ALPHA OMEGA

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ALPHA OMEGA

Copyright (c) Mark Zeidan

Prologue – Memories

Tempest continued to walk through the field, barefoot the icy cold snow beneath his paws seemed to be of no consequence to him, nor for that matter the wind and its icy chill that continued to blow through his fur chilling the bare skin below...

The darkness of night surrounded him, save for the light of the moon which made the falling snow sparkle a little. He felt numb, both physically and mentally now as he looked up above at the snow falling gently down all around him, gazing at if transfixed by each speck of snow, noting the detail and intricacy of each one.

The memories he had of earlier years where he had played in the snow with his friends on many a snow day as a youthful pup seemed so far away now, torn apart by those fateful events a few years back, his mind plagued as to what ifs and whys which he knew he would never find an answer to...

He no longer felt the cold, his thoughts blocked out everything else around him now, his heart somehow telling him that soon he would have the opportunity to right the wrong which had been inflicted on those he most loved and held dear to his heart...

He must have stood there for most of the night, simply watching the heavens above him, seemingly lost in the beauty of the view before him.

“Why?” He mumbled to himself, gazing longingly at the moon above him, fists clenching a little as he waited for a response seemingly from nowhere…

It seemed so simple a question, and yet somehow the answer evaded him time and time again. It felt as if even the wind was silent, refusing to sate his need for someone or something to heed his call.

His gaze remained fixed on the moon as the snow continued to fall around him, a tear forming in one eye as again he cried out to the stars above “WHY….?”

He stood there silently for a moment, listening out for even the faintest of replies in the distance, knowing no answer would come but deep inside hoping that one would be given.

Time seemed to stand still as he stood there, eventually snapping out of it he wiped away the solitary tear and headed back through the forest to his car, looking up one last time to the skies above him before getting in and slowly driving away back to the city below.

“It never gets any easier, but I won’t give up” he told himself, clenching the steering wheel hard as he continued on his way.

********************

Chapter One – Just another day?

The morning seemed to arrive quicker than he expected, the morning sun shining through the window and gently waking him up as it crept across the room gradually. With a sigh he turned over and leant on one elbow, trying hard to open his eyes but struggling with the bright rays of light pouring into the room.

Tempest lay there in bed, looking out of the window at the view down below on the streets, watching with curiosity the busy commuters already fighting their way to another day at the office. From the window he could see most of the city, which in itself was impressive seeing as most locals only got to see the walls of the other buildings around them.

In that respect he counted himself lucky that he had gotten the room before anyone else, the view at least gave him some feeling of space and freedom despite the claustrophobic feeling the majority of the city seemed to give out…

He sighed as his alarm then leapt up in the air and repeated its monotonous beeping over and over in its efforts to awaken him, reminding him that there was no time for idleness. With a deep sigh he turned off the alarm and pulled himself out of bed, heading towards the bathroom to try and awaken his senses.

Looking at himself in the mirror he sighed as he saw the redness of his eyes, clearly giving away the fatigue which he had built up from the night before.

“I really should get more sleep…” he muttered to himself below slumping into the shower, hoping the that would at least revive him a little from his lethargic state, turning on the nearby radio to see if anything of interest was happening for once.

He slowly began to freshen up, the flow of water soothing his tired fur as he gradually woke from his slumber, finishing off and getting out before he again fell into a dreamlike state; showers seemed to have a nasty tendency of eating up time if he wasn’t careful… Drying himself off he began trying to straighten his fur seemingly in vain at first, slowly managing to untangle it and smoothen it out as the natural shine slowly kicked in from his efforts.

Most of the time he took pride in his appearance, for a 24 year old wolf he was fairly tall, just under six feet with pure black fur from head to toe, save for a white patch on his neck and chest which fluffed out wildly and a small zig-zagged white patch on his right arm.

The rays of sunlight reflected off his glossy fur, using the opportunity to check himself over before getting dressed. He was fairly well-toned body from the training regime they now subjected him to when on duty, but compared to the other guys in the team he seemed fairly small; years of practice and routine had obviously made their mark on them; he wondered what he would look like had he been there for more than a few years.

Tempest continued to tidy himself up, working hard to ensure that his spiky hairstyle was at its best, each spike raised aloft high in the air, making him look a little taller than normal. “It’s a good job they don’t impose military style haircuts” he muttered under his breath as he headed back to his room and kitted himself up in the standard issue commando gear; a light flak jacket with all the technology packed within the pockets, standard issue commando pants and a pair of tough yet amazingly comfortable boots considering his broad footpaws.

He glanced at his watch and realised he was running a little late; it was time to head down to HQ for their next briefing, something he never looked forward to; he never liked being kept in suspense for so long and they loved to abuse that fact on many an occasion, much to his frustration.

“I wonder what they’ve got for us this time to keep us on our toes” he asked himself sarcastically as he headed out, breaking through the morning traffic, eventually reaching the HQ in the central zone of the city.

*****

The base was a hive of activity as always, full of officers and clerks who seemed to be more than happy to run around all day processing paperwork and making sure that their uniform was looking in top shape instead of worrying about anything important.

Tempest sighed and headed down one of the many long corridors, absently watching everyone busily working away at things he’d never understand nor want to for that matter, making his way to a nearby drinks machine, hoping to find something to give him a quick pick-me-up for the long day ahead.

“Hey Tempest! You made it!”

Tempest’s ears perked up at the sound of his team mate Striker, a young but spirited red fox who he had known ever since he joined the defence forces; for someone of his size and age his skill and agility was unmatched by many at the academy, his small frame hiding his abilities well, which often seemed to give him an edge over his enemies as more often than not they’d write him off before he’d even thrown a single punch.

His skill ultimately earned him a place on the team, a decision which initially was criticised heavily before his efforts silenced the critics with ease, mission after mission being completed with a cool professional class many of his piers had yet to ascend to. It seemed like every mission that fox had been at his side covering his back and keeping an eye out for him; on top of that he was also great fun to be with and certainly helped nullify the monotony of training and the like.

The fox smiled a little as he continued to make his way up the corridor towards him “Glad you could make it, thought I was going solo today”

Tempest smiled back and continued to make himself a small cup of tea; he’d never liked the dulled taste the machine seemed to give everything but right now all he was thinking of was getting that quick caffeine boost to get him through the imminent briefing.

“Well I can’t let you have all the fun, at this rate you’ll be running the show in a few months” Tempest calmly retorted, grinning a little as he played up the fox’s recent achievements.

“He he, well I guess you never know, anyway what do you think they have planned for us today?” Striker stuttered out, a little thrown by the compliment; his modesty was admirable considering the expectations everyone had of him.

Sipping slowly at the hot cup in his paw, Tempest started to walk further down the corridor with Striker by his side. “You know it’s hard to tell, they seem pretty nervous these days, our guys in intel must have something they don’t want everyone to know about just yet…”

“Perhaps if you two got on with it and got to the briefing you’d find out…”

They both stopped and turned around to see who had decided to join in their conversation, a small smile appearing on his face once more as he saw it was Eclipse, another member of the team and another close friend.

She was a young blue fox, a few years younger than Tempest and simply put beautiful in every way as far as he was concerned. They’d known each other since he was just a young pup and for what seemed like an eternity he’d always tried to be her protector, acting like a big brother for her ever since she lost her family all those years ago…

They were close, but so far Tempest’s insecurity with relationships had held him back from taking things any further with her; none the less he knew that at some point he’d work up the nerve to do something about it…

For now though he realised he’d been admiring a little too much, again seemingly hypnotised by those deep blue eyes, jolting himself back to reality as his previously cool persona went out the window, the remainder of his tea spilling onto the floor below him as he tried to refocus.

“You OK Tempest?” Eclipse giggled as she watched his panicked actions.

“Er, yeah, I’m fine… just slipped that’s all…” Tempest cursed under his breath as he finished off cleaning up the mess and straightening himself out, taking a deep breath as he puffed out his chest and tried to regain his cool and relaxed appearance once more.

“Well in that case let’s get to the briefing, something serious is up and you know they don’t like anyone to be late, especially for briefings…” Striker hastily commented as he started to make his way again, heading for the briefing room nearby.

“Yeah, let’s go Eclipse, best see what they have in store for us this time” Tempest hastily pursued the red fox, trying to give himself some more time to regain his composure before the briefing began.

Eclipse smiled to herself and followed them in, her tail swaying lightly as she watched the two of them keep going, eventually reaching one of the doors and disappearing from view.

“Those two will never change…”

********************

Chapter Two – It begins

“Is everyone here? Well then let’s get started.”

Tempest sat down next to Striker as the Commander started his usual pacing in front of them, the elder stout husky eyeing them over as he mentally checked off everyone who was present, a couple of times grumbling to himself as he noted the absence of one or two people.

Everyone seemed relaxed as always, chatting away happily to each other as they caught up on the latest gossip, that was of course until the Commander suddenly threw his fist down on the table beside him, causing it to buckle a little under the force, a few of the younger pups snapping to attention as everyone went silent, sensing now was not a good time to follow up on such trivial matters…

“We all awake now? Good. I know it’s earlier than usual for a mission briefing but something’s come up and we don’t have time for any laziness!”

Tempest watched the Commander with intrigue - for someone so old (at least to him anyway) he seemed extremely pumped up about something, the frantic waving of his tail an easy give away and not something he would usually do…

Tempest’s ears perked up a little as he waited to find out what was wrong, his own tail swaying a little as he sensed a little fear in the way the Commander was acting…

“Perhaps you can tell those of us who are awake what’s up then Blitz” Tempest calmly stated, hoping he could ease the tension a little.

The Commander growled a little and nodded, before heading to the screen behind him and turning it on. Tempest smiled a little at the reaction; anyone else would have received an earful by now for calling him anything else but Commander, but for some reason he continued to get a little slack, probably because they’d known each other for so long…

The commander began his brief, tail still swaying nervously as he looked up at the screen, “Our Intel in the A.E.D. (Allied Earth Defences) has reported a large vessel landing in the Sahara zone, just before midnight local time”

The officers present sat up a little in their seats as the screen projected a large object on the map, a few shifting nervously as they tried to work out what the details of the ship from the satellite photos displayed before them.

“We don’t know who or what it is, but it could be a serious threat and I need a scout team to head down there ASAP and find out what it is” the Commander barked, obviously just as unsure as everyone from the level of information he was providing compared to the usual mission briefs they received.

“You’re going to need more than a scout team for what you’ll find when you get there…”

A voice from the back of the room suddenly spoke up as everyone turned around to see a large dragon walk towards the Commander, his stride confident as he stood next to him and stood with a confident pose and smile, seemingly enjoying the attention he now had from the rest of the room.

“Well if you know something we don’t I’d rather you told us than keep the suspense up Inferno” exclaimed the Commander in reaction, obviously eager to know what the smug dragon knew.

Tempest smiled a little as he watched the two of them up front; Inferno was easily a good couple of feet taller than Commander Blitz and considerably more well built too, the dark red of his scales against the blackness of his chest showing off his powerful form very effectively. This of course was much to the Dragon’s satisfaction, especially at the gym where he was starting to build up a decent fan base of young female officers, eager to try and find out more about the mysterious lizard.

“It’s simple Commander, he’s arrived.” Inferno simply replied.

“Who has arrived? You’re making no sense now…” the Commander blurted out, his frustration now showing visibly.

“Armageddon.”

The whole room stared at Inferno curiously, many unaware of what on earth he was going on about, but a few looking nervously at them once more, especially Tempest and Striker who could clearly see the look of horror on the Commander’s face…

Tempest stayed silent; in all his years with the Commander he had never seen him so afraid of something, especially as in his former years the veteran husky had been on missions so extreme that many had never even dared to even think about them, let alone take them on; something was very, very wrong…

Inferno turned around and pointed to the screen, coolly providing more details to those who were still clueless as to the situation at hand.

“The image on screen is one of his scout ships; within 24 hours his troops will move out, take control of the region and use it as a landing zone for the rest of their fleet. Once they have done that they will move out and initiate a full assault on each country, moving continent by continent, taking over ever inch of the earth until they have wiped out all threats and have full control of the planet’s resources.”

The room fell into a stunned silence; surely he was joking now, there was no way that there could be such a potent threat appearing so suddenly without any warning whatsoever.

“How on earth do you know all this Inferno?” a voice spoke up weakly.

Inferno looked away for a moment before facing them all once again, a more sullen appearance on his face than before, “It’s exactly what they did when they destroyed my home-world a few years back, I’m the last survivor…”

Striker stood up and slammed his fist into the wall next to him, obviously worked up from the situation at hand, “But that’s crazy! Why on earth would they do that?”

“Power. Armageddon craves it and will do anything to get more; no planet he has come across has evaded his wrath and destruction, no civilisation he has encountered has not been eradicated by his forces, no army which has faced him has not been slaughtered, his troops show no mercy to their enemies for fear that they will be killed just as mercilessly by him if they should ever hesitate to do his bidding.”

“Striker, take it easy, we’re not going to get anywhere if we get worked up about this.” Tempest calmly stated, standing up and moving up to the front as well to stand next to Inferno, placing a paw on his broad shoulder before moving towards the Commander.

“We need to stop them before they can get a foothold of any sort; Inferno if you have anything else you can tell us then we need to know now” Tempest looked over to the Commander, waiting for him to calculate a strategy for them to adopt now the truth was known to all.

Inferno looked back at Tempest with a wry smile, sensing the wolf’s determination to make sure that Earth was not just another victim of Armageddon’s wrath, relaxing a little as he returned to the screen to analyse the Intel footage.

“Well perhaps we could disable the scout ship, that would give us some time to rally our troops for a full out assault before they bring in the full armada… it’s never been tried before but if we can pull it off we’ll give ourselves a chance of beating them”

Tempest moved up closer to the screen, trying to work out the best way of infiltrating the vessel, squinting hard to make out the details of the ship.

“Well we’ll need a way to take down the whole ship, it seems too large to attack externally… looks like we’ll need to get inside and hope we can find their engine core and blow that up, that should set off a chain reaction to take it down in one go…” the Commander spoke up, obviously thinking out loud.

“I guess so, but we’d need a small team to get in un-noticed…” Tempest replied hesitantly, a gut feeling telling him that this would be a lot harder than they were making it out to be so far…

“Well then, it’s settled. We don’t have time to build up more Intel and I can’t see any other options anyway, at least not until we have the troops ready to go… Tempest, you and your team will move out and take that scout ship down, meanwhile we’ll prepare things here, hopefully you’ll buy us enough time for us to get deployed and ready.”

Tempest looked up and panicked a little, “What? Just the five of us?”

“I know it’s a lot to ask Tempest, but I can’t think of anyone else more capable of handling this mission…” the Commander looked up at him and smiled weakly, his paw shaking a little as he put it on Tempest’s shoulder as he realised that he may be sending him out for the last time - The difficulty of such a mission, especially with so little Intel to work was something that had rarely been done before and to date rarely had a happy ending to say the least…

Tempest sighed a little to himself before looking back at the Commander with a reassuring smile “Well then, we’d best get kitted up and ready…”

“Let’s go team, time’s against us already…” he made his way out of the room, heading towards the armoury as Inferno and Striker followed him, Eclipse hesitantly walking behind them, seemingly lost in thought as she watched them go, her tail nervously twitching as something deep inside her gave her a sense of foreboding.

“Well what are you all waiting for? Get out there and prepare the troops now!” the Commander shouted at the remaining troops, watching them jolt to life as they rushed out the room to carry out their orders.

He sighed once more as he was finally left alone in the room, staring at the screen once more as he took a sip of his tea, mentally cursing as he realised it had gone cold in all of the commotion.

“Good luck Tempest…”

********************

Chapter Three - Preparations

“This is crazy! You really think we can just walk in and take them down?”

Striker continued to barrage Tempest with rhetorical questions, one after another as he vented his fury at being thrown into such an arduous mission; this was certainly not something he’d been taken through in training or in the planned missions he’d been involved with until now…

It was as if he was a little scared; for someone who showed such courage and determination on a battle field he seemed a little off-guard now.

Tempest stopped for a moment and placed his paws on both of Striker’s shoulders, holding him steady as he looked him directly in the eyes, pausing a moment until the young fox had gotten himself together and was looking back at him fully.

“Everything will be fine Striker, relax OK? We’ve handled much more complicated situations that this before and you know that…” Tempest calmly stated, again trying to keep composed and ensure that the youngster felt more confident about their chances of pulling the mission off.

Striker sighed a little before taking a deep breath and smiling back at Tempest, “You’re right Tempest, I guess I should cut down on the coffee eh?”

Tempest chuckled and then let Striker free of his hold, patting him on the back with a firm paw as he again continued down the corridor.

“Young kits like you should stay off the coffee completely, it seems to make you a bit hyper…”

Striker stared in mock surprise at Tempest before chuckling to himself a little, comforted by the light-hearted attitude he displayed despite the grave situation at hand.

“Well I guess sometime I could try that ‘tea’ of yours too…”

Tempest turned back and smiled at Striker as he reached a large door, entering a code on the control panel as he waited for Eclipse and Inferno to regroup with them.

“As soon as we get back I’ll make you a cup of the finest blend of tea I have my friend, before you know it you’ll be hooked.”

Striker grinned a little as he looked around to see Eclipse and Inferno arrive.

“Heh, we’ll see Tempest, one step at a time OK?”

They all walked into the large room one by one; the armoury was extremely high tech compared to the rest of the base, a vast array of weaponry lined up on the walls, all ready for testing on the extensive firing range which spanned most of the room.

“Ah, you’re all here I see, it’s about time Tempest I was getting lonely…”

Tempest turned around to see Enigma, a young tigress whose vibrant fur colours and markings showed off her voluptuous form so well; the dazzling blue, orange and yellow mixing together superbly while the shine of her fur was impeccable, probably from the many hours she spent grooming herself to make sure she looked her best at all times.

For a smallish tigress of around 5’6”, she was fairly well built which only seemed to accentuate the curves of her body further, as well as those often mesmerising breasts which seemed to beckon you to her…

It was at this point Tempest realised he was admiring a little too much and snapped himself to attention, calmly nudging Striker and Inferno either side to him who also seemed to have been caught in the same position of simply admiring.

“Then again,” Tempest told himself, “it’s not often that you see a tigress wearing such a tight uniform while brandishing a large energy cannon with such finesse and grace is it?”

Eclipse watched them all and sighed as she walked over to the hand-arms section, looking for a suitable one to use.

“Honestly… you’d think they hadn’t seen a tigress before…”

Enigma purred a little as she made her way over to them, focussing her attention on Inferno who looked down at her and seemed to blush under those scales of his, suddenly folding his arms and pressing his chest out firmly to show off his powerful physique and hide the lapse in his usually cool appearance.

Grinning she continued towards them, her feline body swaying to and fro in what could only be described as a seductive fashion; many a time she’d caused an accident or two while making her way around the base, simply because there were so many young officers who couldn’t take their eyes off of her, often leading to a few collisions between fellow officers or those ever so friendly walls or poles which often seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…

“Well I read the brief from the Commander, seems we need to get you boys tooled up, hmm?” She smiled again, her fangs showing a little as she put down the cannon and moved up to Inferno, looking up at him as he continued to stand his ground, refusing to show any emotion or reaction to her now obvious flirting.

Tempest sighed with relief as the focus of affection moved away from him, allowing him to concentrate on the task at hand as he joined Eclipse at the hand-arms section and picked up the semi-automatic plasma rifle, checking it over before holstering it on his back.

“Well we’ll just pick out what we need, we need you to prepare the body armour ASAP, we move out in less than an hour…”

Enigma looked over at Tempest and pouted at him a little, her tail swaying slowly with disappointment.

“Aw, do we have to? I was just about to tease the big bad dragon here…”

She giggled before pressing a paw onto his firm chest and running it up and down slowly, purring loudly as her claws extended and ran over each scaled muscle teasingly, watching with delight as Inferno started to buckle, his cool persona rapidly falling apart at her touch.

“Enigma…” Tempest looked over at her with a sterner look than before, trying to emphasise the urgency.

She looked back at him and sighed before running her claws rapidly up Inferno’s chest again, causing him to flinch at the sensations, before she walked away slowly.

“OK Tempest, I’m going, I’ll just have to make up for it later…”

She looked over her shoulder at Inferno and winked at him, licking her lips lightly as she swayed a little more than usual, grinning widely at Inferno as he astutely watched her every step of the way.

Striker slowly walked up and stood next to Tempest before proceeding to equip himself with two large automatic plasma rifles, more than enough firepower between them for the fox to take on anything that came his way.

“Those two really need to get a room you know…”

Tempest smiled and grinned a little, “You know it’s all Enigma so far, Inferno has a hard time opening up like that…”

Striker laughed out a little before covering his muzzle to try and silence himself, Inferno giving them a stern look before making his way to the combat arms section, tail swaying furiously behind him to show his annoyance.

Tempest smiled back at him before walking over to the combat arms section, slowly moving up to Inferno as he checked over the selection of swords and daggers before them.

Most of the troops stuck to firearms nowadays, but they had an affinity to swords and their mystique; with all the energy weapons going around it seemed odd to many for someone to want to use something as ancient as a sword to take on their foes, but Tempest’s and Inferno’s swordsmanship had often silenced the critics in that respect, even converted a few of the newer officers as well along the way to adopt them as at least a secondary weapon for close combat.

“Seems Enigma has a soft spot for you big guy…” Tempest quietly commented as he looked over the display before them.

Inferno growled a little before picking up a large thick blade, made from a powerful alloy that blackened the metal deeply to the point that it blended well with his darker scales, holding it up and swinging it furiously a few times.

“We have no time for such trivial things now Tempest, you know that…”

Tempest smiled to himself as he picked up his own sword and checked it over slowly, “I guess so…”

Tempest decided to leave Inferno to it, attaching the sword’s holster to his back next to the plasma rifle as he pulled the sword out and admired it; for something so simple as a piece of metal it was an amazing design, at least to him anyway.

The blade curved a little like those used by the samurai of many years ago in a time long forgotten by many, the handle so firm yet comfortable, laden in soft red ribbons, the blade so sharp it could cut through metal with ease, the metal shining brightly as a result of many years of care and attention which he had lavished upon it.

That sword has been with him all his life; he was too young to remember when he had actually first been given it, all he knew was that it previously had been his fathers sword, handed down to him for some reason when he was too young to hold it, yet alone wield it in combat, the engraved markings along the blade laid out as if to indicate some message which someday he hoped to be able to work out somehow…

“Tempest?”

He turned around to see Eclipse standing next to him, all kitted up and ready to go as she held his hand and pulled him a little closer. She seemed worried, those deep blue eyes grabbing his attention immediately.

“What’s up Eclipse?” Tempest leaned his head a little, curious as to what had been bugging her so much.

She paused a little before holding his paw tighter, “I’m worried about this Tempest, something seems wrong…”

Tempest smiled back at her, before giving her a soft embrace, trying to comfort her as he looked down into her eyes and smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry Eclipse, I won’t let anything happen to us OK? Things will work out alright in the end…”

Eclipse smiled back at him weakly before she nodded and let go of his paw, not wanting to question his continual optimism. She then quietly made her way to the other team members, who by now were fully equipped and ready to go.

Tempest slowly slid the sword back into its holster on his back and marched over to them, tail swaying a little as the adrenalin rush started to kick in.

“Well it’s time to go team, let’s not disappoint our unexpected guests...”

********************

Chapter 4 – Destination: Sahara Zone

The team made their way to the main hangar, a hive of activity as the troops prepared themselves for the imminent conflict that awaited them, a few of the younger officers again showing a little nervousness as they went about their business.

They continued to check the planes over thoroughly, running various diagnostics on them, while others loaded them up with fuel or ammo carefully so that they were ready to go at any moment.

Tempest made his way to a small transporter which appeared compact yet streamlined in design; obviously one of the newer stealth craft which had been made for such situations where a little indiscretion was required. It certainly wasn’t built to impress though, the black matte paintjob making it look a little worn, although he knew that appearances could often be deceiving…

“Tempest! Sir! Everything’s ready for you to depart, sir!”

He looked around to see a couple of soldiers behind him who had obviously been working on making sure their craft was ready. He smiled at them as they stood to attention and awaited his response.

“At ease guys, we’ll take it from here… thanks.”

The soldiers nodded in acknowledgement and then marched off side by side to the next plane which needed their attention, their tails even swaying in sync with each other he noted as he chuckled to himself.

“They need to relax just a little; they must be new recruits…”

Tempest opened the main door of the transporter and looked around as the rest of the team arrived with their gear, a few of the officers nearby turning their heads as they watched them load up and prepare to leave.

“You think we’ve got everything Enigma?”

She looked over at Tempest and grinned confidently, her tail swaying a little as she stood up and walked over to him.

