with a small shrug, smiling apologetically. He didn't have that much money, anyway.

"Alright. What would you want information about?" she asked, after a moment of silence adding: "...Are you normal or corrupted...?" She sounded nervous, was she afraid that Sonci would be offended? Or was it something else?

"Normal..." Sonci answered, wanting to avoid any further questions about it. "Anyway, I'm trying to find a crystal called the 'Black Flame'. Do you know anything about it?"

The woman looked confused. " Black Flame? ...I'm so sorry, I haven't heard of it." she said and shook her head.

"I see. That's too bad... I'll ask someone else. I'll have a glass of water." Sonci said, leaning his head in one of his hands. He might as well take something while he was here, there was no telling how long he would stay here... The woman quickly left to get his order as Sonci sighed. As usual... Nobody has heard about it! It's so hard to find info...

"Excuse me..."

Sonci sat up straight and looked in confusion at the young woman who came and sat down at his table. She had blue eyes, and was wearing an orange helmet with a pair of purple, bird-like wings on it. The wings had golden tips, and were trailing backward, a purple line stretching across the helmet in between the two. Her body was covered in bright orange armor, while her limbs were covered in a softer, thinner armor made for flexibility instead of protection. She was wearing orange gloves and boots that were a similar color, but lined with purple at the top and gold at the bottom. A dark purple belt with what looked like a Walkie-Talkie with a long antenna in lay around her waist. A communicator...

"I overheard what you said, and I think I can help you," she said, leaning her head in her left hand and resting her elbow on the table.

"Really?" Sonci was surprised. "Do you know anything about the Black Flame?"

"Of course!" she chuckled, sitting up straight. "It was one of the stories we were told as children. It's a cursed crystal, hidden deep inside of a huge, old ruin. Why would you want it?" She tilted her head to the side lightly.

"Well... I need it to restore my memory... And to find something." Sonci said cautiously. He knew how weird this sounded, but the woman just snickered at it.

"Planning to use it for such a purpose, huh?" she asked softly. ”According to the stories, lots of people have tried to get a hold of that crystal. Nobody has gotten it, though... They go in, but they never go out."

"I don't care. I have to find it... Oh, thanks." The last line was towards the waitress, whom arrived with Sonci's water.

"I'll have some juice. He's paying," the woman said and nodded towards Sonci.

"What-? No I'm not! Pay for your own drink!" Sonci yelped. The waitress just smiled faintly and left. Sonci sighed at this and took a sip from his water. "I’ll pay, if you tell me your name and in which ruin the crystal is..." he mumbled.

"Okay - my name's Aya. But for the info about the crystal... I want something else in return." The girl smiled faintly.

"Huh? ...What would you want?" Sonci asked, surprised. Wasn't it enough to pay for her drink?

"I want you to stop stealing things from our base. It WAS you last night, I saw it..." Aya said, leaning both arms onto the table.

"Uh..." Sonci wasn't sure what to answer to that. What if he got any more missions where he had to do that? It wasn't like he wanted to... "... I'll try. I can't promise anything, though." he said, hoping for her to understand.

"Good enough." Aya smiled, before she lowered her voice to a whisper. "The crystal is in the Ataña ruins."

"Ataña...? Got it. Thank you, Aya." Sonci answered in the same low voice, rising from his chair and putting a few coins on the table. The water was free anyway, so he left the glass as he left the tavern. Once outside, he went back to his home, moving around the alleys to avoid that anyone saw him. Even after getting into the base, he snuck to his room - Zev was probably still angry at him, so it wasn't very safe to act casual. As he reached his room, Sonci sighed and decided to get some sleep. He lay down on his so-called bed, looking into the roof as he put his arms behind his head as a pillow. Thinking. Wondering.

Sighing, he sat up and shook his head. He wasn't done yet. The boy stood up, and held a hand on his chest carefully. It hadn't bled anymore… That was good. He opened the door and went outside into the corridor, following it until he reached the door to the storage room. Zev's second hideout. He soundlessly opened the door and entered the room. He should check on Zev... For some reason, he felt guilty. Having abandoned his leader that way… He walked as quietly as he could, trying to the spot where he had left the wolf. But he had no flashlight this time, and he couldn't find his way around. He climbed up on an empty container and looked around to see where he was, but jumped over to another one as he didn’t see anything. But because of the silence, it clanged and echoed loudly as he landed.

"Damnit." he muttered under his breath. "I can't sneak here! I'll get caught directly... He won’t be happy if he sees me come back, probably…" He looked around to jump back, but he didn't see the other container - only darkness. He jumped down from the one he was standing on, landing on the metal floor with a clang. He walked in the direction he thought he was supposed to, but he didn't find any exit. He kept moving through the darkness, trying to see and find something to use as a landmark, as the surroundings became darker and darker. Until suddenly, he tripped over something. He hit the ground with a yelp, and noticed that he was lying on something – not the floor, but something else. An item? Confused, he picked up the thing. As he looked at it, trying to see what it was, a blade of blue electricity suddenly shot out from it, almost hitting Sonci. It lit up the area with a blue light, blindingly strong compared to the darkness that had been there previously...

Once he had managed to regain his sight, Sonci looked at the impressive blade, and then looked around himself in awe. What he had picked up was a sword, the hilt made in bronze, and with small, blue sapphires forming a ring where the blade should be... Sapphires which, in fact, formed the blade. There were other things too, in the box that Sonci had tripped over. Various guns and other weapons had been strewn across the floor. But why hadn't Zev said anything about these? Sonci stood up. Using the sword as a flashlight, he found his way to where he had stabbed Zev. The wolf wasn't there, but the blood trails showed that he had left – a bit staggering at first, but soon walking more straight. Good... Sonci would be in trouble if Zev was still in the room. The wolf should be in the medical bay, by now. Sonci closed his eyes and let out a satisfied sigh. From there, he just had to follow his own trails from the last time to get out. He went to his room again, lying down on the bed. He hid the sword’s hilt beneath his cloak, and looking into the roof, he soon drifted off to sleep...
___

Aya chuckled as she drank the last of her juice. "He was a nice guy... Too bad he wants to go and get himself killed." she said to herself. "If that crystal exists, even. But, he had his reasons, I guess." she added, leaning back with her hands behind her head and smiling. "I should get going soon, too. After all, I'm still on duty..." As she said that, a light on her communicator started flashing. Taking the item from her belt, she clicked a button beneath the light and helt the communicator up to her ear.

"Aya here. What is it?" she asked innocently.

"AYA! Get back to your post!" a male voice shouted from the other end.

"Fine, Cirocco. Can't I have any free time?" Aya sighed. Every time she left...

"Aya, if you're running off I'm the one who gets blamed! Silver is coming to check on us soon, so come back here!!" the voice shouted again in a rather weak attempt to be commanding. He sounded more desperate than anything else.

"It's all right! I found the Corruptor who got into our base yesterday, and I made him promise not to steal our stuff again!" Aya said reassuringly, chuckling slightly.

"Do you think he'll listen? Just come back or I'll get yelled at again…" There was a few seconds of silence, before Cirocco asked: "Was he drunk, or did he want something in return?"

"He promised it in exchange for the location of the Black Flame. Nice guy, actually. I'll tell you more when I arrive." Aya said teasingly, smiling.

"'Black Flame'...? Isn't that just a fairytale? What would he want with something like that?" Cirroco asked. The voice showed that he was starting to get interested, although confused, now.

"As I said, I'll tell you when I arrive!" Aya giggled.

"Aw, come on Aya! Don't tease me like that..." She heard a sigh. "Get back here quickly.."

Aya giggled again. "Of course!" she said, then pushed the button again to stop the transmission. Putting the communicator back into her belt, she went outside. She climbed up on a roof, jumped from it, and... A pair of boosters beneath her boots activated, letting her fly. She had problems trying to control the sudden air turbulence for a moment, stumbling, but soon she gained full control and rose above the roof. Floating to a dirty area of the city, even darker than the usual darkness that covered the streets at night, she easily landed. There was a lone streetlight, lighting up a little but making the surroundings even darker. A boy was sitting on an empty trash container near the streetlight, swinging his legs as he was waiting. He was clearly a human, with light skin and emerald green eyes. He was wearing a dark blue breastplate with shoulderpads colored gold around the edges, and a golden, high collar to protect the neck, as well as armored gloves and boots in the dark blue color. At the boots' highest points were light red crystals. He was wearing a black belt with a gun and a communicator in it. He wore a dark blue helmet, with clear red fox ears and a beautiful, light red crystal between his eyes - just like the crystals on his boots. Noticing Aya, the boy looked at her and smiled.

"About time. I was starting to wonder if you'd ever show up..." he said, a bit jokingly. "Did anybody see you?"

"No need to worry, Cirocco." Aya answered happily. "I don't make mistakes like that! Everything been going all right?"

"Yeah. Nobody ever comes here anyway..." Cirocco shrugged as he jumped down from the container. "Well, about what you said earlier, about that Corruptor... Why did he want the Black Flame?"

"To be honest, I'm not sure," Aya said with a shrug. "He said something about 'restoring his memory’, and finding something. Sounds suspicious to me. Then again..."

"...We humans shouldn't check too deep into the affairs of those kinds of people," Cirocco filled in for her.

"Right. He's such a nice guy, though. I'm surprised that he's on their side..." Aya said, mostly to herself.

"You shouldn't trust strangers, no matter how nice they are." Cirocco pointed out. "Especially not Corruptors. Remember that."

Aya sighed. "I know, Cirocco. Stop reminding me of it! Geez..."

They both heard a chuckle from behind themselves. "You two are just like siblings." someone said. As they looked at the person, they found out that it was a young man with dark grey eyes and silvercolored, semi-long hair reaching down his shoulders. He was wearing the same sort of armor as Cirocco, but without any shoulderpads, collar or helmet.

"Silver! Good evening, commander!" Cirocco stumbled slightly as he jumped down from the trashcan, doing a quick salutation.

"Checking if you guys can watch this spot by yourselves. It can be a dangerous place, and I don't want any casualties." Silver said.

"We're not kids anymore, even if we're humans." Aya said in a somewhat annoyed voice. "So don't treat us like kids just because you're a robot."

"A-Aya!" Cirocco whined. "Be polite!"

"Alright, but I was just telling the truth. What's wrong with that?" Aya asked innocently. Silver patted Aya on the head.

"Well, everything seems to be fine, so I won't detain you any longer." he said, still smiling. With these words, he walked away. As soon as he disappeared from view, Cirocco exhaled.

"It's just a guard spot to make sure civilians don't come here, isn't it? That he thinks we can't handle that..." he said, looking after where Silver had left.

"Well, of course he thinks not." Aya answered. "What with that fiasco a few years back... you know how quickly this stuff can happen, right?"

"That only happened once!" Cirocco snapped. "Besides, I survived right?"

"True, but that's why he worries so much." Aya pointed out, smiling teasingly. "He's a bit more caring than certain other commanders."

Cirocco sighed, closing his eyes. "Well, I guess so. I just wish he'd have some faith in us..." he mumbled. Aya just chuckled.
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The Corruptors

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