“Ready as we’ll ever be Tempest, let’s just go and get this done OK? I’m losing out on quality time with my sweet draggy because of this…”

She turned around and giggled as she saw Inferno blush once again, which was actually hard for a dragon to do normally, although her teasing was obviously working to maximum effect now.

“Enigma, let’s focus on the mission now OK? You can spend some quality time your “sweet draggy” later…” Tempest motioned with his fingers as if to make brackets as he quoted her terminology, grinning as this only seemed to amplify Inferno’s embarrassment, a few of the officers listening in and quietly containing their amusement so as not to annoy him any further.

She smiled and nodded to him before climbing into the carrier and taking her seat, the flirtatious attitude finally fading as she focussed on the mission at hand.

“Well, it’s about time we got going I think…”

Tempest looked around to check everything was in order before climbing into the craft as well, taking up one of the pilot seats as he checked everything over, carefully adjusting his headset so as not to mess up those spikes of his; he wasn’t being vain, he just knew the hair gel would cause problems later if he wasn’t too careful…

Eclipse giggled as she sat next to him and watched as he struggled with the headset, eventually finding a comfortable angle to wear it at before sitting back and strapping himself in, looking a little flustered from making such a fuss out of something so trivial.

Tempest looked back at her to see her calmly continuing her work, activating the engines as she continued to run through the take off procedure, her tail swaying happily behind her before she coolly looked over at Tempest and gave him a gentle smile.

“Hey Tempest, we going now or what?” Striker shouted out as he wriggled around in his seat a little.

“Easy now Striker, you’ll burn up all your energy before we get there at this rate!” Tempest calmly retorted as he took hold of the controls and guided them slowly out of the hangar. The large doors opened before them gradually, sunlight pouring into the hangar more and more as they did so.

A few of the officers covered their eyes as they watched them make their way to the runway, temporarily pausing from their work as they watched curiously.

“Everything ready Eclipse?” Tempest calmly queried her as he charged up the engines and checked the co-ordinates for their destination one more time.

“We’re all OK Tempest, clear skies all the way it seems…” she calmly replied as she sat back and checked the readings once again to verify it.

Tempest smiled and nodded as he started the thrusters, the whole craft shaking a little at the power as they rapidly accelerated up the runway, the force being generated by the engines impressive as before they knew it they were in the air and speeding to their destination.

“Well that wasn’t too bad now was it?” Tempest playfully said as he unbuckled his straps and turned on the autopilot, looking around to see Enigma snuggled up in Inferno’s lap, clinging to him tightly, her tail wrapped around him as much as possible.

“Cl… claws…. Enigmaaaaa…..” Inferno twitched a little as he said it, obviously in a little pain but trying not to show it to maintain his tough outward appearance to the rest of the team.

Enigma looked up at him and meowed as she lifted up her paws, her claws sliding back into them as she released her tight grip on him and blushed a little.

“Oh sorry sweetie, I guess I got a little scared during take off…” she purred a little and started to paw at the claw marks, Tempest and Striker looking a little nervous as they imagined what damage she would have done to them had they been her target instead...

Inferno grumbled a little and picked her up and set her down beside him, rubbing over the small claw marks left on his scales as he got up and walked over to his sword, sitting beside it as he start to wipe it down in preparation for their arrival at the scout ship.

Tempest placed a paw on her shoulder, waiting for her to turn around and look up at him. “Are you OK Enigma? You don’t usually do that…”

She smiled a little and purred happily, “I don’t usually have a big bad dragon to tease either…”

Tempest smiled widely back at her before heading over to Striker and started to prepare his weapons and gear for the mission; at the speed they were moving at it wouldn’t take more than a few hours to get there he thought to himself.

*****

Eclipse moved over to Enigma and sat beside her, both of them watching the guys suiting up and checking over their equipment time and time again, obviously wanting to keep themselves busy until they got there.

“So you’ve got the hots for our scaly friend then eh?” Eclipse curiously asked Enigma, wanting to spark a little conversation to kill the time.

She smiled a little, still watching him as she replied, “Well he seems so dark and mysterious, it’s so appealing to me somehow, I can’t explain it, it’s like there’s so much more to him than we could ever imagine…”

Eclipse smiled at her and continued, “So how’s he taking it then? Will we finally see you settle down and have those kittens you want so badly?”

Enigma purred at the thought, “Someday soon, I hope…”

She looked over at Inferno thoughtfully, Eclipse watching her do so before placing an arm around her and holding her a little closer. “I’m sure you’ll get your chance soon Enigma, but we’d best make sure we get through this first hmm?”

Enigma turned back and looked her in the eyes, smiling as she gave her a quick hug and then stood up, getting herself suited up for the mission.

“Hopefully I’ll get my chance soon too…” Eclipse muttered to herself as she watched Tempest and Striker chatting away as they finished off their preparations, getting up slowly as she started to kit herself up as well.

*****

Several hours seemed to pass and go in moments, before they knew it they had arrived and could see the scout ship far in the distance as they prepared to land nearby, its size intimidating even from their view point several miles away.

Tempest took out a pair of high power binoculars, checking over the surrounding area for threats and a possible way in. The ship itself was a strange one, various markings all over its hull, its appearance slightly spherical except for the grounding pads which held it still. He also noted various tunnels and vents which seemed to be protruding from below it to the ground below.

He zoomed in and saw several soldiers walking around the perimeter of the ship, obviously keeping an eye out for anything suspicious despite the remote desert location.

He was surprised a little to see a mix of species marching around, wolves, dragons, foxes, tigers and all sorts of species he had never even seen before...

“Armageddon’s army is full of the best troops taken from previous conquests, you won’t see his own home-grown troops on such a scout ship I would have thought…” Inferno answered before Tempest could even ask his inevitable question in the first place.

Tempest nodded and handed the binoculars to him while he sat down and thought carefully about what to do next.

“It’s getting dark, also looks like there’s going to be a storm sweeping over the region tonight, we’ll have to use it to our advantage and break in while their visibility is low…”

Striker looked at Tempest and nodded in agreement. “Looks as if we’ve a little luck on our side this time Tempest, but how are we going to do this?”

Tempest continued to think about the details, the rest of them silent as they waited, before Tempest looked up at them all once more.

“Inferno and myself will sneak in while the storm is in progress, head to their engine room and set off all the explosives; meanwhile the rest of you will spread out to the nearby cliffs and provide cover fire for our escape. If we all go in and get caught its game over, I at least want you three to be able to move in and finish the job should we fail…”

Inferno smiled a little and stood up, flexing powerfully as he psyched himself up. “Sounds good to me Tempest, let’s do it.”

Striker nodded, obviously a little disappointed not to be heading in himself but happy with the plan none the less, while the girls also nodded in agreement at the plan.

“Well it’s not as if we know what we’re going to find in there yet is it? We can always move in if things get a little too close for comfort…” Eclipse calmly stated.

Tempest nodded in response before looking back out towards their target, while the others discussed between themselves various ideas as to how they could handle their roles in the plan effectively.

He looked it over once again, thinking hard as he looked over the structure’s details, his tail wagging nervously behind him as he did so, as if the view before him was sparking some suppressed memory from his youth.

“Why do I feel like I’ve seen this before?”

********************

Chapter 5 – Infiltration

The desert was calm, the soft red sands covered in darkness as the team slowly made their way to a high sand dune near to the scout ship. Each one of them was fully equipped and wore body armour all over their bodies, their high power energy weapons locked and loaded ready to take on anything that might get in their way.

Tempest and Inferno crouched down and looked over the nearby area below them, their swords also strapped to their backs, guns holstered at their sides as they worked out their entrance to the ship before the storm clouds swept over their position.

“It seems as if they’re not expecting any visitors, looks like there’s several air vents we could pick from to sneak in easily enough…” Inferno commented as he looked over the exterior.

“A little cliché but I guess that will do fine, one near the back perhaps would be suitable I’d have thought, they must all link together eventually anyway…” Tempest replied, his tail waving in the air as the wind started to pick up, the storm slowly building as the storm clouds approached.

Tempest crawled over to the rest of the team, Striker, Eclipse and Enigma all watching him with intent as he prepared to give them their orders.

“One hour. If the ship isn’t destroyed by that time you know what to do…”

Eclipse winced a little at the coldness of Tempest’s orders, but she knew that right now there wasn’t much else he could say; if they failed things could end up being a lot harder for the rest of their troops, especially if the enemy was able to build a foothold in the region.

They all nodded in agreement before Striker and Enigma moved up to higher positions to get a good viewpoint, leaving Eclipse and Tempest together still.

“Be careful Tempest…” she smiled weakly and looked him deeply in the eyes, trying to remain calm as she said it.

Tempest smiled in return as he gazed into her eyes, watching as the moonlight simply reflected into them more and more as they filled with tears, noting her lips quivering a little as she tried to hold her emotions back.

He wrapped his paws around her, holding her close as he tried to comfort her, holding back his own emotions as much as he could as she pressed close to his chest and nuzzled a little, wishing this was all over and she could just stay in his arms forever.

"It'll be alright Eclipse, I promise..." she looked up at him as he said it, nodding weakly as she kissed him on the side of his muzzle before finally letting go of him and moving into position, wiping away her tears as she lay atop a nearby sand dune.

She looked back at him once she was in place, her face sullen as he moved back to Inferno, noting the storm clouds in the distance gathering pace as they neared their location.

“Shouldn’t be long now…” Inferno mumbled quietly as he moved slowly towards the back of the ship, Tempest following closely, keeping an eye out for any guards along the way.

They stayed low as the wind picked up suddenly once more, the storm now getting into full flow as the guards moved closer to the ship, trying to seek some shelter as the sand flew into the air and reduced the visibility dramatically, as if someone had suddenly thrown a blanket over their eyes.

Tempest heard some muffled shouts from the guards to head back inside, nudging Inferno as they stood up and look at the ship once more.

“We’d best get inside before they close all the vents Inferno…”

He nodded back as Inferno started to run towards the ship, Tempest close in pursuit. They reached the edge of it before climbing into a convenient vent nearby and slowly and surely making their way through it. The storm had caught the guards by surprise, so far the plan was working well, hopefully it was going to continue like that as far as Tempest was concerned…

*****

Striker lay atop the high sand dune, watching them all the way as he checked his guns over time and time again, his tail twitching, eager for action and obviously worked up at not being part of the action.

“I hope he’s got a damn good reason for keeping me out here, he must be expecting some fierce backlash from this or something to have me on standby…”

He grumbled away to himself as he looked over at Enigma and Eclipse, Enigma happily looking around the perimeter of the ship for any potential threats, while Eclipse seemed more focussed on watching Tempest & Inferno’s progress.

“Hmm, I wonder if Tempest’s actually made a move on her yet? I need to work on that wolf’s confidence when we get back to base…”

Meanwhile Eclipse watched them as they continued, her goggles showing their progress clearly throughout as they moved into the ship, sighing a little as their signals faded slowly but surely before her goggles’ readings. She looked over to Enigma and Striker as she tried to distract herself from the worry that was now building within her.

“Why didn’t he let us go as well?”

********************

Chapter 6 – Deceit

Inferno made his way through the vents with ease, his smooth scales allowing him to glide through them as Tempest did his best to keep pace, noting several small shutters along the way. He looked throught them and saw large open rooms behind every one, full of enemy troops or combat tanks, all of them running around obviously preparing themselves for their first ground assault.

“Looks like they’re almost ready…” Inferno nodded a little in acknowledgement and continued on, before suddenly stopping and looking back at him once again.

“I think we’ve arrived at our main target…”

Tempest looked back at him curiously; considering they hadn’t been moving through the ship too long they’d already found the engine room – it seems that their luck was extremely good today... not that he was complaining…

“The engine room? Excellent, but let’s work out where we need to hit first before we break in OK?”

Inferno nodded again at Tempest’s suggestion, before pulling out a small set of binoculars and examining the engines in detail.

“I’d say we could hit the core generators, the power that they generate would help amplify the explosives greatly, should allow us to do enough damage to take this place down…”

Tempest nodded back and pulled out a bag of charges, handing them to Inferno. “You take those and work on the other sections of the engine, just in case we’ve underestimated OK?”

Inferno grinned, “As if with this amount of explosives my idea wouldn’t work…”

“Well you never know…” Tempest smiled back as they checked for guards and then opened the vent to the room, noting that it lay directly above the room, a good 20ft up but thankfully nothing they couldn’t handle with a little focus.

“Set the explosives for ten minutes, it didn’t take us long to get here so I don’t expect it to take too long to get back out…” he stated as he jumped down and landed on the hard metal floor, rolling a few times to absorb the impact, unholstering his gun as he looked around for any signs of the enemy, a little surprised at the lack of any guards as he nodded for Inferno to jump down.

Tempest got to work on setting the charges on the engines, keeping an eye on Inferno as he proceeded to do the same, both of them finishing fairly quickly as they regrouped in the middle of the room.

“OK, now let’s get out of here before they find out…”

Suddenly the room lit up, the glare of the lights catching Tempest off guard as he felt a swift kick to his stomach, falling to his knees as he clutched himself and howled a little at the pain.

The lights dimmed a little, Tempest looking around as he noted the balcony area above them suddenly was filled with armed guards, their guns locked onto his position... He looked up to see Inferno grinning a little at him as he pulled out his own gun and pointed it down at him, moving back a little to give himself a safe distance so as to avoid any retaliation from the wolf.

“I think you’ll be staying a lot longer Tempest…”

Tempest turned around to see a large feline shadow walking over to him, before suddenly the lights dimmed a little, allowing him to see the tiger better; his fur black all over with blue stripes littering his arms and sides, his hair style spiked widely in all directions, a bit like Tempest on a bad hair day it seemed…

As he got closer Tempest noted his red eyes glaring back at him coldly as he pulled out his sword, noting it to be similar to Inferno’s.

“Inferno… how could you…”

The large dragon grinned wickedly and kicked Tempest again, sending him reeling as he rolled over and over again, slamming into one of the walls hard, the guards above following his every movement, waiting for any sign of resistance.

The pain was intense, Tempest crying out a little as his body tried its best to handle it, a trail of blood slowly flowing from his muzzle, as he tried his best to cough it up, picking himself up slowly.

“You really think it’d be that easy Tempest? Such a worthless canine, I’m surprised they dared to put you on such a mission in the first place!”

Tempest looked around and tried to work out his options, things were looking very bad, there was no way he could beat them all, escape and destroy the ship now… unless…

Inferno pulled out his sword and walked over to Tempest, preparing to strike him down as he raised it up and cried out “Your world is ours now Tempest! You and your simple minded friends back at the base will fail and there’s nothing you can do to stop us!”

The large tiger moved towards them and pushed Inferno aside, pulling out his own sword as he gave the dragon a stern look.

“This is my ship, he is my prisoner and I will decide what happens to him now, you understand Inferno?”

Inferno scowled at him before moving away and putting away his sword once more, watching as the tiger knelt down before Tempest and lifted him up by his muzzle, his large paw squeezing it forcefully as he lifted him to his feet, all the while grinning at Tempest’s growls of pain.

“Well, Tempest, I’ll give you one chance to kill me, if you can do that then perhaps you’ll have a chance to escape…”

Tempest looked back at him as he tried to refocus, his balance unsteady as he pulled out his sword and tried his best to defend himself.

“What are you doing Chaos?” Inferno asked the large tiger curiously, the guards lowering their weapons as they watched the scene unfold before them.

“I’m playing with my prey, what does it look like you idiot?” Chaos snarled as he readied himself to strike, those eyes seemingly glowing bright as if the scent of death invigorated him.

By now Tempest had managed to regain his breath, knowing he was outmatched but hoping luck was still on his side.

“En garde Tempest, now you will be the first of your world to suffer our wrath!”

The tiger charged at Tempest, all the while laughing maniacally as he swung at him again and again, grinning wider with each dodge the smaller wolf made to his attacks.

“Is that all you’ve got? Pathetic, this planet will be easy to take over…”

Tempest struggled on, tiring quickly from the intense tempo at which the tiger fought with, trying his best to strike back but failing each time as the tiger simply parried his attacks away again and again.

Chaos looked at him and backed away a little, licking his lips as he sensed victory.

“Game over Tempest”

Tempest could only watch in horror as Chaos leaped forward suddenly, his sword piercing through Tempest’s chest, holding his pose as Tempest tried to stay standing, shuddering a little as the shock kicked in. Slowly his paw releasing his sword as it shook violently from the numbness that started to fill him, the loud clang of metal upon metal resonating through the room as the sword hit the ground.

Chaos grinned once more as he pulled the sword out of Tempest, putting away his sword as he watched Tempest slowly fall to his knees, clutching his chest wound tightly.

Tempest’s howl of pain was loud and powerful, the tiger laughing with delight as Tempest placed his paws on the ground, trying to hold himself up defiantly as he tried to speak.

“Ther… there’s one thing you should know… Chaos…” he panted out weakly.

The large tiger looked down at him, an eyebrow lifting a little as he listened.

“And what would that be my defeated foe?”

Tempest looked up at him and grinned. “You have five minutes…”

Chaos scowled at him as he realised what he meant, looking over at Inferno with a burning rage in his eyes. “I thought you disabled the charges Inferno!”

Tempest laughed at their reaction, gasping at the pain as he continued, “I decided… decided to plant charges all over the ship… as we moved through it… each charge can’t be disabled now I’ve set them… including the charges I’ve planted here… I thought that something…. like this would happen… unfortunately it seems… my instincts were correct…..”

Chaos growled loudly as he picked Inferno up and threw him against a nearby wall hard, venting his frustration at the dragon’s apparent incompetence.

“EVERYBODY MOVE OUT, ABANDON SHIP!” the tiger roared up at the guards, his frustration at their plan backfiring evident for all to see.

The guards seemed to panic a little as they hurried to the nearby exists, loud sirens starting to resonate through the ship as they tried to evacuate as quickly as possible, many dropping their weapons to make their escape easier.

As they escaped, Tempest was left for dead in the engine room, collapsed on the floor as he lay still, trying to conserve his energy, but knowing it would do him little good now... No way out, unable to move and with no way of being able to recover from such a fatal wound without urgent medical attention, which he knew was impossible now...

“Eclipse….” the image of her face flooded his mind as he tried desperately to move, failing miserably each time.

He sighed deeply as his head finally hit the ground, his muzzle landing in a pool of his blood which now trickled across the dull metal floor, falling unconscious as he lay in wait for the end, the sirens continuing to blare as the charges readied themselves to blow.

Suddenly they started to detonate as their individual timers kicked in, one explosion after another rocking the ship as each charge set off the next in a chain reaction, destroying everything in the nearby areas instantly.

It didn’t take much longer for the charges attached to the engines to explode, the engines’ power amplifying the effect exponentially as the whole ship suddenly seemed to be torn apart.

The explosions ended by sending powerful shockwaves outwards as Striker, Enigma and Eclipse watched in horror, trying to shield themselves from the huge amounts of debris which was flung their way as a result.

Eclipse stared, her hands shaking wildly, seemingly stunned as she watched the scene of pure destruction unfold before her eyes, shivering at the realisation that Tempest and Inferno were still nowhere to be seen...

“TEMPEST!!!”

********************

Chapter 7 - Aftershocks

There was an eerie silence after the explosions finally died down, the scout ship destroyed completely, a few enemy soldiers crawling away from the remains desperately trying to get to safety.

"Looks like a few escaped somehow..." Striker noted as he checked over the remains of the previously intimidating ship, quietly amazed at the effectiveness of the explosives they had taken with them.

Eclipse and Enigma were still a little dazed by the shockwaves sent out by the explosions, picking themselves up as they looked over the scene of carnage before them, brushing themselves down as they watched Striker charge down towards the enemy.

"Well he's certainly eager, there's only a few who got out so this should be easy enough to wrap up…" Enigma noted as she walked over to Eclipse slowly, casually patting down her fur as she did so.

"W… what's wrong Eclipse?" she whispered as she got closer, noting how the young fox was still clearly shaking as if in shock.

"They didn't make it…" Eclipse replied quietly, "I… I can't find them on the radar…"

Her paws started to shake more as the truth finally kicked in, dropping the radar to the ground as she burst into tears, unable to control her emotions any longer.

Enigma looked back at her, her expression solemn as she took Eclipse in her arms and held her tightly.

"I know Eclipse, I know…" Enigma whispered softly as she stroked her gently, her eyes closed as she tried to comfort Eclipse as much as possible.

*****

"OK! Everyone on the ground with your arms behind you back! DO IT NOW!"

Striker watched over the few enemy soldiers who'd escaped the blast, his rifle charged and ready for any sign of resistance as they slowly complied to his demands, their injuries too limiting for them to resist anyway.

"Now I wonder how long I'm going to have to hold them here, hopefully the Commander will send some support here soon…"

Striker waited patiently as Enigma and Eclipse finally arrived, rifles at the ready as they stood either side of him.

"Sorry sweetie, we had to go over a few things first, looks like you have it all under control anyway…" Enigma chuckled light-heartedly as she looked over the enemy troops lying down before them.

"It's OK Enigma, I take it there's no sign of Tempest or Inferno then?"

Enigma paused for a moment, the moment of light-heartedness gone as she sighed deeply and looked up at him.

"I'm afraid not, seems they were taken out by the explosion as well…"

Striker flinched a little at her answer before steadying himself once more, not wanting to show the enemy any signs of weakness.

"I see… at least they managed to take this thing down though, we even have some prisoners to get more info from too…"

Enigma sighed and sat down beside him, looking over the remains of the ship once more; watching as Eclipse quietly checked it over for any signs of life.

Her ears perked up as she heard the sound of helicopters nearby, turning around sharply as she saw several soldiers climbing over the sand dunes towards them, clearly surprised at the view of utter devastation before them.

"Looks like our ride home has finally arrived, let's get out of here and update the Commander…"

********************

Chapter 8 - Discoveries

"Dead? You're not serious, both of them!?"

The Commander tried to steady himself as he sat down once more at his desk and looked up at Striker, picking up a hot cup of coffee and gulping it down rapidly to try and steady his nerves, clearly concerned.

"With an explosion that large I'm surprised anyone escaped it, something must have gone wrong early on…" Striker continued, his face expressionless as he debriefed the Commander on the mission.

"And yet there were survivors, what's their status?" the Commander queried, his mind clearly plagued with a thousand questions once more.

"All of them are stable, a couple are already being interrogated to see if they can give us any more details on what happened…"

The Commander nodded and stood up once more, moving towards Striker and placing a paw on his shoulder.

"Very well, you should all take it easy for a while; hopefully our captives will talk without too much provocation."

Striker nodded and walked out the room, heading towards Enigma and Eclipse before relaying the Commander's instructions, the three of them slowly walking away down the corridor to their quarters.

Commander Blitz watched them for a while before he returned to his desk, filing through several papers and pulling out the report, looking it over as he took his coffee and sipped it carefully.

"You warned them didn't you Tempest? There's no way anyone could have escaped from such a blast otherwise, but why?"

He continued to read through the report, the room silent as the Commander tried to piece together what information he had been given so far, breathing heavily as he focussed on the details he had been given so far.

"Something here doesn't make sense, but what?"

He got up and took another cup of coffee from the machine before picking up the report and going over it once more, pausing as he reached a photo of Tempest among the papers.

"Tempest…"

Suddenly the Commander train of thought was broken by a loud knock at his door; taking a deep breath he looked up to see a younger officer waiting eagerly to speak with him, putting the report down for a moment as he beckoned them in.

"What is it? This had better be important boy…"

The young pup looked back at him nervously as he stood to attention, taking a deep breath as he remembered the reason for his visit.

"One of the enemy prisoners has already cracked it seems and has given us some very interesting information Commander… it all checks out on the lie detection system as well… they want you down in the interrogation room as soon as possible…" he blurted out rapidly.

"Already? Well this is interesting, tell them I'll be there in five." The Commander barked back at him, watching as the officer saluted and marched out the room promptly.

Taking another cup of coffee, he sipped at it lightly as he filed away the papers slowly, clearly deep in thought.

"I'd best get down there and see what they have to say for themselves…"

*****

"Impossible… they can't be serious…"

The elderly fox looked back at him and sighed a little, "I've already told you several times Commander, he's not lying about it; in fact he doesn't seem to be too reluctant to help us out either…"

"Regardless I still don't believe it…" the Commander continued, obviously surprised to say the least at the news they had just received.

"But sir, we've now had it confirmed some of the other prisoners as well, Inferno was on their side all along and Tempest is…"

The fox paused suddenly, looking over at Striker, Enigma and Eclipse, their expressions simply of shock as they listened to the conversation, deciding now was not a good time to remind them of some of the details.

"But then they would have known about the explosives, so why didn't they stop them from detonating?" the Commander queried, again thinking out loud.

"Tempest must have taken some extra charges, that way Inferno wouldn't have known about them…" Striker replied suddenly, remembering their time flying over there when he saw Tempest pack something into his bag just before they headed into the ship.

"Perhaps, but that still doesn't explain how a few escaped…" Commander Blitz continued, rubbing his muzzle as he continued to piece together the pieces slowly but surely.

"That's easy Commander…" Eclipse exclaimed, looking over at him, her face sullen as she continued, "Tempest wanted us to know what really happened - he knew he wouldn't make it out, so he told them about the extra charges he had planted just before they would detonate to ensure that a few of them at least would be able to get out in time…"

"Damn, it's a shame he couldn't work out a way of escaping himself as well…" Striker added, "…but then that also means Inferno may have escaped if he found an exit soon enough…"

"You may be right, but for now we need to work out what they're planning next, surely that's not the only ship that they have…" Commander Blitz continued, nervously sipping at his coffee once more.

"And you need to cut down on the coffee Commander…" Striker quickly retorted, hoping to break the tension a little.

The Commander growled at him a little as he got up and headed out the room, before suddenly stopping and turning around to face them once more, remembering what he wanted to say.

"All of you take it easy for a while, Intel is still looking for signs of the enemy in other regions, until we know what we're up against you should all take some time off, you could be back in action sooner than you think…"

They all nodded in reply and watched as he left, before looking back at each other once again, sitting quietly and clearly deep in thought.

"Enigma, are you OK? You haven't said a word the whole time…" Eclipse asked, placing a paw on her shoulder to try and comfort her a little.

"He… he lied to me… all this time he's been deceiving every one of us, and now… now… I… I…" she stuttered badly as she pressed her face into Eclipse's chest, crying out as if in pain as she held on tightly, lost in her thoughts and emotions.

Eclipse looked down at her and ran her claws through Enigma's long hair softly, nuzzling her gently to comfort her as she looked over at Striker, watching as he moved in closer and held them both tightly.

"It'll be OK, we'll get through this, I promise…" Striker whispered as they sat together, knowing that one way or another, this was far from over…

*****

"Commander, perhaps you should get some rest, we'll update you if anything urgent comes up, there's no need for you to wear yourself out over this…"

Commander Blitz looked over at the young feline sergeant, smiling a little as he walked over to a nearby window and looked up at the dark star filled sky above them, checking his watch before nodding back at the sergeant in agreement.

"Very well, I guess it won't do me any good hanging around waiting will it?"

"No Commander, I hope you get a good rest…" the sergeant replied before saluting and returning to his post.

"After what's happened today, I doubt I'm going to get any sleep at all…" the Commander grumbled as he headed back to his quarters.

"I wonder how they're all handling this…"

********************

Chapter 9 - Reflections

A cool wind swept through the room as Eclipse opened the window in her quarters, leaning on the window ledge as she looked up to the skies above, the light coming from the moon illuminating everything around her.

She sighed to herself as she simply stood there in thought, unable to sleep from the thoughts that swam through her head, a few tears forming and running down her muzzle as she ran through the day's events over and over again in her mind.

A loud knock on the door broke her train of thought as she slowly wrapped herself in her dressing gown, heading over to the door, wondering who could be passing by to see her so late in the evening.

She opened it and smiled a little when she saw Striker standing before her, himself smiling weakly back at her.

"Can we talk Eclipse?" he whispered quietly, nervously awaiting her response.

She smiled a little more as she nodded to him, watching as he walked into the room and stood next to the open window, his paws firmly on the window ledge as he looked up and simply stared.

"A full moon, it's so bright tonight…" Striker whispered as he looked back at her walking over to stand beside him.

"It's beautiful…" she whispered back as she nuzzled against him and looked up at him, looking him deeply in the eyes as she stroked his chest lightly.

Striker murred a little at her gentle affection before turning to face her fully, a paw stroking over her muzzle lightly.

"I… I'm sorry I wasn't more supportive earlier Eclipse, I…"

She pressed a finger to his muzzle, stopping him abruptly mid-sentence as she wrapped her arms around him and stroked him gently.

"It's OK Striker… I understand…" Eclipse looked up at him and smiled reassuringly, nuzzling his chest as they held each other close, both of them seemingly not wanting to let go.

Striker held her closer, his unease slowly melting away as he held her in his arms, stroking her back gently and murring lightly as they stood there for what seemed like an eternity gazing up at the stars above.

Slowly Striker loosened their embrace, looking down at her once more, gazing longingly into her eyes as he stroked her muzzle gently with his paw.

"Eclipse… I… I…"

She smiled and pressed a finger to his muzzle, silencing him once again as she pressed closer to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, nuzzling him gently.

"I know…" she whispered to him as she slowly pressed her muzzle to his, pressing him closer still as they kissed softly, his paws running over her back tenderly as their kiss deepened more and more as it continued for what felt like an eternity.

Slowly Striker pulled away from the kiss and looked down at her lovingly, stroking her muzzle once more as she nuzzled against his paw, her tail swaying happily in the evening breeze.

"Eclipse… I… I love you."

She smiled at him again and stroked his chest gently, purring a little at the affection she was receiving from the young fox.

"I love you too Striker, I'm glad you finally found the nerve to tell me how you feel…"

Striker smiled weakly as he ran his paws through her hair gently, admiring her beautiful form as the light of the full moon reflected deep into her eyes.

"Today made me realise a few things about myself, up until now I've had everything I could have dreamed of, except for one thing which I feared I would never find until I met you… love…"

She blushed a little as he said it, stroking his muzzle gently as she pulled him closer, wanting to kiss him softly once more…

Just before she could the moment was ruined as the emergency alarm system kicked in, Eclipse sighing deeply as she rushed over to the communication screen to find out what was going on.

She turned around and faced Striker once more, her appearance now slightly anxious as she started to dress.

"Emergency meeting in 5 minutes, seems as if they've found something big…"

Striker nodded and quietly sighed a little as well, "Looks like we'll have to wait a while to continue this…" he told himself, "this better be important…"

*****

"Everyone, it looks as if the enemy is preparing itself for the full invasion…" the Commander calmly stated, pointing to a large map on the screen behind him.

"It seems that the enemy has been preparing itself on the dark side of the moon, outside of our sensor range and as a result until now undetectable in any way whatsoever…"

The Commander continued as the room remained silent, many watching him intently, eager to know the gravity of the situation.

"They have now started to move out towards the earth; it appears that their fleet consists of thousands of smaller combat ships and one larger vessel behind them, which clearly must be their command ship and therefore our focal point for any offensive moves we wish to make"

A few of the officers looked at each other curiously, possibly hoping this was all a bad dream or a wind up by the Commander, but knowing that both were far from the truth.

"But how long do we have Commander?" one of the officers piped up, obviously a little nervous.

"According to the information we've managed to piece together so far, three days at most..."

A hushed silence filled the room as he said it, many not sure what to say as they tried to work out what they would need to do next.

"We have no time to think of a plan, other than to assemble every ship we've got and prepare to defend ourselves against them; hopefully we can at least punch a hole in their forces and take out their command ship, but until now we've still no idea as to the weaponry or technology they possess, or even how many more ships are hiding out of our sensor range…"

The Commander looked at them all and sighed a little, "For now everyone is to rest fully, we have a long day of preparations ahead of us tomorrow…"

The officers slowly moved out and headed back to their quarters, obviously unsettled at the news, deep in thought as they tried to fathom the situation.

"This couldn't get any worse…" the Commander grumbled to himself as he took another swig of coffee, trying to calm his nerves once more as he contemplated what to do next…

********************

Chapter 10 - Revival

"Seems as if he's already conscious, impressive…"

A faint regular beeping sound slowly filtered into his mind, its rhythmic beat vibrating through him, his body stirring a little from the sensations now reawakening within him…

The chilled air which surrounded him caused him to shake involuntarily, his motions restricted somehow as he tried to move his arms around himself to protect his body from the extreme cold.

"Just take it easy, you'll be out of there soon enough…"

He paused at the words, relaxing himself a little as he slowly opened his eyes, desperately trying to see where he was, the bright neon lights around him making it all the more difficult to do so.

Slowly he tried to say something, but paused once more as he realised his muzzle was covered with an oxygen mask, taking a few deep breaths as his muddled mind finally worked out what was happening.

He was in some sort of medical bay obviously being given some special type of treatment for his wounds, but unsure of who they were or where he was, the masked doctors giving him no indication as to their true nature.

"Inform the Captain, looks as if our efforts weren't in vain after all…"

He looked around the room a little more, struggling as his head was also tied down a little, his eyes straining as he looked over the bleak and empty room again and again.

Time seemed insignificant now, with no sign of night or day he had no idea how long he had been stuck in there, simply waiting patiently for whatever fate now had in store for him.

Finally his eyes focussed fully as he saw before him a large imposing figure enter the room, seemingly feline in appearance and yet somehow different in a way he couldn't make out in his present state…

"Welcome back, Tempest. Seems you've got some fight in you after all…"

The young wolf could do nothing as suddenly his body felt heavy once more, his eyes struggling to stay open as he fell once more into a deep sleep, the hybrid before him grinning before turning around and heading out the room once more.

"Where… am I?"

********************

Chapter 11 - Origins

Tempest awoke once more to find himself in another room, breathing heavily as he looked around him at his new surroundings, noting them to be much more comfortable than his previous location.

Pawing his chest all over he frantically tried to find the location of the wound made by Chaos, surprised as he failed to find any trace of it whatsoever…

"But… how? Am… am I dead?"

The large hybrid he had seen earlier suddenly appeared out of the corner of his eye, walking over to him slowly, a large smirk across his face as he watched the young wolf's reactions to his current situation.

"You're not dead Tempest, nor has it been that long since you were beaten by Chaos… in fact that was less than two days ago…"

Tempest looked back at him, sitting up a little in the bed as he tried to work it all out in his head, trying to think of what to ask next…

"How?" he replied, deciding to let his host fill in as many gaps as possible in his understanding of the situation.

The large hybrid chuckled at the question, walking over to the solitary window and holding his arms behind his back as he looked over at Tempest once more.

"I'd best explain a little for you then, hmm?"

Tempest sat up and examined him a little more now he was able to focus clearly.

He was clearly a mix of canine and feline, his build highly athletic, clearly over seven foot and consequently an imposing figure to say the least.

The markings which covered his body were like those of a tiger, yet the greyness of his fur with contrasting white fur on his chest and muzzle blended well together, lightly spiked long black hair running down to his shoulders.

"Well we've been watching you for a while now Tempest, seems you've some impressive tricks up your sleeves from what we've seen so far…"

Tempest sighed as he said it, clutching his chest as if the wound was still there…

"You flatter me, as far as I could see I was as helpless as a newborn puppy out there…"

The hybrid turned around to face Tempest, giving him a clear view of his face. His eyes seemed a little cold yet focussed, now noticing the large scar running over his left eye, indicative of a battle wound inflicted many years ago.

"Perhaps, but your body seems to be telling us otherwise…"

Tempest looked back at him, his ears perking up curiously as the hybrid sat down next to him.

"Despite your 'weakness', you still managed to dodge his final attack enough for it to avoid all of your critical body functions, you then somehow are able to put yourself in a meditative state to conserve your energy before finally being able to heal up fully within a matter of days, granted with the help of one of our deep freeze chambers…"

The wolf simply looked back in disbelief, "But… I never tried to do any of those things… and how did I get here anyway?"

The large hybrid chuckled lightly at him before continuing, "Like I said, we've been watching you, we decided to bail you out of there once you'd cleared the room with that bomb warning of yours…"

Tempest slowly stood up and stretched, trying to take all of it in as quickly as possible.

"Then I must thank you… er…"

"The names Captain Dazen D. Cobalt, but you can call me Das to keep things simple…" he replied quickly, looking at him curiously.

Tempest nodded and bowed to him respectfully, "Then thank you Das, I owe you my life…"

Das smirked a little and nodded before moving once more to the window.

"The way things are going out there, we might need you to return the favour fairly soon…"

Tempest looked around and saw his uniform on a nearby table, walking over and slowly suiting up as Das continued.

"The enemy was clearly knocked by your efforts, it seems that they've sped up their plans as a result and are readying themselves for an all out assault… right now we're still working out what their full force truly is…"

Tempest looked over and finished dressing, flexing a little more as he tried to awaken his senses as much as possible, "So you're part of the AED as well?"

"No, we're a small mercenary force based in the Antarctic zone, not that we have an issue with the AED, but we just like to have a little independence in what we do, that's all…" Das quickly replied.

"I see, no wonder it's so cold… but why did you save me then?" Tempest curiously asked.

"That's an easy one, there's a power inside you which if unlocked could be the difference between us defeating Armageddon's forces or being wiped out of existence completely…"

Tempest looked back at him once more, a little taken aback by his comments.

"That's insane! You really think that I can make such a difference?" he quickly exclaimed, starting to question the hybrid's sanity.

"Of course I do, your father explained it all to us a long time ago."

"My father? What are you talking about Das? I've never known him…" Tempest blurted out, still in denial at the revelations.

"I'd take a seat Tempest, this might take a while…" Das calmly replied, pointing to a chair nearby.

"You see that mark on your shoulder? That 'Z' like patch of white fur? That was no coincidence… you picked that up when you were just a young pup…"

Tempest listened carefully, his body language clearly showing his confusion as Das continued.

"When you were barely a year old, your parents were inexplicably murdered one bitterly cold winter's night in your own home; somehow you managed to escape the house and were found the next morning curled up shivering in the snow… what confused everyone was how at such a young age you were able to survive those conditions for so long…

Shortly after Commander Blitz, who as you know knew your father well, took you in and raised you as his own son, along with Eclipse, who also was also orphaned around that point of time in similar circumstances.

Over time the two of you became very close, you ending up as such as her brother and ultimately her protector; your desire to keep those you love so great that seemingly you would do anything for them…

Your desire was so strong, that it meant that you would even sacrifice your own life would it be enough to keep them safe from harm… a point highlighted by your decision to only take Inferno into the scout ship, a mission where you knew that the odds of success were limited to say the least…"

Tempest clutched the chair a little as Das recounted the story, trying to hold his emotions back as the images flashed through his mind…

"I know all of this Das, please, don't remind me…"

Das looked back at him, his face remaining cold and emotionless as he continued his story.

"Do you remember your first time in the training zone at the AED headquarters? You were still very young at the time, they get you running on the basic training simulations as soon as they can so that you can adapt to them much quicker…"

Tempest tried hard to recall the scene, but found himself now drawing a blank, cursing as he tried more and more to remember it as Das continued on.

"Anyway, the point is that at that time, Eclipse was also with you training… and for some reason the pressure of being in such a situation for the first time and your instinctual need to defend Eclipse caused you to do something that no one could ever have imagined possible, that is had it not been seen by so many at the time…"

Tempest looked back at him and stared, the image he was so desperately searching for finally flashing before him clearly, his body paralysed as the memories suddenly flowed through his mind once more.

"You transformed momentarily, your body somehow reaching a whole new state as you lost control and simply tore through the simulation machines, displaying speed and strength that the greatest of warriors would kill to have suddenly flowing through you…"

Tempest started to shake a little as his mind ran through the scene all too clearly for his liking, the memories no longer suppressed as Das simply carried on, not stopping once to gauge his reactions.

"The moment Eclipse called out your name you stopped yourself somehow and reverted back to your normal self, albeit now marked on your chest and arm with white furring, as if the life had drained from those areas… it took you three days to recover, although your fur has never changed back for some reason…"

Das paused and looked up at him, a small grin forming as he watched Tempest curiously.

"And now Tempest… it's time for you to do that again… to become, as your father phrased it… 'Tempest Omega'…"

********************

Chapter 12 - The calm before the storm…

"Tempest… Omega?"

Tempest whispered the words to himself quietly, looking back at Das in disbelief, curious as to what he had in store for him.

"Well, your father told Commander Blitz that there was something within you that could be unlocked, for some reason he deemed 'Omega' to be a suiting name for your new form…" Das mockingly said as he stood up, stretching a little himself as he started to walk towards the door.

"You mean Blitz knew about this as well?" Tempest exclaimed, following Das as he left the room, intent to find out as much as possible.

"Well of course, he just didn't believe it until you first did it unknowingly in front of his very eyes; since then he's not known what to do about it… until now that is…" Das retorted back, calmly heading down the seemingly endless corridor, Tempest hot in pursuit.

Suddenly he stopped and opened a large door, a bitter wind hitting them as Das slowly walked inside.

Tempest followed and looked around to see a vast spacious room that looked ultimately felt like a giant freezer, huge icicles and snow dunes littering the landscape, noting high above them several windows angled down towards them, obviously an observation deck of some sort.

Tempest jumped a little in surprise as he looked around and instinctively caught his sword, surprised to see his own blade once more in his paws.

"Looks like you've been waiting a while for this…" Tempest shouted, hoping Das would hear him over the chilling wind which howled through the room relentlessly.

Das grinned once more as he picked up a similar shaped sword, albeit a little longer and made from a blackened dull metal, obviously a compound metal designed to do some serious damage.

"We've got 48 hours to awaken your Omega side Tempest… that'll give us just enough time to get back to the AED and help them out with their defence plan before the enemy strikes… don't think for a moment that I'll go easy on you though…"

Tempest nodded in reply as he unsheathed his own blade, steadying himself in the snow as he tried to work out what the hybrid had in store for him.

"So, what's the plan? You going to teach me some new techniques or something?" Tempest queried back at him.

"It's quite simple really, either you transform and defeat me, or I'll kill you… if you can't become 'Omega' then as far as we're concerned you're useless to us…" Das replied coldly, not even looking up at Tempest this time...

"Well then, if that's how it is we'd best get started… give me everything you've got Das!" Tempest shouted as he charged towards the large hybrid, his blade ready to strike at any moment.

"Hmm… this could be fun…" Das thought to himself as he charged towards his opponent, grinning widely as he waited for Tempest to strike…

*****

"Are you sure? Incredible… yes… thank you…"

Commander Blitz saluted the officer as he walked out of his office, slowly taking another sip of his coffee as he contemplated the news.

"Impossible… I'd best tell Eclipse and the others right away…" he mumbled to himself.

"Tell us what exactly?"

Commander Blitz looked up to see Eclipse now standing in the doorway, obviously curious to know what the Commander was babbling on about now.

He paused for a moment, before putting down his coffee and slowly walking over to her.

"Tempest… he's… alive…" he slowly stated, watching her as she stared back at him, seemingly in shock.

"Tempest…" she stood there for what seemed like an eternity in silence, clearly unsure of what to say.

Commander Blitz sighed and slowly wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him and watching as suddenly she broke into tears, nuzzling hard into his chest as the sense of relief became too much for her to contain.

"Just like her mother…" Commander Blitz thought to himself as he tried to comfort her, stroking her gently as he looked out a nearby window at the officers outside preparing themselves for the upcoming battle, wondering what was in store for them next…

*****

"It seems as if our plan is working my lord"

"Our plan? This is MY plan you ignorant fool, don't you dare imply otherwise again…" the large draconian figure exclaimed, looking down at the feline bowing before him.

The room was expansive, yet its appearance cold from the black metal plating which covered it from top to bottom, nothing within it save for a large chair and computer panel in the centre…

Several large windows were placed around the circumference of the room; allowing a clear view from all sides of the depths of space which surrounded them, save for the view of the Earth from the stern of the ship.

"Of course my lord, my apologies for the slip of the tongue…" he replied, cursing a little as he watched the dragon intently.

"Chaos, how long does Inferno need for his ground troops to be ready?" the dragon queried coldly, patiently awaiting an answer.

"Based on current progress, around 36 hours Lord Armageddon…" Chaos replied quickly, not wanting to keep him waiting for fear of what he might do to him if his mood suddenly turned to one of impatience.

"Excellent… with their forces focussed now on our space fleet, they'll never know what hit them… this world will fall easily to our might!" Armageddon boasted to himself, looking back at Chaos with an evil smirk on his face.

For a 9ft tall dragon he was powerfully built, black scales covering him from head to toe, save for various red spikes which ran from his head all the way down his back to the tip of his tail.

The only distinguishable marks were those of several scars covering his chest and arms, with one larger deeper cut right down the middle of his chest, obviously a deeper wound inflicted many years ago from the way it contorted a little.

"Such simple minded fools will never be able to outwit you my lord…" Chaos added, hoping to appease the dragon's ego as much as possible.

"Indeed… you're dismissed Chaos…"

The large feline nodded and slowly got up, making his way out of the room, leaving Inferno alone to contemplate his plans.

"This is far too easy… are they really so weak?"

********************

Chapter 13 - Defiance

“Come on Tempest, is that all you’ve got!?” Das roared as he kicked Tempest hard on the shoulder, watching as he landed heavily nearby, the deep crisp snow which covered the ground softening the impact a little but taking none of the pain away.

Tempest gasped and picked himself up slowly, looking over at Das, his breathing heavy as he tried to refocus himself once more.

“Damn… he’s tough; we’ve been fighting all day and I haven’t been able to register a hit yet…” Tempest thought to himself as Das watched him curiously, grinning still as he savoured the feeling of being in complete control of the battle so far.

“What’s the matter Tempest? Out of breath already? I was just warming up…”

Das chuckled as he stretched a little, all the while watching the young wolf to gauge his reactions.

Tempest growled a little as he readied himself once more, moving into a more offensive stance as he raised his sword, the heavy snow blurring his view a little as he focussed on his opponent once more.

“Don’t think that I’m finished just yet Das…” Tempest replied as he leapt into the air towards Das, preparing to strike him with an aerial sword attack, hoping to surprise him with the change of tactics.

“Meh, at this rate I’m going to have to put you out of your misery sooner than planned…” Das retorted as he countered easily, using his sword to block the attack before backflipping away from Tempest once more, kicking him hard in the face as he did so.

Tempest yelped a little from the pain as once more he landed heavily in the snow, the impact causing him to drop his sword nearby, panting hard once more as he looked up and saw Das above him.

“You’re weak Tempest… I’m amazed Blitz had the patience to raise such a useless pup like you… you’re definitely not soldier material, let alone capable of anything else…”

Das continued to mock him as he prepared to stamp down on Tempest’s face with one of his large footpaws, the grin on his face a constant as he waited to see how Tempest would react to his words.

“Come on Tempest… you can do better than this…”

Tempest growled louder this time as he watched Das move his footpaw down towards him, dodging to the side before picking up his sword and striking quickly at Das while his guard was down temporarily, watching as Das dodged at the last moment and leapt away from him to regain his composure once more.

“I’ll show you what I can do Das, I promise…” Tempest replied, his grip on his sword tightening as he charged towards Das, his eyes burning with anger as he unleashed a torrent of attacks onto him.

The large hybrid’s grin widened as he watched Tempest’s fury increasing, now having to make some effort to block his attacks as the wolf continued to battle away at Das’ defences, a little surprised when he felt the edge of Tempest’s sword strike the plated armour on his shoulder.

“My turn.” Tempest coolly replied as he noticed Das’ moment of surprise, using the opportunity to jump up into the air and double kick Das in the chest, sending him flying, all the while Tempest watching carefully for any signs of a counterattack.

Das growled a little as he looked back at Tempest, noting the deep gouge in the shoulder plating and slowly picking himself up, his tail’s motions furious as he tried to remain cool.

“That was just lucky Tempest… perhaps I should stop going easy on you…”

Tempest looked back at him as he readied himself for whatever Das had planned next, the cold chill no longer felt as his mind and body focussed purely on his opponent’s next move.

“Perhaps you should just tell me how this is going to help me become Omega first…” Tempest replied, still unsure as to how things should progress.

Das looked back at him, pausing before laughing wildly at his statement.

“I already told you Tempest, either you transform and defeat me, or I’ll kill you… you’re no match for me right now, so the sooner you realise that the more chance you have of getting through this…”

Tempest swallowed heavily at the thought, knowing that Das was to a greater or lesser extent right; if he couldn’t find a way to get stronger somehow this was going to be impossible to get through…

“But first, I think it’s time to stop playing around with such amateur weaponry…”

Das smirked as he walked over to a large chest, throwing down his sword before opening the chest up to reveal a much larger blade, several feet long and over a foot thick, several jagged edges near the base obviously designed to do extra damage to any opponent unlucky enough the be hit by it.

“Mmm… much better…” Das purred loudly as he swung the blade around a few times, slicing it through a nearby glacier and watching with delight as it split cleanly in two, all the while Tempest watching in shock.

“Woah…” Tempest muttered to himself as Das turned around to face him once more, carefully leaning the large blade on his shoulder as he chuckled at Tempest’s reaction.

“Something the matter Tempest? Looks like you’re a little concerned…”

Tempest looked back at him without reply, both of them silent for a moment before he suddenly leapt into the air, landing nearby to Das before quickly leaping away again…

Das watched the wolf curiously before realising what Tempest was up to, his tail swaying wildly as Tempest picked up his other sword, obviously looking to even the odds a little.

“Nice idea… but I doubt it’s going to give you much of an advantage really… although it will make killing you more fun…” Das purred loudly as he looked over at Tempest, who simply stared back at him coldly, waiting for Das to strike once more.

Das roared powerfully as he charged at Tempest, swinging wildly as Tempest dodged his attacks with ease, backflipping away from him as Das paused for a moment to catch a breath in between strikes.

“What’s going on? He seems to be evading my attacks more easily now…” Das pondered as he watched Tempest counter attack, frantically blocking his flurry of attacks, clearly impressed from his efforts which seemed to be more focussed than before.

Tempest backed off once again and smiled back at Das, both swords at the ready as he gasped for breath.

“What’s the matter Das? Finding things a little harder?” Tempest calmly queried, watching as the large hybrid took the opportunity to take a break as well.

“Heh, it seems you’re getting used to my combat style the more we battle somehow…” Das replied, hoping for some more insight as to Tempest’s gradual improvement.

Tempest grinned weakly, panting a little as he tried to keep his focus, knowing that any lapse in concentration could be his downfall against such an opponent.

“Let’s just say I have a knack for it shall we?” Tempest continued before charging towards Das, readying himself to deliver another flurry of attacks.

“Indeed… although don’t get your hopes up… there is plenty I’ve yet to show you Tempest…”

Das chuckled lightly as he dodged Tempest’s first attack, spinning behind him before rapidly wrapping his tail around his neck, the young wolf gasping loudly as the powerful tail muscles squeezed harder.

“You didn’t think that just by working out a few of my moves you could win did you Tempest?” Das taunted as he tightened his grip, watching as Tempest tried desperately to break loose, dropping his swords in the process as he pulled at the tail around his neck desperately.

“Ack… D… Das…” Tempest tried to speak, but found himself unable to as he was slowly lifted into the air, amazed at the strength which the large hybrid’s tail possessed.

“Game over Tempest… this ends now…”

********************

Chapter 14 – Revelations

“Striker! Where are you? Striker!”

Enigma ran down the hallway, looking around frantically as she tried to locate him, various onlookers watching her curiously as she swept past them.

“Enigma! I’m here, what’s up?” Striker replied from one of the nearby rooms.

Enigma spotted him and skidded to a halt, taking a moment to calm down a little before she spoke.

“Tempest is alive!” she panted heavily, watching as Striker smiled weakly, obviously distracted by something else.

“We already know Enigma, but right now we’ve no time to think about that…”

Enigma looked back at him curiously, walking further into the room as she saw him looking over a large map screen, several other officers present as well for some reason.

“It seems those ships in space aren’t our only concern right now…” Striker continued, beckoning her over to show her what they were looking at.

Enigma paused as she looked down at the map, gasping a little in shock from what she saw.

“But… when did they manage to rebuild it?” she replied, a little taken aback from the sight of what looked like a large scout ship on the map, very similar to the one they had blown up previously.

Striker sighed a little and looked back at her once more.

“It seems our old friend Inferno hacked the scanner systems so that they would skip that area, we only just found out there was a second ship hiding in that region when the engineers completed their weekly checkups…”

Enigma looked at the other officers, trying to gauge the seriousness of the problem but having no luck; their expressions cold and without emotion as they continued to examine the map screen before them.

“But, how long has it been there?”

He looked back at her and sighed again, “A while I’d say, it looks like they’ll be ready to strike in less than 12 hours… the Commander and Eclipse left a while back to head over to the Antarctic zone in the hope of drafting up some more support from our allies over there, as well as picking up Tempest… in the meantime it’s up to us to prepare our counterattack…”

Enigma stared back at him, the realisation of what he was saying slowly kicking in. “You mean…”

“Yes Enigma, it seems Inferno is back…”

********************

Chapter 15 – Omega ascension

“You’re useless Tempest… you’ll never be able to save them… I should just put you out of your misery and end it now…”

Das continued to mock him as he held the wolf in the air, his tail’s grip relentless as he watched Tempest continue to struggle in his tail hold.

“Why do you struggle Tempest? You’ve never been able to protect the ones you love, your parents, your friends, even Eclipse… all of them will be killed and there’s nothing you can do about it is there? Perhaps you should beg me to do it for you…”

Tempest remained silent, refusing to believe what Das said as he tried to remain composed, waiting for a chance to break free and strike…

“Give it up Tempest…”

Tempest growled a little, refusing to reply as suddenly the large doors on one side of the room opened, a solitary figure walking into the room much to the surprise of both them.

“Tempest! What’s happening?”

Das grinned once more as he lifted Tempest a little higher, throwing him across the room with his tail and watching with delight as he collapsed on the ground, clearly weakened from the hybrid’s tail grip.

“Ah… Eclipse… glad to see you could make it…” Das chuckled evilly as he slowly walked over to her, purring as she looked up at him, clearly worried about Tempest as he remained motionless on the ground.

“What did you do to him? I thought you were our ally!” she shouted at him, trying to hide her fear as he loomed over her smaller form.

“Well, I was hoping I’d have woken up his Omega factor by now, but it seems he’s weaker than I thought…” Das continued, placing a large paw on her shoulder before slowly squeezing it, holding her tight to make sure she didn’t try to escape.

Eclipse gasped a little from the pain, tears starting to form in her eyes as she found herself slowly pushed down onto her knees, unable to stop Das as he continued.

“I guess I’ll just have to show him how helpless he really is…” Das coldly stated as he pushed Eclipse onto her back, leaving her there as he raised his arm and pulled out his sword, swinging it a few times before pointing it down at her.

Das slowly pushed his large footpaw down on her, watching as she screamed out in pain from the pressure on her chest, noting Tempest slowly trying to pick himself up once more.

“Hmm… seems it has to come down to this, I hope this is going to work, Blitz will never forgive me if it doesn’t…” Das thought to himself as he waited a little longer for Tempest to regroup his senses.

“Tempest! Can you hear me? If you’re not strong enough to save her then I’ll kill her too…”

Eclipse stared up at him in horror, realising what he was up to but not believing that he was willing to go this far to achieve it…

Tempest finally was able to stand up straight, looking down as he silently picked up his sword, leaving the other one he had taken from Das on the ground beside him.

“Heh, so you’re still conscious, no matter, by now you must be too weak to even consider stopping me… Tell you what, let me put you out of your misery and kill you both, starting with Eclipse…”

Tempest growled as he listened, squeezing hard the handle of his sword to the extent that his hand started to bleed, small drops of blood slowly dripping onto the crisp white snow below.

“Enough talk, you lose Tempest, say goodbye to Eclipse…” Das suddenly roared loudly, swinging his sword up in the air before bringing it back down again to strike Eclipse, lifting his foot off of her as he did so.

“TEMPEST!”

Time seemed to stand still, Das stunned as he suddenly found himself stopped in his tracks, unable to push his sword down any further as if something was blocking him.

“What the…!?” Das gasped as he looked down and saw Tempest blocking his attack, surprised at how Tempest was able to block him with such ease.

Tempest remained silent, breathing hard as he slowly looked up at Das, his eyes now a burning yellow colour which glowed brightly as if something inside of him had just been awoken.

“Tempest…?” Eclipse whimpered a little as she saw him above her, just as surprised as Das at the situation.

“No… more… Das… Now it’s my turn…” Tempest growled as he kicked Das hard, sending him flying as he leapt into the air after him, furiously attacking him again and again clearly blinded by his anger.

Eclipse watched in horror as Tempest continued to attack Das, every strike dealing damage to they hybrid’s powerful armour, the smaller wolf clearly burning himself out as his eyes glowed brighter.

“He’s losing control… it’s just like the training simulation all over again…” Eclipse thought as she watched, slowly getting up before running over to them, hoping she could stop him before it was too late.

“What’s the matter Das? You don’t seem to be as confident as before!” Tempest shouted, grinning maniacally as the power rush seemed to be driving him crazy, laughing insanely as he continued to relentlessly attack Das.

“He’s crazy, what have I done?” Das thought to himself as suddenly Tempest swung his sword with suck ferocity that the hybrid could no longer hold onto it, staring back at Tempest as he realised that he was now at his mercy, Tempest preparing to deliver the killer blow.

“Hmm… how did you put it? Oh yes…I remember…” Tempest grinned the same way as Das had done previously for effect as he slowly moved away from him and prepared himself to strike.

“Game over Das… this ends now…”

Tempest raised his arms, holding his sword above his head and pausing for a moment before suddenly gasping with surprise as Eclipse grabbed him from behind, wrapping her arms around him and holding him tight.

“TEMPEST! THAT’S ENOUGH! STOP IT PLEASE!!!”

He looked over his shoulder to see her looking up at him, tear filled eyes pleading with him to stop, Eclipse clearly scared by his actions but determined to stop him before he went too far.

“E... Eclipse…”

Tempest’s eyes suddenly snapped back into focus, still a bright yellow colour as he dropped his sword and collapsed to his knees, both Das and Eclipse standing back as he screamed in pain.

“What’s happening Das?” she shouted to him, both of them watching as his body glowed brightly, the intensity of the light causing them to shield their eyes for a moment.

Das remained silent, both of them watching as the light slowly faded, both stunned at what they now saw before them.

As the light faded they could see Tempest’s form, only now two large angelic wings stretched out either side of him, his height and build seemingly also increased a little…

His fur was now predominantly white, black fur covering his lower arms and legs with tiger markings all over his upper arms and sides, his chest fur now inverted as well somehow…

The glow faded a little more, allowing them to see that his spiky hairstyle was the same as it was before, although the spikes now alternated in colour between black and white in a alternating fashion.

They stared at him a little longer before Eclipse moved a little closer out of curiosity, still a little scared but slightly comforted by his appearance somehow.

She paused as slowly he opened his eyes and looked back at her, a certain calmness now in his eyes, the anger and hatred from earlier on seemingly no longer there.

“It’s OK Eclipse… it’s me…” he calmly replied, giving her a gentle smile as he did so to reassure her.

“Tempest!” she ran over to him and held him tight, her relief indescribable as he wrapped his arms around her, the harsh coldness of the snow seemingly fading away as he wrapped his wings around her.

“Well… looks like he did it… for a moment there that was looking bad…” Das thought to himself as he stood up, taking off the damage parts of his armour before he started walking over to them slowly.

Tempest looked up at him, knowing that Das was done fighting, his goal finally achieved.

“Thanks Das…” Tempest dryly said, smiling a little more as he said it.

“Meh. No worries.” Das replied, his infamous grin returning as he said it.

Eclipse gasped as she felt Tempest slump against her, watching as he slowly fell unconscious, falling to the ground once more as she tried her best to soften his fall.

“Tempest! What’s wrong?” she exclaimed, holding him against her gently.

“Looks like he’s burned out… he just needs some rest that’s all…” Das replied coolly as he looked up to the observation room above them, motioning for a medic team to come down before looking back at Eclipse and Tempest once more.

“Tempest ‘Omega’… let’s hope your father wasn’t kidding about your potential…”

********************

Chapter 16 – Strategies

“Well then, we’d best get down to business, hmm?”

Commander Blitz sat down at the end of the large table, looking up as several officers as well as Das and Eclipse sat down around the table, watching as he unravelled a large map on the table before him.

“It seems that we have two main fronts to tackle now, first the invading space fleet and the second the ground base we discovered in the Eurasia zone…”

They examined the map set before them carefully, everyone listening carefully as the Commander continued his brief.

“Striker and Enigma are already preparing our ground forces to head over to the Eurasia zone and take down the base before they can reinforce their defences… As it’s a similar ship to the one Tempest took down previously we should be able to use the plans Inferno gave us earlier to get in and blow the whole place up in the same way… otherwise the ground troops will have to take them down by force… either way we can’t let them push us back, it’ll be much harder to try and attack later, especially with the space front keeping our aerial resources busy…”

Das growled a little, looking over at the Commander as he paused, surprised at the large hybrid’s reaction.

“How on earth can you base a full plan of attack on the concept that you can just repeat the same tactics as last time? Surely the engine core room would be filled with troops anticipating such a possibility… who do you think would take on such an impossible mission?”

The Commander smiled wryly as he looked back at Das.

“Well now, I thought something like this would be child’s play for someone like you… what’s the matter, could it be that you’re afraid Das?”

Das roared powerfully as he stood up and grabbed the Commander, lifting him up in the air with one paw.

“How dare you insult me Blitz… no one would take that mission no matter how strong they were… you know that…”

The rest of the room watched them argue helplessly, stunned as the Commander simply remained emotionless in the larger hybrid’s hold, before he sighed and looked up at Das once more.

“No one except Enigma that is…”

Das paused for a moment, a little surprised as he lowered Blitz down again, waiting for the Commander to continue.

“Anyway, while Striker leads the ground troops outside, she’d break in and blow up the engine cores while they’re distracted by the external threat… as for holding her own once she gets inside… well let’s just say she has more than a few tricks up her sleeve…”

Das’ ears perked up as he continued, cursing to himself a little as he listened to Blitz’s explanation.

“Even if she fails, at least Striker and the ground forces should be able to put up a good enough fight to gradually wear them down and take down the base, but of course the more options we have the better the chances we have of succeeding…”

Blitz sat down again, looking up at Das slowly, his eyes almost pleading with him silently as if wanting to say so much more.

Das looked at him and thought for a moment before sitting down once more himself, his claws digging lightly into the table as he thought it over repeatedly.

“Hmpf… fine… I guess I’ll do it, she wouldn’t stand a chance without me anyway…” Das grumbled, refusing to look back at the Commander as he said it.

“Very well, we’ll brief you on the details before you leave… for now let’s move onto the space front…”

The other officers sighed with relief as the tension finally eased away, watching as the Commander resumed his various motions over the map before them.

“Regardless of how things progress in the Eurasia zone, we’ll have to focus our main assault on their incoming space fleet, as if we lose that battle our aerial possibilities will be nullified and ultimately we’ll be sitting ducks…”

One of the officers walked over and turned on a large screen behind the Commander, various dots indicating smaller and larger vessels appearing on it, clearly displaying the invading forces’ fleet.

“As we can see, they have many smaller ships at the front, followed by several larger sized ones with one ‘command ship’ at the rear, which clearly would be our main target…”

Everyone looked at the map curiously, watching as the Commander pressed a button on the small remote in his hand, the screen starting to show an animated formation sequence.

“We will need to spread out our fleet evenly, with our attacks focussing on the sides of their formation to wear them down, in order to try and focus them into a tighter area… This should create space to manoeuvre behind the larger ships and take them down with a surprise rearguard attack… as we don’t know their full firepower potential we’ll have to reduce their numbers quickly if we’re to stand a chance… Myself and Eclipse will be monitoring the battle from the rear of our attack formation so that we can relay updates to the fleet depending on how things progress…”

Das looked back at him and growled again as his impatience grew slowly.

“What about the ‘command ship’? How you going to take that down then Blitz?”

The Commander again paused for a moment, his eyes closed as he replied slowly.

“That, Das, is where Tempest comes in…”

Das’ expression now showed confusion, highly perplexed by his vague statement, his claws again digging into the table as he waited for him to continue.

“The research team has designed a space suit which is significantly more flexible than our current gear and equipped with several enhancements to make it easy to move around and such… In short, we can use it to have Tempest reach the ‘command ship’ undetected where he will then be able to take out the main threat of this invasion in order to end this conflict once and for all…”

Das looked at him and chuckled mockingly at Blitz before he could finish.

“Surely you don’t mean…”

Blitz growled and looked back at Das, trying hard to contain his anger at the constant critique his plan was receiving.

“Yes Das… Armageddon…”

The room fell deadly silent, no one sure as how to react, a few moments passing before Eclipse stood up slowly to face them both.

“You really think he can do that Blitz? He only worked out how to turn into his Omega form a few hours ago… how can you be sure he’s ready?”

Blitz sighed again as he looked over at her.

“I don’t, but like I said earlier we need to maximise our options… if he can do it then this should all be over a lot sooner…”

“And if he can’t? How can you send him on such a careless and foolhardy mission when you have no idea of how strong Armageddon really is? What if he’s too much for Tempest? What happens if he runs into Inferno or Chaos? What happens if he…”

Eclipse stopped herself, realising what she was about to say, her paws clenched tightly as they started to shake a little.

“What happens if he dies? If we fail, we’ll all die anyway Eclipse, we have to do whatever we can to stop Armageddon before it’s too late… even if there’s only a small chance of success, we have to try…”

She paused and looked back at him, tears starting to form in her eyes before she got up and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her in frustration.

Blitz watched her as she left the room, the room falling silent once more as he looked around the room, the officers looking back slightly surprised at the scene just played out before them.

“Well then, you all know what you need to do, check your briefing files and get your respective teams ready, we’ll be moving out at 0700 hours sharp…”

Everyone nodded as they slowly made their way out of the room, Das waiting for a moment before he stood up as well, moving over to Blitz once more.

“Let’s hope your plan works Blitz…” Das whispered quietly before he turned around and followed the other officers out of the briefing room.

The room fell silent once more as the room emptied; the Commander still sat at the table motionless as he closed his eyes, taking several deep breaths as he tried to relax for a moment.

“I hope so too Das… I hope so too…”

********************

Chapter 17 – Fragile hope

Tempest groaned a little as he slowly opened his eyes, the softness of the sheets he lay in indicating he was in a recovery room of some sort, the bright sunlight causing him to squint a little as he tried to focus his vision.

He looked up at the ceiling above him, the monotone white easy on his eyes as slowly but surely his vision cleared up, trying to adjust his position a little to look around more easily.

The young wolf looked down at himself, surprised to see his fur predominantly white, various black markings covering his body, noting that his build was a little more defined than usual as well.

Tempest tried to lift his paws up to look at them, pausing as he realised one was being held by something, looking down slowly to see Eclipse holding it tightly to her as she lay nuzzled against the side of the bed.

“Looks like she’s been here a while…I wonder how long it’s been since I knocked out…”

He turned to face her a little more, raising his other paw to her and stroking her hair softly, watching as she stirred slowly from her slumber.

“Hey Eclipse… you ok?”

She murred lightly as she nuzzled against his paw, her eyes opening slowly as she looked up at him and smiled, clearly delighted to see him conscious once more.

“Tempest… I’m… I’m fine… how about you?”

He chuckled lightly as she tried to wake up, stretching a little as she slowly got up and opened the window, letting some fresh air into the room to try and help speed up the process.

“Considering everything that’s happened recently… pretty well I’d say…”

Tempest shuffled in the bed as he tried to sit on the edge of it to face her, whimpering a little as his wings dragged on the wall behind him, finding himself a little surprised at the sensations.

“Since when did I have wings?!”

Eclipse smiled back at him as she took two cups from the table and offered him one, sipping softly from hers as she giggled at him, looking curiously at his new form.

“They look big enough to fly with Tempest; perhaps you should try them out sometime…”

She continued sipping her tea as he continued to check himself over, pawing at his newly found appendages in mild surprise, the feathers which covered them ruffling a little from the cool breeze flowing through the room.

He looked down at himself, pausing for a moment as if in deep thought, his fists clenching several times as he looked at them intently.

“Is there something wrong Tempest?” Eclipse exclaimed as she moved closer, surprised at the sudden change in mood of the young wolf.

“Am… am I really strong enough? Can I really stop him?”

Eclipse paused for a moment, surprised by his question, wondering if he already knew why they had tried so hard to awaken his inner power.

“What do you mean Tempest?”

He looked back at her, his paws still clenched tightly as he did so.

“I feel like there’s a fire burning deep within me… so much energy which I have to use and yet it’s too deep inside to use as I am now, as if there’s something else I need to do to be able to use it… but I have no idea what it is…”

She moved closer still, placing a paw on his muzzle as she stroked it softly, watching as he paused and waited for her to reply.

“I’m sure you’ll work it out Tempest… I believe in you…”

Tempest smiled weakly at her, wrapping an arm around her back as he pulled her slowly towards him, moving his other arm around her as she pressed against his chest.

“I won’t fail you Eclipse… whatever it takes I won’t let him get away with this… I promise…”

He felt her press tightly against his chest, nuzzling into his chest fur as she cried lightly, wrapping her arms around him firmly as if never wanting to let go.

Tempest ran his paws over her back, stroking softly as he nuzzled her hair gently, trying his best to comfort her as she looked up at him.

“I don’t want to lose you Tempest… you mean too much to me…”

The young wolf pulled her back against him, resting his muzzle on her shoulder, a few tears slowly rolling down his cheeks.

“Eclipse…”

********************

Chapter 18 – Final preparations

“Well Das, looks like you’re ready to go…”

Das stood up proudly as the last of his armour was equipped; his armour was focussed on several key points; clearly focussed on hand to hand combat techniques.

He sported a thick heavy guard covering the majority of his left arm, heavy guards on both his paws and footpaws, sharp talons on the end of them clearly designed to slice an opponent in two given the chance…

The large hybrid’s tail was covered in sharp claws as well, intended to be used as a secondary weapon, such was the strength and range of his tail’s motions.

He took hold of the large sword attached to his back, swinging it around a few times before pausing as a younger soldier offered him a large handgun, clearly capable of dealing some heavy damage.

“Heh, push off kid, as if I need a toy like that…” he said mockingly as he resumed his motions, stretching powerfully as he adjusted to the armour.

The soldier nodded and ran off again; possibly fearing he would get caught in the motions of the large hybrid’s sword.

“Looks like you’re having fun there… Das was it?”

Das grumbled to himself as he was interrupted again, holstering his sword once more as he turned around, pausing momentarily as he saw Enigma standing before him.

“Well now, that’s not bad…” Das thought to himself as he looked her over curiously.

Enigma was already suited up, light armour covering several sections of her body, clearly designed to allow her easy movement at the cost of some protection.

A samurai sword similar to Tempest’s was holstered on her back along with what looked like a powerful rifle, two smaller handguns on either side of her hips giving the impression that she was more than ready for whatever was to come her way.

“Well now… looks like you’re ready for a good time as well Enigma…”

She purred mischievously as she moved a little closer, looking up at him curiously, swaying her hips and tail slightly as she did so.

“You could say that… anyway you ready to go? I think this could get pretty interesting…”

She smiled at him as he looked away suddenly, unsure of how long he had been looking her over, trying to distract her as he crossed his arms and grinned confidently down at her.

“I thought you’d never ask…”

*****

“Striker, sir, the troops are in place, we’re all set to go… Captain Das and Enigma are ready as well for their part of the plan… we’ve given them one squad to back them up until they’re inside as requested…”

Striker saluted the officer as he finished, watching him head off once more as he continued his own preparations, thick body armour covering his chest and thighs as two soldiers attached a large rifle to his left arm.

Despite its size Striker held it easily, his body used to accommodating such weaponry from the various missions he’d had to complete before this, the rifle clearly packing some heavy firepower which would surely come in handy for the task at hand.

Another soldier equipped him with a large handgun; holstering it on his right thigh for easy access should he need it for close quarter combat.

“Thanks guys, you’d best get to your posts, something tells me they’re getting ready for us as well…”

He took out the handgun and checked it over, making sure it was primed and ready should he need it sooner than expected.

“Good luck Tempest… I think we’re all going to need it now…”

*****

“Well Tempest… you’re all set… as soon as we begin the attack you know what to do…”

Tempest nodded slowly to the Commander in acknowledgement, his wings feeling a little cramped behind him as the final adjustments were made to the suit, the rockets on his back and feet being checked over while a couple of officers finished off sealing up the seams.

He held his sword in his right hand, surprised that they hadn’t packed it inside the suit as well.

“What’s up with the sword Commander? Surely it’s no use to me until I reach the ship…”

Blitz looked back at him and smiled, taking a moment to reflect before he replied confidently.

“That sword was your father’s sword Tempest… the metal it is made from is tough enough to cut through any metal that exists on Earth… you might find it of better use in your hand then hidden away if you know what I mean… who knows what you’ll run into…”

The officers moved away from Tempest as they finished, watching as he moved around and tried various motions to gauge the flexibility of the suit, swinging his sword a few times before pausing and looking down to see Commander Blitz and Eclipse looking back at him.

“Well, looks like I’m ready to go, wish me luck OK?”

Eclipse walked over to him, looking over the suit quietly before leaning up and kissing the visor softly, wrapping her arms around him one last time.

“Come back alive this time Tempest… OK?”

He looked down at her as she said it, wrapping an arm around her as he pulled her close, the two of them silent until the Commander walked up to them and slowly pulled Eclipse away from him.

“We need to go Eclipse… good luck Tempest… your father would be proud of you…”

Tempest remained silent as he watched them leave, turning around slowly as he walked towards the air lock, patiently waiting as the doors closed behind him and the air depressurised in the chamber.

The silence was slowly maddening as the air lock doors finally opened in front of him, the vastness of space opening up before him, the darkness surrounding him endlessly save for the sight of the earth to his left as he drifted out of the ship.

His rockets activated once he was clear of the ship, giving himself a moment to adjust once more before he activated his communicator.

“Tempest reporting in, I’m ready to go, over.”

He looked around as he quickly worked out the rocket controls, amazed at the ease of his movements, the suit now feeling extremely light in the vacuum of space.

“This is Commander Blitz, move into position and await my signal, over.”

Tempest acknowledged the order, slowly making his way towards the front of the ship before taking a moment to focus himself, trying to prepare himself for whatever would be thrown his way by Armageddon’s troops.

“Showtime… let’s hope I can put in a good performance…”

*****

“Lord Armageddon… they’re ready to attack, our troops are ready and awaiting your orders...”

The large draconian figure grinned as he moved over to a large control panel and turned it on, two screens activating before him, Inferno and Chaos appearing on separate screens waiting patiently for him to speak.

“Move out… you know what you need to do… this time I want no mistakes… kill them all if you have to…”

Before they could reply he turned off the screens, uninterested in what they may have to say as he sat down before a large map screen, stroking his chin lightly as it lit up and projected the current army formations outside the ship.

“Seems like they’re not giving up just yet… this should be fun…”

********************

Chapter 19 – The beginning of the end

“MOVE OUT OMEGA TEAM! THEY’RE GETTING READY TO ATTACK!”

Tempest fired the booster rockets on his suit, joining up with his supporting battalion which consisted of four small fighter craft equipped with heavy armouring and plasma missiles; their sole aim to ensure the success of his mission.

He looked to his right to see the rest of the fleet lined up in formation, moving slowly towards the enemy before them, numerous ships covering the horizon before him.

The larger ships had the main firepower of the fleet, large cannons built into the front of them designed to do as much damage as possible, irrespective of whether it be friend or foe who got in the way of its attacks…

In front of them were several ships with what looked to Tempest as a diverse array of weaponry, spread out evenly across the defence lines, perhaps intended to protect the larger ships behind them.

All around them were countless smaller craft, similar to the ones within his battalion, their formation a little more loose as if in a zonal formation of some sort.

Behind the fleet the earth loomed large, its glow a little comforting despite many knowing that most likely they would never set foot on it again, given the reputation their enemies infamously had as a result of earlier events.

Tempest closed his eyes for a moment and whispered a silent prayer for them; slowly pulling out his sword he began his charge towards the enemy command ship, the other ships advancing with him in a diamond formation to defend him from any attacking vessels.

Looking ahead he saw the enemy fleet looming before them; their ships seemingly more randomised in design and shape and clearly more numerous, the wolf concluding that they were added to the fleet during previous conquests.

Behind the enemy fleet he could see the command ship, its size imposing even from their current location as it loomed ominously over the rest of the ships, several times larger than any other ship around including any their own.

“They must move from planet to planet in that thing… incredible…”

The young wolf’s thoughts were interrupted as he watched the enemy ships glow suddenly, realising that they had now begun to attack, several energy blasts flying towards the main part of Earth’s defence forces.

“I’d best not hang around too long if I want any chance of getting through this… that could get messy…”

Tempest increased the power to his rockets as the battalion worked their way towards their target, a little wary at not having been intercepted yet as through the corner of their visors they could see the battle continue relentlessly.

Both sides exchanged fire without hesitation, both sides taking heavy damage and casualties, the screams of the soldiers as their ships were destroyed left unheard in the silence of space.

“Dammit, they’re struggling… there must be too many of them…”

He instinctively looked up to see several small enemy ships heading towards them; he estimated at least ten of them were now targeting his battalion directly.

“Hmm… ten versus five… they clearly like to have a numbers advantage…”

He charged towards one of the ships and raised his sword, watching the pilot inside intently, the stunned pilot looking back at him clearly unsure of what he was seeing before him.

“Forgive me…”

Tempest swung his sword cleanly through the ship, the ship suddenly splitting into two causing it to explode, the wolf’s eyes shut as he made his way to another one of the attacking ships.

The pilots of the remaining enemy ships seemed to hesitate as they watched, finding themselves in disarray as the rest of the battalion fired at them, three more ships being torn apart as their attacks impacted.

“We need to take them down before they call for support! Make every shot count!”

The words bellowed into his communicator as he sliced through another ship just as easily as the first; the weak armour proving no match for his attacks, the wolf wasting no time at all as he clinically took down each ship one after the other.

He looked around to see all of them destroyed, his battalion returning to its original formation as they continued on their route once more, relieved to have made it through unharmed.

“Stay alert; they could have just been testing us…”

Tempest looked on as he saw the main battle continue before them, each fleet seemingly being worn down slowly, perhaps testing each other’s abilities before showing off their true firepower.

“Something’s not right about this… surely they can’t have destroyed so many civilisations like this… they must be hiding something…”

He looked around warily as they neared the command ship, noting that their presence was as of yet unaddressed, the enemy fleet clearly focussed elsewhere as the battle raged on.

Looking back once more he noted one ship that seemed to stick out compared to the others; it was far too cylindrical in shape and much larger than the others to be a normal battle ship, an ominous glow forming around it as if something was happening inside.

“Wait a second… no… it can’t be…”

Tempest shuddered as it dawned on him what it could be, pressing a button on the side of his helmet as he desperately tried to activate his communicator once more.

“COMMANDER! TAKE EVASIVE ACTION! THEY’RE GOING TO FIRE SOME SORT OF CANNON!”

He could only watch as the ship glowed brighter, before all of a sudden it emitted a huge powerful beam towards Earth’s defence forces.

“NO! COMMANDER MOVE THEM NOW!”

The beam struck the centre of the fleet, several larger ships unable to dodge the attack, being wiped out completely as most of the surrounding ships just managed to avoid the attack.

“Dammit! I’ve got to take that down before it does any more harm!”

The other ships with him slowed down as they watched Tempest head towards the cannon, unsure of what to do next, looking back to see the large gap in the Earth defence force’s formation caused by the attack.

“Tempest, what are you going to do?” one of them queried as they watched the wolf charge up his rockets once more.

“Small change of plan, hold your positions I’ll be right back…”

With that he charged towards the cannon, a few tears slowly forming in his eyes as his anger and rage overtook him, his eyes seemingly burning like fire as he neared the cannon.

“Tempest… stand down… we can take it down ourselves, focus on your mission!”

The Commander shouted at him repeatedly through the communicator as he moved closer, the wolf clearly not wanting to back off now, several enemy ships advancing towards his position as they realised the threat to their main weapon advancing rapidly.

“I’m sorry Commander… but there’s no way I’m going to let you all get wiped out by this thing… besides I think I can handle it, I’m getting used to this form now…”

The Commander sighed as he sat down once more in his seat, unable to do anything but watch him in the distance, taking a sip of his coffee before looking over to Eclipse solemnly.

“You don’t have time to do this Tempest…” he thought to himself, “…you don’t have time…”

********************

Chapter 20 – Dual Strike

“Let’s go Enigma…”

Das and Enigma quickly made their way to the edge of the cliff, looking down at the scout ship below as the rest of the team moved in formation behind them, several soldiers all equipped with heavy artillery ready for whatever was to come their way.

Taking out a pair of binoculars the large hybrid looked around the ship, hoping to find an easy opening to land near, the rest of the team looking down below them at the ground forces slowly advancing towards the enemy.

“There’s thousands of them… we’d best make sure we take this place down quickly before they do too much damage…” Enigma muttered to herself as she waited for Das to complete his survey.

“But Enigma… where would the fun be in that? Surely we’ve time to ‘play’ with some of them first, hmm?” Das queried, his infamous grin forming once more as he turned around to face the rest of the team.

Enigma couldn’t help but smile, walking over to him slowly as he offered her the binoculars, the rest of the team quietly looking around for any signs of an attack.

“Well… ok then… I guess you can do that while I set the bombs… how does that sound to you?” she replied playfully as she noticed the air vents positioned on top of the ship.

“Hmm… sounds good to me…” he licked his muzzle a little at the thought, the other team members shifting around a little nervously as he gave them a mischievous smile.

“Everyone, aim for those vents and be prepared for anything… they’re probably expecting us…” Enigma stated as she suddenly leapt off the edge of the cliff, flying through the air gracefully before landing lightly on the hull of the ship, rolling a few times as she looked around a little and gave the all clear to the rest of them.

“My… she is keen…” Das chuckled as he followed her, his landing a little more forceful as the metal hull buckled a little from the impact, standing proudly beside her as if unfazed by the leap.

The rest of the team watched them curiously; a little shocked at how easily they’d both leapt onto the ship, the distance a good 20 feet or more.

“Well I don’t know about you guys, but I’m using a glider…” one of the soldiers blurted out as he went next, using a small glider attachment he pulled out of his pack to soften his fall as he landed on the ship as well, the other soldiers taking the hint and following suit.

“Glad you could make it team, was wondering when you’d join us…”

Enigma gave Das a stern look as he said it, waiting patiently as he nodded back in reluctant submission to her, grabbing hold of the vent cover and pulling it off with ease before slowly lowering his head into it curiously.

“Seems to be deserted, they’re either stupid and waiting for us further inside to kill them painfully, or they’re smart and leaving us to it and focussing on Striker’s assault where if they’re lucky they might just be captured…”

Das looked back up at Enigma as he said it before leaping down into the room, watching carefully for any signs of a surprise attack as the others joined him once more.

“So far so good… let’s head this way, everyone spread out and stay alert, we don’t have much time…”

*****

“Everyone hold your positions, wait for my mark…”

Striker watched patiently as the enemy made its way slowly towards them, some of the soldiers firing randomly towards them as they inched their way forward, motioning to his troops to hold their formation.

The scout ship opened up several panels on its front, cannons appearing from within those areas, five of them laid out across the front hull ready to fire at any moment it seemed.

“Hmm… those could be a problem if we don’t take them down fast…” Striker thought to himself as he motioned for two squads nearby to move to higher ground, both carrying what looked like high powered bazooka cannons.

The enemy moved more and more forward, a small smirk appearing on the fox’s face as he saw them slowly move into range, raising his sword into the air, the Earth defence forces holding their ground as they waited for his command.

“FIRE!”

Striker swung his sword forward as the two squads fired their cannons at the enemy, huge energy blasts shredding through the enemy troops mercilessly, leaving those caught directly by the blast vaporised with anyone caught on the edge of the it losing whatever parts of their body were unable to get out of the way in time.

Brutal, but against these numbers we don’t have a choice…”Striker thought to himself as he raised his sword again and motioned for them to continue, wave after wave of attacks ploughing through the enemy troops with ease.

The enemy tried desperately to regroup what remained of the first wave of their attack, countless more troops seemingly moving out of the ship along with a few armoured tanks, the plating seemingly designed to reflect any energy attacks thrown in its general direction.

“I wonder how many of them they have down there… we’d best be pre…”

He found himself interrupted midway through his sentence as he heard a loud explosion to his left, looking over to see the first squad wiped out from the enemies counter attack.

Before he could react a second explosion was heard, the other squad suffering the same fate, cursing to himself as he motioned for the troops to spread out and fire at will.

The troops unleashed everything they had at the enemy, all the while trying to dodge the cannon blasts from the scout ship’s cannons as Striker ran over to one of the positions where the bazooka squads had been positioned.

Picking up one of the dropped bazookas he climbed up the remains of a nearby hill, aiming at the central cannon, waiting for his weapon to charge up fully so he could make sure to take it down.

The rest of the troops continued to counter the enemy onslaught, knowing failure was not an option, all secretly hoping that the team inside would succeed sooner rather than later.

Two more bazooka squads set up new positions and took down two of them, watching helplessly as the other cannons quickly detected their positions and fired, taking them out with ease.

Striker had no time to think as he locked onto the central cannon and fired, watching as the missile deflected away, confused at what he saw but panicking as he then realised why it had happened.

The ground around him shook violently as he lost his footing, the cannon strike hitting somewhere nearby as he felt his left side hit hard by the blast, his body thrown into the air violently by the impact.

He landed roughly, the ground taking little out of the fall as he lay there for a moment, his vision and hearing blurred greatly as he tried to refocus once more.

“This could be a little more difficult than I’d hoped…”

********************

Chapter 21 – Omega’s assault

“GET OUT OF MY WAY!”

Tempest growled as he found himself being slowed down by wave after wave of smaller enemy ships, his sword carving through them easily as he tried his best to dodge past them to get to the cannon as quickly as possible, noting that it seemed to now be recharging to fire once again.

“Damn these guys are annoying…”

He charged up his rockets once more, weaving his way through the ships more easily as they struggled to manoeuvre with him, some of them crashing into each other as they lost track of the positions of the other ships.

“I’m almost there…” Tempest kept telling himself as the cannon loomed before him, readying himself to strike it down before it could fully charge up.

“Tempest! Stop it! You don’t know what you’re doing!”

Tempest growled as he activated his communicator channel once again.

“What do you mean Commander? If I focus my energy enough I’m sure I can cut through that thing…”

There was a slight pause as Tempest landed on top of the cannon, raising his sword as he prepared to strike it as hard as he could.

“Stop Tempest! If you use too much power at once it’ll kill you!”

He paused suddenly as he heard the words, his sword still raised in the air as he waited for the Commander to continue.

“The more power you use up Tempest, the more you burn up your lifeforce…”

Eclipse looked over at the Commander as he continued, clearly worried and confused by the conversation.

“What on earth are you on about Blitz? This isn’t the time for this!”

Tempest looked around nervously for any more ships trying to take him out as he listened to the Commander.

“Your Omega form allows you to use your energy to however you wish to use it, but if you use too much without recharging it you’ll kill yourself, your body can’t take the continuous strain!” the Commander replied, his voice a little softer this time.

“You mean if I keep going at this pace I’ll die right?” Tempest coldly replied, standing up once more as he started to focus his power.

Eclipse looked at the Commander in horror, unable to speak as the Commander simply carried on his explanation.

“Yes Tempest, which is why you need to focus purely on taking down Armageddon…”

Tempest paused as he saw the enemy ships regrouping and heading towards him once more, knowing that he had to act fast.

“Figures… all this time you’ve known right? Anyway it doesn’t matter, I figured it all out a little while back, something’s telling me I’ve still got a fair amount of power in reserve too anyway, so I wouldn’t worry just yet…”

With that he swung his sword down into the cannon, a large gouge forming as he severed a large section of it, watching as it started to tear apart from the vacuum of space surrounding it.

“Now that’s done I’d best get out of here, looks like it’s about to blow.”

Tempest fired up his rockets once more as he headed back to his waiting battalion, the resulting explosion from the cannon taking out most of the nearby ships, the shockwaves reaching even as far as their command ship.

“No time to waste team, let’s get going…”

*****

“Well, that should make things a little easier for us I guess, not that we couldn’t have done that ourselves at some point…” Blitz muttered to himself quietly, the other officers in the room watching the events unfold before them seemingly in shock.

“How could you Blitz! You’re going to kill him!” Eclipse shouted as she walked over, her face full of worry as he looked straight back at her, his face cold and emotionless.

“I had to Eclipse… he’s our best chance of defeating Armageddon… I have to do whatever it takes to end this…”

Before he could continue she slapped him hard across the face, the Commander taking it full on, staying silent as he waited for her to finish.

“How dare you… he’s given you everything and all you can do is treat him like a pawn in your great master plan…”

He looked down at her, watching as her stern expression slowly turned into one of deep upset, taking one of his paws and running it across her cheek slowly.

“I’m sorry Eclipse…I truly am… but right now Tempest needs to do this… there’s something I need to tell you about his past which may clear things up… let’s go somewhere quiet and talk it over OK?”

She nodded slowly as she followed him out of the room, the other officers silent as they continued their work, again perplexed by the events which were unfolding around them.

*****

“We’re almost there! Hold the formation! We can do this!”

They found themselves faced once again by countless enemy ships, Tempest’s attacks carving them up with ease as he fought his way through them, nearing the large command ship now as it loomed before him ominously.

The other ships with him were struggling to hold their own as the enemy intensified its efforts, their ships taking heavy damage, the pilots knowing that if they kept going they were in serious trouble.

“Tempest! Go on ahead! We’ll get carved up if we go any further!”

The pilots veered away from the ship’s defensive forces, their ships shaking violently from the explosions which seemed to surround them, knowing they could no longer help him in his mission but relieved to have gotten so far in one piece.

“I’ll be OK, get out of before it’s too late! Thank you guys; I couldn’t have done it without you…”

Tempest looked down and saw an open hangar before him, the ship’s defences unable to match his speed as he charged towards the entrance, knowing things were not going to get any easier once he was inside.

The ships backed off as he reached the command ship’s hangar, not wanting to fire on it as he landed quickly, looking around carefully for any signs of the enemy.

“Hmm… empty… I wonder what they’re planning…”

Heading towards the air lock he then moved into the ship, removing the space suit and hiding it carefully near to the hangar as he made his way through the ship, a little unsure of where to head but his instincts telling him to head up for some reason.

He carried on through several corridors before finding himself in a large spacious room, nothing inside of it save for a large table which was positioned in the middle of it, the greyness of the walls and neon lights giving the room a cold lifeless feel.

“Hmm… lovely décor… clearly Armageddon’s not one for home improvements…” Tempest thought to himself idly as he continued through the room, stopping suddenly as he sensed someone else behind him.

“I was wondering when you’d show up Tempest…”

“Well Chaos… I’d hate to disappoint you of all people…”

He heard a light chuckle as the large tiger slowly made his way towards him, Tempest turning round to face him, the feline looking at the wolf’s new form curiously.

“Well Tempest… you look a little different this time… the wings are a nice touch I’ll give you that… but don’t think for a moment some aesthetic changes will help you…”

Tempest grinned at him as he pulled out his sword once more, readying himself for whatever Chaos had in mind.

“Believe what you want Chaos… but you’re going be a good kitty and tell me where Armageddon is… else I’ll kill you as well…”

The tiger roared with delight at the seemingly idle threat, pulling out his own sword as he grinned back at him.

“Oh my, that almost sounded like a threat! You really think I’d just tell you?”

Tempest moved back a little as he took a defensive stance, his wings flaring out behind him as he readied himself to strike.

“By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you’d told me everything Chaos…”

********************

Chapter 22 – Hidden pasts…

“You know Tempest, for someone who’s been beaten so easily before you seem a little over confident in your abilities… do you always get yourself pounded to a pulp the first time you face an opponent or something?”

Tempest growled a little as their previous encounter flashed through his mind, the images of Chaos spearing his chest with his blade still painfully clear.

“Well Chaos, let’s just say this time I’m not going to go down so easily…”

The larger feline looked at him curiously as he lowered his sword, a wide grin forming as he moved slowly forward, stopping a small distance away from Tempest as his tail flicked wildly with anticipation.

“Enough chatter… I want to get this over with so I can head down to your pitiful planet and make sure that your friends are put out of the picture as well… perhaps I’ll start with… what was her name again… oh yes… Eclipse… I recall Inferno saying something about her…”

Chaos chuckled to himself as he waited for Tempest to react, a little surprised to see the wolf seemingly ignoring him, his eyes closed as if in some meditative state.

“Hmm… already praying for me to spare her are you? That’s so touching… perhaps I’ll kill her quickly then… then again perhaps I’ll play around with her for a while first… if you know what I mean…”

Tempest remained still with his breathing now heavy, Chaos watching as the wolf simply ignored his taunts as he focussed himself more.

“I need to stay calm… he’s trying to provoke me… besides I don’t have time for this…”

Tempest’s mind swam with countless thoughts; so much had happened to him and his team in the last few weeks, with everything that had happened he now found himself running rapidly out of time to set things right, the odds stacked against him heavily despite his newfound powers…

“I have to stop Armageddon… although first I need to take down Chaos… but how can I do all of this without burning up my lifeforce?”

Tempest tried hard to work out his strategy; pausing as he realised that whatever the outcome was, this was his only chance he was going to get to make a difference.

After all the years of being protected by others, he finally had a way to repay their love and trust in him.

It was now or never.

“Come on Tempest… I haven’t even started and you’re standing there in submission? You’re a disgrace… we should have killed you off while you were still a pup…”

Tempest snapped out of his thoughts as he looked back at Chaos, growling as he thrust his sword forward and readied himself to attack.

“I don’t know what you mean by that Chaos… but I think now’s a good time to drag it out of you…”

The large feline roared with delight, licking his lips as he leapt into the air, readying himself to strike down Tempest from the air.

“Tell you what Tempest… defeat me and I’ll tell you more!”

Tempest watched the tiger carefully as he flipped away from him, the feline grinning as he landed with ease and pursued his adversary, slashing wildly at the wolf as he dodged each attack as best he could.

“Damn, I need to be careful, he’s just as random in his technique as last time…”

Tempest patiently blocked the attacks as he then struck back at Chaos, their blades clashing furiously as they both tried hard to find a hole in the other’s defences, the feline’s grin widening as he suddenly flipped back away from the wolf.

“Ack!”

Tempest found himself taking a footpaw fully on the muzzle, reeling backwards as he landed heavily on the ground, quickly picking himself up as Chaos’ footpaw slammed inches away from his head.

“Mmm… you seem to be a little more responsive Tempest… it’s going to be much more fun killing you this time I think…”

Tempest flipped back up onto his feet quickly as he said it, unleashing a flurry of attacks at Chaos, watching as the feline struggled to deflect his attacks this time.

He grinned wildly as finally he struck the large feline, finding a brief moment of weakness in the tiger’s defences as a large gash appeared on his cheek, moving away as Chaos tried to counter but found himself swinging at air.

“Well Chaos, seems you’re a little less responsive this time… it’s going to be fun taking you down I think…”

Chaos roared angrily at the mocking comments, wiping a paw over his cheek, noting the cut to be fairly deep but nothing to be worried about just yet.

“Hmm… I guess I should try a little harder then… I’d hate for you not to find out what really happened to your family now… don’t you agree?”

Tempest growled loudly as he charged at Chaos again, kicking him down onto his back as he managed to slice the tiger’s chest this time, the feline laughing hard as kicked the wolf off of him.

“My… you are a curious wolf aren’t you?”

Chaos stood up once more as he looked down at the gash across his chest, his fur slowly matting up from the blood as he looked back at Tempest and grinned.

“JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED CHAOS!” Tempest roared as he charged again, surprised as the feline dodged his attack and struck back at him, unable to avoid it fully as a large gash appeared on his left arm.

“How is he dodging my attacks? That should have cut his arm clean off! The last time we fought he was barely able to dodge any of my techniques… I’d better end this quickly… something doesn’t seem right…” Chaos thought to himself as he looked at Tempest and smirked evilly.

“Very well Tempest… I think I will…”

The young wolf looked at him suspiciously, moving back a little as he readied himself for any surprise attacks the feline might have had planned for him next.

“Remember that night when your parents were killed? I guess not… you were just a worthless pup, abandoned in the snow by your parents right? Only for good old ‘Commander’ Blitz to find you and rescue you before you starved to death like the pitiful creature you are…”

Tempest listened carefully as Chaos continued, a little unsure as to where he was going but wanting to know what the feline was trying to say.

“There’s one thing you should know Tempest… Blitz is not who you think he is… and your parents weren’t killed when your home burned down that night…”

Tempest growled loudly as he continued, the vagueness of his statements slowly frustrating him more and more.

“What’s you point Chaos? What do you mean my parents weren’t killed in that fire?”

Chaos grinned evilly as he looked back at Tempest, his eyes seemingly piercing into Tempest’s mind as he licked his lips ferally.

“My you are naïve, all these years Blitz must have been feeding you lies, it seems they’ve done the trick of hiding the truth too… anyway they weren’t killed in the fire Tempest, I know this because…”

Chaos paused as he savoured the moment, the silence around them deafeningly loud to Tempest as he waited for the tiger to finish.

“…because I killed them myself first…”

********************

Chapter 23 – Unleash the Dazen

“I’m amazed we’ve yet to see any guards around here, you think they know we’re here?”

Enigma looked up at Das curiously as they proceeded carefully down the darkened corridor, the faint buzz of the neon lights and various electronic panels the only sounds to be heard, the large hybrid grinning back at her confidently.

“I doubt it, even if they knew I’m sure they’re not stupid or suicidal enough to take me on anyway, surely you’ve realised that by now…”

Enigma smiled at him as he said it, his overpowering confidence reassuring to her somehow.

“I guess so Das… seems only Tempest’s managed to push you to your limits so far…” she replied teasingly, watching with delight as he looked back at her with complete disdain.

“Push me to my limits? Oh come on Enigma, that pup barely got me started… I was just letting him think he could beat me so that he wouldn’t get discouraged and such…”

Enigma purred a little as she nodded back at him in acknowledgement, pointing towards a large room at the end of the corridor, a large doorway positioned ominously at the end of it.

“Well I guess we can ‘argue’ that later Das, seems we’ve arrived at our target… I’ll just head over and…”

Before she could continue Das wrapped an arm firmly around her waist and lifted her up in the air, Enigma gasping at the force of his efforts as he leapt back expertly a good ten or so feet, the rest of the team spreading out around him in anticipation of whatever the large hybrid had reacted to.

“Fresh meat ahead… stay put…” Das growled lowly, placing Enigma down beside him as he slowly walked towards the large panelled door, motioning for them to stay back as he got closer.

“D… Das! What are you doing?” Enigma whispered to him.

“Hush Enigma… Das is going to have a little fun…” he coolly replied, grinning back at her as he stopped just before the door, pausing for a moment as if waiting for something to happen.

“Well? Come on then you cowards! I ain’t got all day…”

There was another long pause before several enemy soldiers ran into the room from hidden panels on both sides of the corridor, circling around him in an offensive formation, all equipped with heavy armour and weaponry.

“Hmm… there must be at least a hundred of them…” the hybrid said to himself, loud enough for the enemy soldiers to just about hear him as well.

“Such a pity… I was hoping for much more resistance than this… ah well… I guess I’d better kill them all now and get this over with…”

The enemy soldiers seemed a little flustered as he said it, one larger soldier near the back motioning for a few of them to attach, Das chuckling as four soldiers ran towards him with their rifles at the ready.

“Dammit… you guys really are idiots!”

Das roared as he leapt towards them, his powerful claws shredding through the chest plates of two of the soldiers, both of them collapsing on the floor instantly as their chests were easily shredded by his claws.

The remaining two soldiers started to panic as they fired several shots at him, their aim clearly off, Das roaring with delight as he leapt into the air and dodged them all with ease.

“What’s the matter, are you scared of being so horribly outclassed? Don’t worry I’ll end this quickly for you…”

Das landed in between them, watching their fearful expressions intently as he sent one of them flying with a powerful kick to the face, watching with a certain air of satisfaction as they slumped heavily against a nearby wall.

Before the remaining soldier could react Das’ tail had wrapped itself around his neck, squeezing it firmly as suddenly there was a loud crack, the powerful hybrid watching with delight as their body fell limp in his hold.

He purred a little as he dropped the soldier to the ground, licking his claws clean as he looked around at the rest of the enemy soldiers.

“Well… I hope you were all paying attention… because you’re next…”

Das’ eyes glowed with delight as he watched their reactions, several of them shaking a little after witnessing his ruthless display of power and agility.

The large hybrid chuckled to himself as he pulled out his large sword, swinging it around a few times as he posed for them, his tail pounding hard on the metal floor as it waved around wildly in anticipation of their next attack.

As he continued his display, Enigma and the rest of the team made their way across to the large doorway, the team protecting her as she slowly unlocked it with a small device she had brought along.

“We’ll keep them away from the engine room… although I think Das is probably going to handle this one himself…” one of them told her as she continued.

“Alright… just make sure he doesn’t get too carried away I guess...” she replied, looking over at Das one more time before the doors finally opened, quietly making her way into the darkened engine room.

Das smirked as he watched her enter the engine room, the enemy troops finally making their move as the same soldier from before shouted out more commands, the soldiers aiming their rifles at him as they began their attack.

He roared with delight as he charged towards the mass of enemy soldiers, slicing his sword through them with ease while still expertly dodging their attacks, the enemy soldiers spreading out as they tried desperately to hit him.

Das watched as more troops filtered into the room, several hundred of them now surrounding him as he continued his merciless onslaught.

“Ha ha ha… is that all you’ve got?” he shouted mockingly as he struck another group of soldiers down, pausing briefly as he heard the large door to the engine room suddenly lock down once more, Enigma clearly still inside.

“Hmm… something’s not right about this…”

*****

Enigma walked into the engine room, surprised as she found the large door lock down again behind her, the room falling into darkness as the light from the other room was sealed off completely.

“Hmph… that’s just typical…”

She pulled out her rifle as she moved slowly forward, her feline senses allowing her to navigate easily enough to the engine cores, looking around a little before she suddenly paused and fired a shot towards one of the higher ledges.

The explosion from the blast impact lit the room for a brief moment, Enigma growling a little as she saw a large draconian figure leap away from where she’d hit, firing several more shots at the rapidly moving shadow.

“Come on out Inferno, I know you’re up there!”

She blinked a little as suddenly the lights came on, her eyes adjusting quickly as she saw Inferno standing before her, his form looming over hers easily.

“Hello sweetie, did you miss me?”

Before she could reply his tail lashed out at her, knocking her rifle out of her hands as she instinctively leapt away from him, watching as he chuckled a little at her reaction.

“My… you seem tense Enigma, is something the matter?”

Enigma looked back at him roared powerfully, pulling out her sword quickly in anticipation of another quick attack.

“You tried to kill Tempest! How could you? I thought you… you…”

“ ‘…loved me?’ Oh my Enigma, you are naïve, as if I would ever mate with such a weak and lowly species!”

Inferno grinned widely as he said it, pulling out his own sword slowly as he walked slowly towards her, the tiger’s expression one of pure hatred now as she growled ferally at him.

“And now Enigma, you will die a lonely and miserable death at my hands…”

********************

Chapter 24 – Inner Demons

“W… what did you say?”

Chaos smirked a little as he watched Tempest intently, noting the shocked expression now on his face, Tempest’s grip on his sword tightening a little.

“I guess Blitz never did have the nerve to tell you the truth… my word he’s such a coward… always letting everyone else do his dirty work just to save his own fur…”

Tempest growled loudly as he said it, surprised as Chaos re-holstered his sword and crossed his arms, as if to indicate he did not want to continue fighting just yet.

“I think now’s a good time to tell you the truth Tempest… I can’t wait to see your face when I’m finished though… not that telling you all this will do you much good anyway seeing as once I’ve finish I’ll be cutting you apart…”

Tempest cursed quietly to himself as he re-holstered his own sword, waiting impatiently for Chaos to continue the story.

“Very well… I guess you never really knew your parents did you? I did though… you see, I used to work with them…”

“You mean…” Tempest’s eyes widened a little in surprise.

“Yes Tempest, your father used to work for Armageddon… and so did your mother… it was a long time back now mind, but after a while the two of them decided to go ‘AWOL’ and made their way here to Earth… we thought we’d lost them… that was of course until one of our small scout ships found them a few years later…”

“THAT’S NOT TRUE! MY FATHER WOULD NEVER WORK FOR SUCH A MONSTER!” Tempest roared out, clearly angered at the accusations being made by him.

Chaos roared with delight at his reaction, moving a little closer as he continued further.

“Oh really Tempest, how would you know? You were a mere pup at the time… anyway Armageddon sent orders for them to be killed for treason… guess who was the lucky kitty who got the job hmm?”

The large tiger licked his lips as he said it, purring a little as still he continued, loving the moment intensely.

“That coward Blitz went with them of course, but despite our efforts we couldn’t find him anywhere … a good thing for him really, else I’d have sliced him apart by now too… anyway I digress… your father was waiting for us by the time we arrived, so we decided to settle things the good old fashioned way if you know what I mean…”

Suddenly he pulled out his sword again, roaring powerfully as he charged towards Tempest, watching as the wolf leapt back defensively and pulled out his sword as well.

“Enough chat… let me show you first hand Tempest! I’ll kill you just as I did your father!”

Tempest growled as he dodged Chaos’ furious flurry of attacks, his mind clouded heavily from the tiger’s words, conflicted as to whether he should believe them or not after all that had happened so far.

“After all these years… Blitz… have you really been deceiving me?”

Chaos grinned with delight as he saw openings appearing in Tempest’s defences, clearly distracted as the larger feline continued his onslaught, the wolf unable to block all of his attacks as he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his right arm.

“Gaaah!”

Tempest collapsed to the floor from the pain, both his arms now bleeding heavily from the wounds inflicted by Chaos, the large tiger looking down at him coldly.

“That’s just how your father looked like before I killed him too… it’s funny how some things repeat like that really…”

Tempest looked up at him defiantly, growling deeply as he felt his anger building up rapidly inside him, his body shaking a little from the loss of blood.

“You’re pathetic. You’ve survived death so many times and yet here I find you on your knees before me as if begging me to kill you… just like your father did…”

Tempest remained silent, refusing to look up at Chaos as he continued his taunts relentlessly.

“You can’t defeat us Tempest, so many have tried and failed before you, so what makes you think you can do better?”

He kneeled down and lifted up Tempest’s muzzle, staring at him intently, his breath heavy as he held him there for what seemed like an eternity.

“I’ve killed your father, I’ve killed your mother… and now I will kill you… perhaps you’ll scream just as loudly as your mother did when I cut her apart limb by limb… how do you like the sound of that Tempest?”

Chaos’ grin widened as he watched Tempest’s eyes burn with hatred, letting go of his muzzle as he stood up again, raising his sword in the air over the wolf in preparation for his final attack.

“Good bye Tempest… say hello to your mother for me…”

The tiger roared as he swung his sword down towards Tempest, watching as he connected with his right shoulder, surprised as he suddenly found himself unable to push down any further.

“Wh... what the?”

He looked down curiously as Tempest’s body started to glow brightly, a paw grabbing hold of Chaos’ sword as the wolf looked up at him and growled powerfully.

“…You really think you can kill me so easily?”

Chaos was stunned for a moment as he watched Tempest’s fur change colour, seemingly inverting it’s colours as the white patches turned to black and vice versa, the edges between the two colours becoming much more ragged as they finished changing.

Tempest’s body seemed to bulk up a little as the glow started to fade around him, his wings mutating somehow into a more draconic shape, seemingly larger as they stretched out behind him.

“What the hell are you Tempest?” Chaos shouted at him, pushing his sword down defiantly as he waited impatiently for some sort of answer to his question.

Tempest slowly looked up at the large tiger, a wide grin on his face as Chaos noticed his eyes were now a deep red colour, perhaps a reflection of the anger which now burned powerfully inside of him.

Chaos watched helplessly as before he could react Tempest struck him hard in the chest with his right fist, the large tiger flying backwards as he slammed hard into the wall behind him, panting heavily as he felt the wind knocked out of him from the impact.

Slowly Tempest stood up and stretched a little, picking up his sword as he walked towards Chaos and suddenly speared the tiger’s chest with his blade, grinning as he watched him howl in pain.

“You want to know what I am Chaos? That’s an easy one… I’m the death of you."

********************

Chapter 25 – Beta’s Fury

“Heh… Tempest… you seem to have a lot of luck on your side to catch me off guard like that so easily…”

Tempest growled as he pushed the blade deeper, watching as Chaos winced a little from the pain, unable to move now without doing himself more harm than good.

“Or maybe I’m just better than you Chaos… ever consider that?”

Tempest smirked as he pushed the blade into Chaos further, watching with delight as the large feline howled from the pain of the blade finally pushing all the way through his body, slowly pulling it back out again as he watched Chaos slump before him from the pain.

“Mmm… that felt… good…” Tempest muttered quietly to himself as he looked down at his sword, now stained a dark red colour, blood dripping slowly from the tip as he raised it up a little over Chaos.

“C… curse you Tempest…”

The wolf looked down at his opponent and grinned a little as he suddenly leapt at him, a swift kick to the feline’s muzzle sending him flying as once again he slumped heavily to the ground.

“Based on the way I look now… I think I already am Chaos… besides you’re in no state to do me any harm… and to think a few minutes ago you were so confident about killing me too… now that’s pathetic…”

Tempest watched with a feral delight as Chaos slowly tried to pick himself up, the sight of his bloodied body sending shivers through his body, the small piece of his mind which was still thinking logically realising that his feral instincts were now slowly taking over as his anger consumed him…

Chaos was no longer his enemy… the tiger was now his prey.

“Well Chaos… this is getting a little dull… how about you tell me more about your part in killing my parents? Perhaps you can atone for your sins before I finish you off…”

Chaos looked up at him and grinned as he stood up slowly; clutching his chest wound as he picked up his sword and tried to compose himself once more.

“It’s simple Tempest… I guess I’ll torment you a little seeing as you’re so eager… a long time ago your father joined Armageddon’s forces, he was a lot like you really, albeit ruthlessly efficient at his work if you know what I mean…”

Chaos stretched a little as his wound slowly clotted up, moving a little closer to Tempest as he continued.

“Of course, that all changed when she turned up… one of our conquests led to her being captured for some experiments or whatever Armageddon had in mind… she was pretty cute though, who knows perhaps he was looking for a m…”

Before he could finish Tempest roared powerfully as he leapt forward and punched Chaos hard across the muzzle, the feline unable to dodge once more as he slammed hard against the wall behind him, panting heavily as he wiped away the blood from his muzzle.

“Dammit Tempest… the point is I don’t know what he was planning for her, but it seems your father took an interest in her… a few weeks later both of them disappeared…”

Tempest growled as he swung his sword at Chaos impatiently.

“Something tells me you don’t know much else of worth about what happened Chaos…”

Chaos smirked once more as he simply continued, ignoring the wolf’s reactions.

“Oh, but surely you’d love to know how I killed them, hmm? How I cut your father apart limb by limb as he tried in vain to stop me, before I went to your home and beat your mother to death… surely you want me to tell everything right? I bet you’d love to know how I then went and killed all the idiots who tried to stop me as I made my escape too… I’m sure Eclipse would too…”

The large feline looked at Tempest curiously as his body seemed to be glowing with a red haze, his eyes a brighter red than before as he stared back at the tiger, stretching out his wings as if preparing to strike once more.

“You monster… how dare you bring her and her family into this too… I’ve heard enough from you…”

Chaos growled as he leapt forward at Tempest, hoping to catch him by surprise, swinging his sword at him wildly but shocked as he found himself cutting through air with the wolf nowhere to be seen.

“It’s over Chaos…”

The tiger found himself going numb as his back twitched violently, unable to move as he collapsed to his knees once more, unable to feel any pain as if his nerves had snapped suddenly.

“W… where did he go? I… I can’t s… stand up…”

Chaos looked up slowly as he suddenly saw Tempest looming over him, his eyes cold and emotionless as he then sliced at both of the tigers’ arms, watching blankly as the feline howled out in pain as both his arms went limp.

“Is this how you did it Chaos? Is this how you killed my father?”

Chaos watched helplessly as Tempest then continued, slicing at his legs repeatedly, the tiger wincing a little as he found himself unable to move any part of his body now.

“Tell me Chaos… how does it feel? To be so helpless… so completely defeated… by someone who you thought was so weak as well?”

The tiger was unable to reply as Tempest grabbed the spiked hair on his head and held him in a kneeling position, knowing Chaos would have collapsed otherwise, his expression now one of feral delight as he watched the feline shiver from the shock caused from the heavy loss of blood.

“I’ve shown you too much mercy Chaos…”

Tempest paused as he watched the feline chuckle a little as he said it, the wolf growling as he raised Chaos a little higher towards his muzzle.

“What’s so funny Chaos?”

Chaos looked at him and grinned slightly, his body still limp from his wounds as he slowly tried to speak.

“Y… you’re too w… weak to beat him T… Tempest… n… now he’ll be p… preparing the Apocalypse c.. cannon… it’s over… y… you lost…”

“What do you mean Chaos?” Tempest growled out as he lifted Chaos higher.

“Ack… y… you didn’t think he’d use this s… ship to carry his best weaponry… d… did you? He’ll be… be preparing his Mech suit ‘Apoc… Apocalypse’ to wipe you all out… besides… you’re too w… weakened now to stop him… j… just give up…”

Tempest remained silent as he slowly let go of Chaos, watching him fall to his knees as he raised his sword and sliced at the feline once more, the tiger staring with shock back at Tempest as he collapsed to the ground.

The wolf looked down at him laying motionless, the silence around him almost maddening as he holstered his sword and slowly walked away towards the large panelled doors nearby.

“Forgive me Eclipse… I… I never knew…”

Tempest suddenly howled powerfully as he felt his body shake violently, his body reverting back to his Omega form, the pain intense as he collapsed to the ground.

He felt himself unable to move, his soft angelic wings covering him as the pain of his wounds finally kicked in, his eyes slowly closing from fatigue as he realised that this time there was no one to help him in his mission.

“No… not yet… I still have to stop Armageddon…”

He felt himself falling unconscious slowly, the sound of alarms in the background muting out slowly as he tried desperately to stay awake, watching as the blood from his wounds slowly pooled around him.

“I… I won’t give up…”

********************

Chapter 26 – Enigma Strikes

“Striker… sir… are you OK?”

The fox found himself being picked up to his feet slowly, looking around to see several soldiers around him in a defensive formation as one handed him an automatic rifle.

“Yeah… I’m ok… those cannons just caught me off guard that’s all… anyway… damage report… what’s our status?”

One of the soldiers looked back at him and nodded.

“The cannons are finally taken down, but they’ve far more ground troops than we expected… we’ve retreated to the hills to try and wear down their forces as much as possible… but I don’t think we can hold out, their troops seem pretty organised…”

Striker nodded as he headed over to one of the higher hills, looking down as he saw the enemy troops before him, motioning for his own troops to hold their ground and reinforce their defensive lines.

“Well it seems we can hold them off for a little while longer… let’s hope Das and Enigma are doing better than we are…”

*****

Enigma purred a little as she slowly paced around the room, matching Inferno’s movements as he looked back at her curiously.

“Well Enigma, you seem highly amused about something… care to share what’s so funny about your imminent death?”

Enigma smiled back at him, bearing her fangs a little as her tail wrapped a little around her leg.

“Hehe… I just find your arrogance amusing, that’s all…”

Inferno snorted a little at her remark, moving closer as he watched her curiously.

“You do realise that I’m one of the greatest sword fighters in existence don’t you Enigma? You don’t stand a chance with that toothpick you call a sword…”

The tiger purred again as suddenly she paused, looking back at him with great intent.

“What makes you think I’m going to use it?”

Inferno growled as he leapt onto one of the higher ledges, just in time to dodge the blasts from the two small handheld guns she had pulled out from the holsters around her waist, the speed of her movements so fast that he barely was able to keep up with them.

“Well now Enigma… you are full of surprises…” Inferno roared as he leapt from ledge to ledge, dodging her attacks as best he could as she leapt up and followed him expertly.

“Perhaps that’s why I’m called Enigma silly…” she playfully replied as she continued to pursue him, trying as best she could to guess his movements as finally she struck him hard on the shoulder.

Enigma watched him fall to the ground below as he hid behind a large crate, knowing he was far from beaten, simply pausing for a moment to catch his breath.

“He he… lucky shot… as if that toy could do me any serious harm anyway…”

Enigma purred a little louder as she took the opportunity to make some adjustments to her weapons, dismantling them with her claws, looking around for any signs of a surprise attack from the dragon.

“So… just tell me one thing Inferno… why all the deceit?”

There was a slight pause, Enigma pausing herself in case he heard her working on her weapons, waiting patiently before Inferno spoke up once more.

“Well… there’s not much to it really… Armageddon decided to send me over to Earth a long time back to integrate with your defence forces… over time I sent him details of your defences, weaponry and anything else that could give us an advantage… of course Tempest needed to be taken out of the picture before he could do any harm to our plans… that part was pretty easy now I think about it…”

“He he he… oh my, for someone so intent on getting intel on us, you sure do miss some big events don’t you?” Enigma smirked a little as she said it, still working away on her weapons as she tried to fuse the two handheld guns together.

“And what does that mean Enigma? He was blown up in the scout ship explosion…”

The tigress chuckled a little as she interrupted him once again.

“He’s still alive you silly dwaggy…”

“IMPOSSIBLE! How can you…”

Inferno paused as he looked up to see Enigma standing over him, a larger handgun now in her hand as she gave him a playful wink and smile, firing at him as the blast sent him flying into the wall behind him.

“Well, with instincts like that I’m not surprised you didn’t sense Das waiting for you all to retreat from the ship…”

Inferno roared as he slammed his fist into the wall, making a large dent as he tried to vent his frustrations as much as possible.

“DAS!? And since when was he involved in this? Dammit I have to kill that furball too?”

Enigma fired another shot at him as he slammed back into the wall.

“Tsk… tsk… no name calling now sweetie… he’s a lot nicer than you are for a start…”

Inferno grinned as he stood up once more, picking up his sword as he watched Enigma curiously.

“Oh really now… he must have softened up a little then… anyway no matter you won’t be seeing him again anyway…”

Enigma shrieked in surprise as Inferno leapt at her, slashing at the large handgun she held in her paws as it split into two, grinning as he spun around on the spot and kicked her hard into the air.

She yelped in surprise before grabbing onto a higher ledge, panting heavily from the impact of his attack, looking around and realising that her sword was nowhere to be seen.

“Hmm… out of toys now? Perhaps I should kill you quickly so I can focus on taking out Tempest… how does that sound hmm?”

Enigma watched as he leapt towards her; despite taking two heavy plasma attacks he seemed just as alert as ever, unleashing a flurry of attacks at her as she tried hard to block them.

She hissed loudly as she took several punches to her face, the larger dragon watching her recoil in pain with delight before he picked her up and threw her across the room, laughing as she landed heavily, several boxes falling onto her from the impact.

“So easy… no wonder you rely on all those weapons, your physical strength is pathetic…”

There was a slight pause before Enigma stepped out of the fallen boxes, her body covered in bruises and cuts as she looked up at him and grinned widely.

“If that’s the case, why don’t you come down here and finish me off you coward?”

Inferno growled as she said it, leaping off the ledge as he dived down at her, his sword raised as he sped up rapidly, clearly intending to strike her down once and for all.

“NO ONE CALLS ME A COWARD!”

Enigma watched him carefully; just before he reached her she pulled her sword from behind her using her tail, raising it towards him as it went straight through his chest.

Inferno gasped in surprise, unable to speak as he felt the blade drive through his heart cleanly, her paw covered in blood as she held her blade to him tightly.

“Inferno… you fool… I… I loved you…”

His body was motionless as she held him against her for a moment, looking him in the eyes deeply, a solitary tear trickling down her cheek as she did so.

“E…Enigma… imp... possible…”

She yelped a little as the pain of his blade cutting into her shoulder finally kicked in, pushing him off of her as she clutched the blade with her paw and pulled it out of her slowly, throwing it away as she collapsed on the floor exhausted.

“Das… it’s up to you now…”

********************

Chapter 27 – Truths uncovered…

“I think it’s time you told me everything Blitz…”

The Commander sighed as he sat down beside her and held her hand tightly, looking her in the eyes intently as she waited patiently for him to explain.

“It started a long time ago… when neither you or Tempest were even born…”

Eclipse looked back at him curiously, “How do you mean?”

“Well… I’ll try to keep it short… Tempest’s mother was the last of a powerful race who were wiped out nearly 30 years ago by Armageddon’s forces… He saw them as a threat, a race that if left to evolve would surpass him in every way…”

He stood up again as he walked over to the coffee machine, pouring himself a cup before sitting down beside her once more.

“As a result he sent his full army there; the battle dealt heavy casualties to both sides but in the end Armageddon’s troops outnumbered them greatly… as part of their terms of surrender he took their princess to be his slave… but it was all a ploy as once they left he blew up the whole planet, wiping them out of existence in one fell swoop…”

Eclipse looked at him in shock, unsure of what to say before finally collecting her thoughts.

“But why not just blow up the planet in the first place?”

Commander Blitz nodded as he continued once more.

“Well, he wanted one of them to experiment on… to find out the source of their power for his own selfish gains… however that’s when Tempest’s father came into the picture… the moment he found out he made the decision to escape and take her as far away from Armageddon as possible… of course I took them into the defence forces in the hope we could protect them…”

The room was silent as Eclipse urged him to continue, even making him a second cup of coffee to spur him on.

“Unfortunately it wouldn’t take them long to find them… one bitter winter, when Tempest was a mere pup they sent Chaos to Earth… to assassinate them both; as far as he was concerned they were no longer of any use to him…”

Eclipse watched him as he sighed heavily, pausing as he sipped from his cup repeatedly.

“His father fought bravely, but Chaos was more than a match for him as he shredded him to pieces, before moving onto his mother… in her haste she had to drop Tempest outside in the heavy snow in the hope that his scent would be masked by the heavy snowfall…”

The young fox squeezed his paw a little, urging him to continue.

“Of course she was no match for Chaos either… by the time we got there they were both dead and Chaos had escaped… however we were able to find Tempest… he seemed a little shaken but after a little warmth and food he seemed alright… it still surprises me how he didn’t die out there considering the freezing temperatures…”

Eclipse looked up at him, her paw squeezing harder then ever.

“But that’s not all…”

She meeped curiously as he said it, her tail swaying slightly as she tried to work out what he meant.

“You never knew really knew your parents either did you… we told you they died in a car accident… but in reality while escaping your parents tried to stop Chaos… I’m afraid they stood no chance against him… Eclipse… I’m sorry… I never knew how to tell you it until now… but it seems the past has finally caught up with me…”

He looked up slowly to see Eclipse staring back at him, her expression one of horror and surprise mixed together, her lip quivering a little as she suddenly pressed hard against his chest and howled loudly.

Blitz held her closely as he stroked her back, watching as she sobbed heavily into his chest, clearly caught off guard by the revelations.

“Eclipse… I…”

Before he could continue the communicator system on the wall activated, one of the officers from the control room appearing on screen.

“I’m sorry to interrupt Commander… but I have some news that couldn’t wait…”

Blitz growled a little as he turned towards the screen, holding Eclipse tightly to him.

“What is it Lieutenant?”

“Well… its Tempest sir… we’ve lost contact with him…”

********************

Chapter 28 - The Ultimate Soldier

"Hmm… you guys are pretty stubborn…"

Das roared powerfully as he sliced through another group of enemy troops with his blade, the strength of his attacks allowing him to slice cleanly through them as he leapt into the air to strike another group down just as mercilessly.

"There's too many of them! This will take forever!"

Das looked over at the soldier next to him as they said it and smirked a little.

"Oh come on, I haven't had so much fun in ages! Although Enigma's taking her time playing with those engine cores back there…"

He growled a little as a laser blast hit him hard on the shoulder, looking over at the lone sniper who'd finally managed to hit him, clearly a little panicked at being spotted as the large hybrid dashed towards him and slammed him hard into the wall behind him.

"I give you credit for hitting me, although it doesn't seem to have done much damage…"

Das grinned confidently as the wound slowly healed up before the sniper's eyes, the burn marks gradually disappearing as they were replaced by freshly grown fur and skin.

"Anyway, let me show you how it's done…"

He grinned maniacally as suddenly he pulled back his fist, pausing a moment to savour the look of fear on their face before he punched hard into their chest, the impact enough to cause the wall behind him to crumple a little as he fell the ground limply.

"Hmm… now I think about it she is taking too long… you guys handle the rest of them while I check on Enigma…"

The other soldiers nodded in response as they regrouped around the entrance to the engine room, the enemy forces around them clearly reduced as a result of the heavy casualties they had already suffered trying to take on the hybrid and his troops.

Das growled as he pulled at the lever on the large door, finding it locked down fully from the inside, the control panel beside it also deactivated for some reason.

"I should have known… well let's open her up and see what's inside…"

The hybrid growled as he swung his sword at the door several times, each time slicing cleanly through part of the door panel, until finally he holstered his blade once more and clenched his fist up tightly.

"Well here goes…"

With that he punched firmly at the centre of the door panel, watching as it caved in and fell back into the engine room, Das looking inside curiously as he found the room to be pitch black inside.

Without saying anything he slowly walked into the room, his eyes easily able to adapt to the darkness of the room, sniffing the air curiously as he moved towards a shadowy figure on the ground before him.

"Well, well… seems you got more than you expected Inferno…"

He chuckled a little as he said it, placing a footpaw firmly on the dragon's chest, grinning as he felt Inferno's large chest wound below his paw.

"Das… so you are here… what are you after this time…"

The large hybrid's tail swayed a little as he ran the sharp blades across Inferno's wound, purring with delight as he watched him wince as each individual tail blade opened his would up further.

"Well… let's just say I felt like it hmm? Besides, it's been worth it just to see you like this, I guess she gave you a tough time… to think someone who saw himself as being so high and mighty brought down so easily, you're a disgrace…"

Inferno growled as he tried to move, realising that was no longer possible as Das held him down more firmly in anticipation of his reaction.

"Actually Inferno… I'd love to stay and mock you more, but right now… you're not even worth that…"

Before the dragon could react Das moved his other footpaw above Inferno's face and slammed it down firmly, the loud crunch which followed echoing through the room repeatedly before slowly dying down, the room falling into silence once more.

"Now then, I'd best find Enigma."

Das calmly walked over to the engine cores, looking around a little before he noticed Enigma lying on the floor close to them, several charges scattered on the floor around her.

"Enigma… seems he was quite a handful…"

Das crouched down next to her as he slowly picked her up, holding her carefully in his arms as he checked her over a few times, noting the only cause for concern to be the larger wound on her shoulder.

"Seems like you came out of it lightly though, I'm impressed…"

Das quickly wrapped some cloth around her shoulder to stop the bleeding, resting her against some crates as he then picked up the charges and set them all up on each of the cores, before returning back to her and lifting her over his shoulder with ease.

"Well then… I guess the party's over, time to take you home…"

The large hybrid picked up her sword with his spare paw and walked out of the engine room coolly, the other soldiers looking back at him with a mix of curiosity and concern as he pointed towards the remaining enemy troops and roared powerfully.

"Everyone move out! Our job is done here…"

The enemy troops paused for a moment as he said it, realising what he meant as they quickly turned away and retreated down the hallway, some of them dropping their guns to try and speed up a little.

"Hehe… so much for Armageddon's fearless soldiers…"

Das motioned to the other soldiers to follow him as they pursued the enemy out of the base, the large main entrance to the scout ship already deserted as they made their way out of the ship, noting Striker's troops ahead of them also realising what was going on and taking their own evasive action to escape the blast.

"Boom."

As he said it the whole ship suddenly rocked violently as the engine cores exploded, the shockwaves causing the ship to tear apart behind him,

Several large sections of the ship landed nearby as he continued to calmly walk away from the ship, Enigma still knocked out and laying over his shoulder, as he noticed Striker in the distance and headed towards him.

"Mission complete."

********************

Chapter 29 - Time Crisis

"Tempest! Tempest come in!"

Tempest opened his eyes slowly as he heard the faint voice emitting from the headset which lay nearby, looking around slowly as he tried to move a little closer to it, quickly remembering where he was as he slowly pulled himself up.

"E… Eclipse?"

Resting for a moment on his knees, Tempest picked up the headset and put it back on, pausing for breath as he turned it on.

"Tempest here… sorry… seems I passed out or something… I'm ok now I think…"

He looked down to examine himself, a little confused as he saw his fur matted with blood yet no physical wounds on his body, the damage incurred earlier somehow having healed up while he was unconscious.

"Tempest… what happened down there? Did you find Armageddon yet?"

He snapped back into focus as she said it, picking up his sword as he started to move towards the large doors behind him, his body still a little numbed in places but no longer seeming as heavy as he had felt it to be previously.

"No… although I did run into Chaos… let's just say he's out of the picture for now…"

There was a slight pause at the other end, a heavier masculine tone shouting down the headset now, Tempest wincing a little as he adjusted the headset a little to compensate for the loud barking which now filled his ear.

"TEMPEST! You've no time going on revenge missions! Find Armageddon and take him down before it's too late! We're struggling to hold our lines out here, there's too many of them!!!"

The young wolf remained silent as he opened the door, moving into the long winding corridor silently as he checked for any enemy soldiers who may have been waiting in the shadows to attack, finally reaching the other end of it as he slipped into a lift and headed back towards the docking bays below.

"You knew all along Blitz didn't you? Every last detail… never once having the nerve to tell me what really happened… you coward…"

There was an uncomfortable silence on the other end of the line, Tempest watching the lift panel carefully as he neared his destination, his sword held tightly in his hand as if he was about to explode from the tension.

"Tempest, I…"

The young wolf remained silent, staring blankly as the lift finally stopped and the doors slowly opened before him, several enemy soldiers guarding the docking bay turning around and shouting to each other various orders as they saw him.

"Looks like we'll have to continue this later Blitz… it seems they don't want me to leave just yet…"

Before the commander could reply he turned off the communicator, running out of the lift towards several large crates nearby, shielding him from the initial wave of attacks which the enemy troops unleashed at him.

"I guess they just don't know when to quit…"

The enemy paused their assault momentarily, before one soldier moved a little closer towards Tempest's position behind the crates.

"Surrender and join us, you shall come to no harm…"

They looked at each other curiously as the young wolf started to laugh, standing up slowly as he moved out of his hiding spot and walked towards them, his arms in the air as if in resignation.

"Is that what you always say? I wonder how many times you actually follow it through…"

Tempest growled a little as he charged forward, catching one guard by surprise as he pushed him over as he ran towards the other end of the docking bay, leaping over some crates in order to dodge the incoming laser fire.

"Everyone move now! Surround his position!"

The soldiers moved around the crates as quickly as they could, their rifles at the ready as they waited for any sign of the wolf coming out to counter attack.

"I've got to break out of here and stop Armageddon before it's too late…"

Instinctively he suddenly ducked lower behind the crates as he felt a large explosion nearby, the screams coming from the enemy troops rapidly silenced as the docking bay was engulfed in flames, Tempest cautiously pausing for a moment before moving out of his hiding spot and looking around curiously.

"What was that? There's no way our fleet could have broken through already… no matter I'd best get out of here before I'm burned to a crisp!"

The young wolf leapt over the crates, looking around cautiously as he sprinted towards his space suit, stopping quickly as he saw a small team of soldiers standing nearby.

"Don't make me do something I'll regret later…"

Tempest slowly moved towards them, his sword raised to them in preparation for any quick attacks they may have been planning, a little confused to find them all to be young wolves, unarmed and already raising up their arms in surrender to him.

"Please Tempest, we're here to help…"

Tempest stopped once more, a few metres away from them as they said it, his ears flickering a little as he tried to work out what they meant.

"Time's short, either move out the way or I'm going to have to cut you down… sorry but right now I've no other choice…"

One of them finally moved forward a little, motioning to Tempest to give them a chance to explain themselves before he went any further.

"We knew your father… well our parents did… point is that we believe you have a real chance of defeating Armageddon… even if it costs us our lives we're determined to do what we can to help…"

Tempest looked around for a moment, before looking back at them and holstering his sword once more, smiling a little as he walked past them and climbed into his suit.

"Well, thank you, let's hope I can repay your faith…"

They smiled back at him as one of them walked over to a nearby control panel and activated it, sighing with relief as it remained undamaged from the initial explosion.

"Armageddon is about 10 miles from our current position, directly below the ship… according to the trajectory he's moving on he should be in firing position with 10 minutes…"

Tempest nodded in acknowledgement as he sealed the suit around himself, moving away from them a little as he activated the booster rockets.

"Thanks guys… see you later…"

They nodded back to him before heading back towards the lift Tempest had entered the docking bay from, smashing the panel completely with whatever they could find, the doors to the lift locking down completely as a result.

"Commander, Tempest here… I'm sending you the coordinates for where Armageddon is… I need you to track his movements so I can find him before it's too late…"

There was a slight pause before the Commander replied, Tempest heading directly to Armageddon's location, his rockets at full power as he tried to catch up with his target as quickly as possible.

"OK we can see him Tempest, he's directly ahead of you… but what's going on? Is he retreating? That's incredible!"

"Hold on Blitz… he's far from it… he's actually getting ready to end this… that mech has a powerful cannon which can wipe out entire planets… I have to try and stop him before he fires it on Earth!"

There was another pause before Eclipse activated her communicator.

"Tempest…"

"…I know Eclipse, be careful… but right now I don't really have a choice I'm afraid…"

"I know… just come home safely ok?"

"I'll try Eclipse… I'll try."

********************

Chapter 30 - Final pursuit

"Status report! What's happening down there!?"

The Commander barked orders at the officers before him impatiently, watching as they did as best they could to appease the Commander, one even rushing to make him some more coffee in the hope of calming him down a little.

Suddenly one of the screens activated, Striker appearing on screen for all to see, much to the delight of Eclipse.

"Striker! I KNEW you could do it!"

The young male fox blushed heavily as she said it, shuffling a little on screen and unsure of what to say, that was before Das nudged him out of the way so that he could have his say.

"Damn Striker, we need to talk later about this... I'm surprised she's even interested in such a stiff…"

"Stiff? Why you!"

The Commander coughed impatiently as they started to argue.

"Is that all you have to say boys?"

Both of them paused as he said it, Striker moving back into view of screen.

"Sorry Commander, it's been a long day… I should also mention that we've incurred some heavy losses on our side, as well as many wounded…"

Eclipse gasped a little as Striker paused, realising that he still was hiding something he didn't want to say.

"Where's Enigma?"

"She's… she's being transported to an emergency hospital clinic near to where the ground assault took place, seems Inferno was waiting for her and she took some heavy damage in the process of taking him down… other than that we don't have much more in terms of details…"

Eclipse sighed heavily as the Commander placed a paw on her shoulder reassuringly.

"No… not Enigma… please…"

The Commander knelt down beside her, holding her paws in his own as he gave her a reassuring look.

"Enigma will be fine; she's the toughest tiger I know… right now though I need you to be there for Tempest… I get the feeling he's going to need all the support we can give him…"

Eclipse nuzzled his paw a little as she looked up at him, nodding in acknowledgement as she turned back to the monitor in front of her and continued her work.

"OK Striker, Das… do what you can down there and report back to base when you're all done… we'll update you on how things are progressing at our end shortly."

The Commander saluted them before motioning for one of the officers to deactivate the screen, walking back over to his chair as he sat down and seemingly downed the whole cup of coffee in one go.

"All remaining troops are to focus on breaking through to the enemy's command ship… as much as I'd like to put our faith in Tempest being successful we have to do all we can to ensure victory…"

The officers in front of him nodded once more as they relayed the orders, looking over at Eclipse as she looked back at him nervously.

"Enigma… Tempest… don't you dare die on me!"

**********

Tempest's rockets flared brightly as he neared his target rapidly, the small radar screen equipped in his suit highlighting Armageddon's Mech easily, Tempest's sword at the ready as finally the Mech came into view before him.

"Damn… that thing's huge…"

Tempest cut the rockets as he moved into view of Armageddon's Mech, 25ft of Mech suit looming before him, the armour covering it clearly some dense yet powerful metal, it's appearance making it hard to determine it's actual composition.

"It looks like a giant soldier… right down to the rifle and sword…"

Tempest growled heavily as a communication channel opened up for him; slowly he turned it on, his ears filling with what was a loud yet sinister laughter.

"Oh my, is that it? I… Armageddon… conqueror of worlds, destroyer of hope, the most powerful being in the universe… is to be challenged by one solitary tiny Mech? Please… what are you trying to do? Force me to die from laughter at how pathetic you look right now?"

Tempest grinned a little as he activated his own communicator.

"Hehe… the way you're going on and on, it seems that someone's a little nervous for some reason…"

Armageddon growled as he turned his Mech towards Tempest, swinging the Mech's sword a few times as if to show a little of the suit's mobility.

"Don't think that just because you've inherited your mother's powers you can beat me Tempest… you're going to need a lot more than that to come even close…"

Tempest paused for a moment, focussing his power once more as he moved his mech a little closer to his opponent, swinging his own sword a few times as if mocking the dragon's previous motions.

"It's over Tempest… all your efforts will come to nothing… with my Apocalypse cannon your precious planet will be reduced to nothing in a matter of seconds… you really think you can stop me?"

Tempest roared powerfully, charging towards Armageddon as he raised his sword and readied himself to attack.

"I thought you'd never ask…"

********************

Chapter 31 - Between heaven and earth…

Armageddon roared with delight as Tempest approached, raising his sword in anticipation of whatever attack Tempest would try to unleash on him.

"My… you are eager… just like your father I guess…"

Tempest roared as he swung wildly at the large Mech, Armageddon deciding back off a little for now, the powerful rockets on his Mech kicking in as he dodged the attacks with ease.

"Hmm… it's a pity really… had I known you'd survived I could have raised you up to be one of my commanders… no big loss though… I'm sure I can just enjoy cutting you down before I destroy your pitiful planet…"

Tempest paused for a moment, working out his options as the large Mech loomed before him.

"Destroy it? Then why did you send troops down to Earth?"

Armageddon growled a little, refusing to reply as he activated a panel to the side of him, pressing a few buttons as the Mech started to make a deafening noise.

Tempest smirked a little as he waited patiently for an answer.

"Heh… let me guess you gave up didn't you?"

Armageddon growled as he said it, slamming his fist into one of the nearby panels.

"I NEVER GIVE UP!"

Tempest watched curiously as several panels on the Mech opened, missiles flying towards him from every angle as Armageddon's Mech moved towards him, clearly to attack him in case he avoided the onslaught of missiles.

"Hmm… I guess he takes critique badly then…"

Tempest focussed his power as he moved away quickly from the missiles, carefully dodging Armageddon's attacks as he loomed before him.

"Tell me Tempest… do you honestly think you can beat me?"

Armageddon grinned at the lack of a reply as he pressed another button, several more rockets activating as his speed increased dramatically, Tempest only able to watch with surprise as Armageddon attacked him rapidly.

"Damn, how fast can that thing go!?"

Tempest tried hard to block the attacks, panting heavily as he focussed all his energy into doing so, howling out in pain as he felt several of the attacks slice through his suit cleanly.

"You're finished Tempest…"

Armageddon roared with delight as he moved away from Tempest to marvel at his handy work, a little surprised and confused as he watched Tempest seemingly calm despite his situation.

"Wait… your suit is torn apart… you should be dead by now…"

Tempest howled powerfully as he tore off the remains of his suit, his wings stretching out behind him, his whole body glowing a little as he looked back at Armageddon once more.

"Don't… underestimate me… Armageddon…"

Tempest's body glowed lightly, his eyes a bright yellow now as he slowly straightened up, the multiple wounds on his arms and chest slowly sealing up.

"That's… impossible… how can you do that?"

Armageddon backed off a little more as he activated his Mech's scanners, cursing as they were unable to produce any results for him due to the interference Tempest's energy created.

"Well Armageddon… I'm sure you know why… you just don't want to believe it do you…"

Armageddon cursed under his breath as he watched Tempest glow a little brighter before finally the energy around him settled down, the wolf swinging his sword a few times as he checked his wounds had finally healed up.

"Rapid healing… incredible… if only I'd been able to find out how that worked when I had Eclipse…"

Tempest raised an eyebrow as he said it.

"Eclipse? What are you talking about?"

Armageddon growled a little as he holstered his blade, one arm of the Mech slowly forming into what looked like a powerful cannon, the large dragon furiously working away on the panels around him as a louder hum slowly built up.

"I guess they never told you… your mother's name was Eclipse… I was going to take her powers but that idiot Blizzard escaped with her before I could complete my experiments… no matter though… it seems I can use you as my test subject now… perhaps not all is lost…"

Tempest growled lowly, clutching his blade firmly as he watched Armageddon's Mech slowly transform before him, still feeling drained as he tried to focus his power and found himself struggling to do so.

"Enough of this… either surrender or I'll wipe you out along with your precious Earth… you don't stand a chance of stopping me now…"

The young wolf laughed hard as he said it, grinning widely as he rested his sword on his shoulder and moved closer.

"What makes you think I care about saving the Earth anymore?"

Armageddon paused as he said it, clearly confused at what he was saying.

"You really think after everything that's happened I'm here to save them? You took away my family… My father… My mother… I'm going to wipe you out of existence, even if you destroy everyone including me you're going down as well…"

The dragon found himself stunned at the change in tone by the wolf as he frantically pressed several buttons on the panels beside him.

"You're bluffing! I'm going to destroy everything you ever knew with this one blast and there's nothing you can do about it!"

Armageddon's Mech turned towards the Earth, his cannon raised as it slowly glowed brighter, slowly getting ready to fire.

"What makes you think I won't just cut you in half the moment you fire? You'd be helpless then wouldn't you? It'd be so easy to tear you apart…"

The dragon scowled angrily as he said it, still aiming towards the Earth as he tried desperately to work out whether Tempest was bluffing or not.

"Well Tempest… how about I just go ahead and blow it to pieces? There's no way you'd let me do that…"

Tempest bared his fangs in a wide grin, advancing closer and closer, focussing his energy more as he glowed brighter.

"Are you really willing to risk your whole empire on that?"

Armageddon panicked a little as the wolf closed in, the cannon beeping to indicate it was ready as he looked around nervously to see Tempest only a few hundred feet away, his eyes glowing with what looked like pure killing intent.

"DIE TEMPEST!"

Armageddon's Mech creaked loudly as he swung the cannon towards Tempest, stunned as before he could react Tempest dodged and grabbed hold it, all the while looking back at the dragon and grinning maniacally.

"What the…?"

The cannon roared into life, a large energy blast emitting from it, Armageddon watching intently as he finally realised where the blast was being directed.

"No… not that…"

Tempest moved away from Armageddon's Mech, panting hard as he looked up and watched the Command Ship before them take the blast full on.

There was a moment of stillness before the power of the blast tore it apart, the intense light caused by the explosion causing them to turn away for a moment, both slowly looking back as the light died down again to see the whole ship wiped out completely.

"My… ship… you… destroyed it! HOW DARE YOU!"

Tempest acted playfully as he pointed at himself and tried to look innocent.

"Me? What did I do? You're the one trying to blow everything up…"

Armageddon growled fiercely as he pulled out his sword and charged at Tempest once more, his rockets roaring powerfully.

"I'm going to rip you apart Tempest!"

Tempest grinned again as he readied himself, glowing a little brighter as he tried desperately to focus whatever energy he still had left, his muscles starting to ache now from heavy exertion.

"Dammit… I don't know how much more of this I can take… there's only so long I can fool him…"

********************

Chapter 32 - A moment of peace

"Is she going to be alright?"

Striker looked at the doctor anxiously, the older leopard smiling a little as he pulled off his glasses and cleaned them with the edge of his white coat carefully, before taking the clipboard from the base of the bed and examining it thoroughly.

"My god, honestly Striker it's just a flesh wound, you're making her out to be some helpless kitten or something the way you're going on about this…"

The young fox's ears flattened a little as Das said it, but decided to take it no further as he looked up at the doctor impatiently for an answer.

"Well Striker, he does have a point… you shouldn't worry yourself so much, she'll be just fine… as far as we can see there's no critical damage to her internal systems… all she needs now is some rest and she'll be back out there in no time…"

Striker sighed a little and nodded in acceptance before following the doctor out of the room, suddenly pausing as he looked back at Das curiously.

"You coming?"

The hybrid remained silent as he looked over at the young tigress, still leaning against the wall with his arms crossed firmly as if he hadn't even noticed Striker next to him.

"Das…?"

Das growled a little as he looked down at Striker before suddenly snapping at him angrily.

"I'll leave when I want to! Since when were you in charge?"

Striker stepped back a little as Das loomed over him, his first reaction seemingly to back off as much as he could, the hybrid's eyes narrowing as he waited for the fox to reply.

"Ok… ok… do whatever you want; I'll be back later to check on her…"

Striker slowly turned around and closed the door behind him, Das taking a deep breath as he turned away from the door and looked back over at Enigma.

"Finally… I thought they'd never leave…"

He stood there quietly and watched her as she slept peacefully; the quiet beeps from the heart machine beside her bed repeating slowly with each breath she took, the faint rays of sunlight creeping into the room causing her fur to shine a little as they ran over her body.

Das looked over to see a small chair nearby, walking over to it as he placed it carefully beside her bed and sat down on it slowly, all the while watching her as his breath slowed a little as if trying hard not to wake her.

He must have sat there for what felt like an eternity watching her, until slowly he raised a paw and ran it softly against the side of her cheek, watching with surprise as she weakly nuzzled against it possibly in what was an automatic reaction to the warmth of his touch.

"Hey…"

Das paused as he said it, taking a moment to collect his thoughts before he continued to stroke her softly.

"You did good out there…"

He smiled at her as he continued to stroke her cheek, his breaths slow and controlled as he felt her nuzzle his paw a little more, trying hard not to wake her while she was still so weak.

The hybrid paused once more as he pulled his paw away, leaning down to place a soft kiss on her forehead but at the last moment stopping himself, pausing again before finally standing up and heading towards the door behind him.

"D… Das…"

His ears perked up as he heard her voice, the soft low tone almost impossible to hear were it not for his advanced hearing, the weakness of her voice so painful to hear.

Slowly he turned around and faced her once more; sitting down beside her as she slowly opened her eyes and looked up at him, her eyelids still heavy as she struggled to keep them open.

"Enigma?"

She smiled a little as he said it, closing her eyes again as she took a deep breath and tried to speak once more.

"Hey… there… you big oaf…"

Das smirked a little as she said it, resting his hand on the rail of the bed as he leaned in a little closer.

"Hey there yourself…"

She gasped a little as she took another deep breath, her eyes opening a little more now as she seemed to slowly stir from her deep sleep.

"I guess that was one nasty…"

"Watch what you're doing next time OK?"

Das stopped himself abruptly, realising the tone of his voice as he looked back at her and smiled weakly.

"I'm… I'm sorry… I was just worried…"

He looked away as he cursed to himself, his ears lowering a little before suddenly they perked up in surprise as he felt he paw press against his own, looking back at her curiously as she smiled back at him once more.

"It's… it's ok…Dazen…"

Das smiled back a little before watching her paw intently as she slowly stroked over his larger paw, her motions a little more firmer than before as if she was slowly recovering her strength as well.

"You seem surprised… you not used to this Das?"

He paused for a moment before he looked her in the eyes once more and smiled.

"No… not really… but this isn't about me now is it?"

She purred weakly as she continued, her paw still running over his in what must have been a mix of curiosity and content, the roughness of his fur such a contrast to her own silken fur.

Purring still she looked up at him and chuckled a little.

"Come here… you big oaf…"

Das paused as she said it, nodding as he slowly and carefully leaned down over her, watching as she raised her paw and slowly ran it over his large muzzle, the hybrid's eyes closing slowly as he pressed closer to her and slowly gave in to her gentle motions over his muzzle.

Slowly she continued her motions, watching with delight as his eyes closed firmly and she heard a deep rumbling purr start to emit from within his chest, Das himself a little surprised but no longer caring as he allowed her to continue for as long as she wanted to.

"Nothing but a big pussy cat...."

She laughed lightly as she traced a finger down the scar over his left eye, Das shaking his head as she touched it but deciding not to stop her as she continued to trace over his face, her touch sending shivers of delight through him as he nuzzled her paw softly.

"Enigma… I....."

She traced her thumb over his lips and smiled as it silenced him instantly, his deep blue eyes staring longingly into her own.

"I… um... better let you get some sleep…"

He coughed slightly as he said it, his cheeks burning hot under his fur.

She looked back at him and sighed a little, before slowly running her paw over his muzzle once more.

"You know… I'd sleep a lot better if I had someone with me right now…"

She smirked lightly as she said it, watching as things suddenly clicked for Das as he nodded back at her.

"Well… I could stay, but I doubt this chair is going to be comfy enough for me to sleep in…"

He paused as she started to chuckle light-heartedly, her paw slowly scritching the underside of his muzzle.

"Who said anything about the chair?"

Das found himself caught a little off guard as she said it, looking at her carefully to gauge how serious she was.

"You're not suggesting… but you're still hurt… besides it's not big enough to fit us both in…"

She purred a little as she lowered his muzzle slowly and looked him back in the eyes intently.

"How about if I lay on your chest, hmm?"

"But, but your injuries…"

She chuckled again as he said it, still stroking his muzzle reassuringly.

"I'm sure they're all healed up now, I just need to rest up…"

Das sighed in resignation as he stood up and undressed, leaving himself in only his white tank top and black pants, shaking his head a little in disbelief as he climbed onto the bed and carefully but expertly moved her onto his chest.

"Happy now?"

The large hybrid looked down at her curiously as he said it, his angry tone quickly erased as she shifted atop of him to get comfy, the feel of her against him relaxing him in return.

"Very…"

She started to purr as she nuzzled his chest softly, the feel of her atop of him oddly comforting and relaxing, the bed easily supporting them much to his disbelief.

"Good… now get some sleep…"

She nodded weakly before leaning up and kissing the underside of his muzzle softly, Das unable to hold back as he let out a small gasp of surprise, the smaller feline nuzzling tightly into his chest as she fell back to sleep in his arms.

Das purred involuntarily as he watched her slowly drift back to sleep, wrapping his arms a little over her as he stroked her gently to reassure her that he was still there.

"Sweet dreams Enigma"

********************

Chapter 33 - Alpha Ascendancy

"Blitz…"

The Commander turned around as he saw Eclipse before him, kitted up in full armour and holding what looked like some pretty heavy weaponry, her face sullen yet determined.

"What's going on Eclipse?"

She sat down beside him and placed her paws over his reassuringly, looking him in the eyes for a moment before continuing.

"I'm going to help him Blitz… he's out there alone while we all just sit here and wait… I… I can't do that…"

The Commander sighed a little and gazed back at her, stroking her cheek softly before standing up and heading towards the large window nearby, placing his arms behind his back as he stood in silent thought.

"You can't stop me… not this time Blitz… I…"

"I know Eclipse… it's ok… just be careful…"

She moved over to him and held him tightly, her ears lowering a little as he remained motionless.

"You're just like her you know…"

She looked up at him curiously as he said it.

"How do you mean? Like who?"

Blitz slowly turned around as he looked her over, a weak smile forming as he again stroked her idly.

"Tempest's father gave everything he had to save her… it's only fitting that his son would act in the same way…"

Eclipse nuzzled his paw softly as she urged him to continue.

"Please Blitz…"

He nodded as he slowly looked back out the window, seemingly lost in thought.

"You were named after her… Eclipse… she was so kind and loving… despite everything Armageddon did to her she never gave up hope of being able to escape… Blizzard felt the same way… in the end he gave up everything to save her… now it looks like Tempest will have to do the same…"

He stopped suddenly as she grabbed his shoulders and turned him around to face her, her eyes streaming with tears as she looked back at him defiantly.

"Don't say that! Tempest is coming home… I won't give up on him!"

With that she stormed out of the room, Blitz unable to respond as the door slammed hard behind her; with a sigh he slowly moved back to his desk as he sat down in silent thought.

"I don't want to Eclipse… but you have no idea what he's up against…"

*****

"WHY WON'T YOU JUST DIE?"

Armageddon roared angrily as Tempest continued to parry his attacks, occasionally getting a few strikes in himself as the dragon's fury intensified rapidly at the stubbornness of his opponent.

"You're running out of power, I can sense it… why won't you just give up?"

Tempest growled as he pushed away from Armageddon, taking a moment to regroup.

"I can't give up… if I do I'll lose everything…"

Armageddon grinned a little, taking a moment to run some checks on his Mech as well.

"Tell you what Tempest… why not join me and I'll let you live…"

The young wolf looked back at him and laughed a little as he said it.

"Oh really… as if you'd let me live… besides even if I did join you you'd still destroy the Earth right?"

Armageddon growled a little as he said it, frustrated at his stubborn tone.

"What does it matter if you get another chance to live Tempest?"

Tempest panted heavily as he looked down at himself, his wounds refusing to heal now as he realised his energy was draining rapidly.

"Dammit… I can't hold this form much longer…"

Armageddon growled impatiently, watching as the wolf slowly raised his head up towards him.

"…what's the point in living if there's nothing to live for?"

Armageddon grinned as he said it, clearly amused at the wolf's reply.

"I see… you really are that weak Tempest… holding such fragile things so close to your heart… knowing you can't protect them… you will never strong thinking like that… very well… I see that having you join me is futile… I shall end this now… do you have anything else to say before I do so?"

Tempest smiled a little as he nodded in reply.

"Just one thing…"

Armageddon smirked a little as he holstered his sword once more and waited.

"Very well… what do you have to say before I wipe you out of existence? I think it's only fitting for you to have a moment to reflect on your pitiful life before I erase it…"

Tempest slowly moved away from Armageddon, building up a little distance between them.

"I realise now why my father called this form 'Omega'…"

Armageddon chuckled as he said it and nodded for him to continue.

"Oh? And why's that?"

"The literal meaning is 'mighty', but seeing as I'm a wolf, it also has a second meaning… as in a certain position within a wolf pack…"

The large dragon raised an eyebrow curiously as Tempest continued.

"And just what is your point Tempest…"

Tempest growled a little as his body started to glow brightly once more, his eyes barely open from the pain he felt from doing so.

"In a wolf pack, the Omega wolf is not the strongest… but after transforming again when facing Chaos I realised that I had more than one form depending on which of my emotions were most dominant, that time it was my hatred and anger…"

Armageddon watched curiously as Tempest glowed brighter and brighter, moving back a little from the wolf instinctively.

"So I ask myself… what would happen if I combined all of those emotions equally? If I unleashed them all at once… surely then I could ascend into something more powerful…"

The dragon growled a little as suddenly it clicked, pulling his sword out as he watched the wolf's glow intensify a little more.

"No… You can't be serious…"

Tempest closed his eyes as he glowed intensely, to the point where Armageddon was now struggling to focus on him, every muscle in his body pulsing with power as he clenched his fists tightly.

"I'm sorry Eclipse… looks like I'm not going to make it home after all…"

Tempest watched the Earth looming before them for a moment, tears forming in his eyes before suddenly he howled powerfully, his body shaking as pure energy flowed around him wildly.

"Let's hope this works…"

Armageddon could only watch in awe as the energy around Tempest expanded rapidly, the intensity of that energy slowly dying down, the large dragon now stunned at what he saw before him.

"Impossible…"

Tempest looked himself over, just as stunned as his body now looked like a giant fireball, the intensity of the energy flowing through him causing him to look as if he was made purely from it.

"I… I did it… Tempest Alpha…"

Tempest's wings slowly stretched out behind him, clearly much larger than they were before as they flared brightly with raw power, the wolf looking up at Armageddon as his eyes focussed on his target intently.

"No more games Armageddon… this time you're finished..."

********************

Chapter 34 - The perfect storm

"Incredible…"

Armageddon found himself stunned momentarily as he saw Tempest's expression, clearly unsure as to how to proceed, growling a little with frustration.

"You're a fool Tempest! You could have joined me and become one of the most powerful warriors in the galaxy!"

Tempest looked at him and growled back as he raised his sword and rested it on his shoulder once more.

"Enough words Armageddon… I told you… you're finished…"

Before the dragon could react he watched as Tempest disappeared from his view, looking around in surprise as the wolf was nowhere to be seen.

"What the…? Where'd you go Tempest?"

He paused as he noticed a bright glow reflecting on his Mech, turning around to see Tempest right behind him, sword raised as if to strike.

"Did you miss me Armageddon?"

The dragon found himself unable to react in time as Tempest swung firmly at the large Mech with his sword, a large gash forming across the chest plate before Tempest quickly performed a rapid roundhouse kick to his side, sending him flying from the impact.

"Dammit… he's… fast…"

Armageddon growled as he tried to control his Mech once more, stunned as he felt another powerful blow strike the back of his Mech, jolting him inside the Mech as he tried hard to follow the wolf's movements.

"Damn you Tempest… I'll…"

"You'll do what Armageddon? You can't even follow my movements now… just give it up… this is over…"

The dragon growled as he looked up to see Tempest waiting patiently for him to retaliate, pressing several buttons on the panels around him as he aimed the cannon at Tempest and fired.

"How dare you even imply that! I am Armageddon, there is no equal to me! I am the ultimate!"

Tempest watched as the cannon blast sped towards him, a small confident grin appearing as he raised his sword and readied himself to block the attack.

"You idiot! That blast is strong enough to destroy planets! Victory is mine!"

The wolf simply ignored him and stood his ground and sliced at the blast, the impact of it against his blade tremendous as Armageddon watched curiously to see what would happen.

"No… you've got to be kidding…"

Tempest roared powerfully as he sliced cleanly through the blast, the power of his attack causing the energy within the blast to dissipate and spread out around him, Armageddon shielding his eyes from the intense light.

"I'll say this one last time… give up Armageddon…"

The dragon roared angrily as his Mech pulled out its sword and sped towards him.

"STOP ASKING THAT! I'LL NEVER GIVE UP!"

Tempest closed his eyes for a moment in disappointment.

"You leave me no choice…"

Armageddon started laughing insanely as he neared Tempest, his desire to defeat him intense as he slashed wildly at the wolf, refusing to give up as Tempest simply dodged each attack with ease.

"I'M GOING TO CARVE YOU APART!"

Tempest growled a little as he dodged to the side of Armageddon, grabbing the Mech's arm holding the sword and holding it firmly, looking up at Armageddon as he watched helplessly.

"Maybe I need to show you why this is futile…"

With that he roared powerfully, his body glowing brighter as he pulled at the arm, slowly severing it from the torso of the Mech.

"WH… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Tempest pulled off the arm fully, throwing it away as he slammed a fist into the chest plate of Armageddon's Mech, causing it to dent a little from the impact.

"You took everything from me Armageddon… I'm just returning the favour…"

Tempest growled as he pulled out his sword and sliced the other arm off suddenly, making sure to slice the cannon attached to it into as many pieces as he could before looking back at Armageddon and grinning a little.

"You've killed so many simply to gain more power… crushed so many civilisations, killed so many people, destroyed so many hopes and dreams… it's only fair for you to lose everything in return… your ships, your armies, your empire… I'm going to take them all away from you… and all you will be able to do is watch helplessly as I do it…"

Armageddon laughed as he finished, looking at Tempest strangely amused as what he was saying.

"Come on Tempest… you barely have any power left inside of you I bet… surely there's no way you can finish me off and get home in one piece… why don't you just leave while you can, in return for I'll spare your planet, hmm?"

Tempest looked at him as if in silent thought for a moment before continuing.

"As if I would stop now and show you such mercy after seeing you give none to the countless victims of your empire… I can see that you have no regrets about what you have done… goodbye Armageddon..."

Armageddon panicked as Tempest started to glow brighter, realising it was over as his rockets failed to activate despite his frantic actions.

"This is it… Enigma… Blitz… Striker… Das… Eclipse... I… I won't fail you… not now…"

Tempest's body seemed to flare brighter as he focussed all of his remaining power, the intensity of the energy around him increasing as his wings flared out behind him once more, his body seemingly shaking violently from the power surging through him.

"NO… NO… THIS IS INSANE! DAMN YOU TEMPEST! DAMN YOU!"

Tempest was unable to respond as the power caused him to roar out in pain, the energy around him burning like an intense fire as he charged towards Armageddon, the flames around him causing him to appear almost demon-like as they spiked around him randomly.

Armageddon was paralysed as for the first time in his life his mind filled with fear, Tempest slicing cleanly through the Mech, the power of the attack so great that Armageddon failed to feel the blade cut through him.

"D… Damn… you…"

His body felt numb and cold, his eyes transfixed on Tempest as the wolf looked back at him coldly, slowly moving away from the Mech as he sheathed his sword and stared intently at Armageddon.

Before the dragon could say anything more the Mech suddenly imploded as the structure collapsed, Tempest closing his eyes as he turned away and slowly made his way back to the fleet.

"Finally… I... did it…"

The energy surrounding Tempest's body slowly faded as he reverted back into his regular form, his body still protected by the last remnants of his energy as he fell limp, drifting idly in space as he found himself unable to move anymore.

"Looks like I won't be making it home after all…"

********************

Chapter 35 - Silence…

"How long till we're there?!"

Eclipse sat nervously as they made their way to Tempest's location, the small crew in the ship surprised as they found the region seemingly deserted, the pilot checking the coordinates again to make sure they were correct.

"There's… there's nothing here…"

Eclipse stood up and banged her fist against one of the walls as the pilot and crew all looked back at her curiously.

"That's impossible! Run a scan for any signs of life now! There HAS to be something!"

They nodded in response as they furiously checked various readings on the panels before them, one of the crew waving to her as a small signal started to emit from their screen.

"It seems there's a lot of debris out here… but there's a faint energy reading a little way to our right…"

Eclipse motioned for the pilot to head towards the location as she looked out of the windows to try and work out what was there.

"Please be alive Tempest…"

A louder beep suddenly started as the pilot motioned to her once more.

"Eclipse, ma'am, there's someone out there!"

Eclipse turned to face him as the screen lit up, showing the area in more detail.

"Zoom in, we have to verify it!"

A few moments passed before suddenly they motioned to the pilot once more.

"Quickly, head to these coordinates! It's… it's Tempest!"

Eclipse found herself needing to sit down as she saw him appear on screen, her eyes slowly welling up as her emotions overwhelmed her, watching as a couple of the crew moved out from the ship and carefully collected Tempest.

"Tempest… please be ok…"

She watched as they slowly carried him into the ship, laying him down on the ground as Eclipse ran over and knelt beside him, looking him over repeatedly as she tried to work out how badly hurt he was.

"TEMPEST! TEMPEST! PLEASE, SAY SOMETHING! I…"

"E…Eclipse…"

She stopped suddenly as he spoke, shaking a little as she realised how weak he sounded.

"I'm here Tempest… it's going to be ok… hang in there…"

She leant down more and stroked his muzzle reassuringly, her paws still shaking as she slowly moved them over his chest and gasped a little at the scars which covered his body.

"You're… you're hurt badly… I…"

"I'm sorry Eclipse… I tried… my best…"

Eclipse pulled him carefully into her lap, stroking through his spiked hair gently, watching him as he weakly smiled at her touch.

"You… you were amazing Tempest… what do you mean you tried your best? You won…"

Tempest panted heavily as he raised a paw, slowly moving it up to stroke at her cheek as he tried hard to speak again.

"I… I promised… promised you that… I… I'd make it… h… home…"

Eclipse closed her eyes as he said it, tears slowly forming as she held him tightly against her, gasping a little as she felt him wipe away the tears with his finger before stroking her cheek once more.

"Don't… don't cry Eclipse… please…"

She smiled weakly as he said it, her body shaking a little as she tried to hold back her tears.

"I… always asked myself… why… It was such… an open question… so… many answers… Now I feel… I feel like… I know all the… answers yet despite that… despite that… I… I would still give… everything… to do it all over again… to be… with you... Striker… Enigma… Blitz… you were my family… I… I couldn't ask… for a more… I… I felt so… loved…"

Eclipse raised him up a little so he could continue, all the while stroking him gently as one of the doctors sat next to her and scanned Tempest repeatedly to work out how critical he was, looking back at Eclipse and shaking their head slowly as they realised the truth.

"Tempest…"

"You… you brought me… so much happiness… like that one star in the sky… which… shines brighter than… than all of the rest combined…"

She listened patiently as her soft touches seemed to relax him, her tail wrapping gently around him as she tried to hold him closer, as if refusing to accept the inevitable.

"Don't cry Eclipse… never be sad… or live in regret… Live your life to the full and cherish… every moment of it…"

"Tempest… you… you made me proud… you made all of us proud… I… I love you…"

"I… I love you too… Eclipse…"

She slowly leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, holding the kiss for a moment before she raised up again slowly, her fingers trembling as she watched his eyes slowly close.

"T… Tempest… no… please…"

Eclipse stroked his muzzle gently, realising he could no longer hear her words as he fell limp in her arms, his chest heaving slightly as he took his last breath.

The doctor next to her stood up quietly and walked away, moving to the rest of the crew who watched nearby, unable to do anything as Eclipse held him tightly against her.

"No… it can't be… NOOOO!"

Eclipse screamed out in pain as she pressed him into her chest and held him tightly, nuzzling into him softly as her tears slowly ran down her cheeks, occasionally falling onto Tempest as the room fell silent for what felt like an eternity.

"Th… Thank you Tempest…"

********************

Chapter 36 - Hope reborn…

The Commander sat at his desk in silent thought, the lights turned off as he sat facing the window looking out blankly, the coffee on the table beside him stone cold and untouched.

"Commander? We've just received a report from the front lines… the enemy has surrendered… we've won…"

Commander Blitz sighed a little with relief as he sat up a little in his chair.

"Excellent news… you know what to do…"

"Yes sir, we'll inform you if we need anything else, great job sir we couldn't have done it without you…"

The Commander growled a little before he composed himself and turned off the communicator, deciding not to reply as he stood up and walked over to the window, sighing heavily as he watched the fleet regroup and head back towards Earth.

"Tempest… you did your father proud…"

He paused as he looked over to see Eclipse standing in the doorway, looking back at him just as intently as she slowly walked towards him.

"Blitz… I…"

"You did all you could Eclipse… there's nothing we could have done…"

She stayed silent as he said it, still clearly distressed as Blitz wrapped his arms around her and held her close to his chest, stroking her gently as he sighed heavily.

"It's ok Eclipse… it's all over now…"

**********

"So... what you doing to do now Striker?"

The fox looked up at the large hybrid and smiled as he said it, leaning back casually on the wall behind him.

"Well… I guess take a break with Eclipse or something, this whole thing's been pretty hard on her… I think we all need one really…"

Das smirked a little as he turned around and walked slowly towards the doorway.

"Well you two have fun… I've plans of my own…"

Striker nodded as he stood up straight and saluted him, both of them pausing for a moment as if in silent respect.

"Thank you Das… we couldn't have done it without you…"

Das chuckled a little as he light-heartedly saluted back.

"You're welcome Striker… do me a favour and loosen up though ok?"

Before the fox could reply the door opened behind them, Commander Blitz entering the room along with Eclipse and Enigma.

"Going so soon Das? I was hoping you'd stay a little while longer…"

Das raised his eyebrow curiously in response as he walked over to Blitz and grinned widely.

"You know I could never settle down in a place like this…"

The Commander sighed a little as he placed a paw on the hybrid's shoulder.

"You can always hope… anyway before you go I have some news…"

He sat down slowly as they looked curiously over at him, the husky taking a deep breath as he did so.

"I've decided to retire… now that Armageddon is no more, I can finally leave knowing that the Earth will be safe…"

Striker chuckled a little as he sat down next to the Commander.

"Well that makes sense I guess… you've been around here since I first joined… I learned so much from you in these last few years…"

"Which is why you'll be taking over for me…"

Striker was speechless as the Commander took his turn to laugh at the response of the fox.

"I can't think of anyone better to do it… what do you say?"

The young fox stood up and saluted the Commander, looking deadly serious as he made sure to straighten up fully.

"It'd be my honour, Commander…"

Das laughed hard as he watched Striker's reaction, slamming his fist hard into the wall repeatedly as he tried to compose himself.

"Oh… that's… classic… such a stiff…"

Striker growled a little, but stopped himself as he realised now was not the time to get worked up over something so trivial.

"Well… why don't you join us Das? I'm sure you could settle in well here…"

Das fell silent as he looked over at Enigma, sighing a little as he picked up his sword and heading to the doorway once more.

"I… I think it's for the best if I move on… what do you say Enigma?"

The tigress looked up at him curiously as he said it, smiling as she realised what he meant, her tail twitching excitedly behind her.

"What do you mean Dassy?"

The large hybrid blushed a little as she said it, composing himself once more as he leant down and opened his paw to her.

"Come with me… Enigma…"

Enigma blushed heavily as Striker and Eclipse giggled, Blitz simply watching quietly as he sipped his coffee.

"I… I'd love to Das…"

With that she held his paw tightly, looking back at the others curiously to see their reactions, surprised to see them all still smiling widely.

"Go for it Enigma… just keep in touch ok?"

Enigma nodded as she moved back and hugged them all tightly, looking back at Das as he started tapping his foot paw impatiently.

"Sheesh, if you'll miss them that much I guess we can check back here now and then… let's just go ok?"

The tigress giggled as she walked back over to him, pressing lightly against him as she kissed the underside of his muzzle, the hybrid's cheeks rapidly turning a bright red.

"Well… we'll see you later everyone ok?"

They all nodded as they left the room, Blitz turning back to Striker and Eclipse as he gulped down the rest of his coffee.

"Well we'll catch them before they go… for now I guess you two should take some time off… come back when you're ready I don't think they will be anything to worry about for a long time to come…"

They both nodded and saluted respectfully before leaving the room, Commander Blitz leaning back a little in his chair as he simply gazed into nothingness in silent thought.

"If only…"

********************

Epilogue - 1 year later…

The sun was slowly setting over the hillsides, a dark orange colour which only deepened as it disappeared over the edge of the furthest hills, the sky reflecting the summer's haze brilliantly.

"Tempest…"

Slowly she walked towards the large stone before her, a gentle breeze flowing around her, almost unnoticeable where it not for her ribbons slowly swaying behind her.

She stopped as she reached the stone, standing quietly before it in silent thought, clenching the bunch of flowers tightly in her paws as she read the inscription on the grave.

"I always wanted you to see this day… but it seems that destiny had other plans for you… thank you Tempest… you were always there for me… I…"

She stopped herself, kneeling down before the stone as she broke into tears, her white wedding dress slowly flowing around her as a couple of tears splashed onto its silk fabric.

It felt like she was there for an eternity, her tears slowly dying away as she looked up once more and saw the sun slowly setting in the distance, turning around to see a few stars starting to appear in the sky behind her as the horizon darkened slowly.

"I know… you told me not to… but… just this once… I want to… I…"

She stopped as she felt a warm paw on her shoulder, looking up as she saw Striker kneeling beside her, a warm gentle smile on his face.

"I knew you'd be here…"

Eclipse slowly stood up with him before holding him tightly to her, nuzzling into his chest as she started to cry once more, Striker sighing a little as he stroked her gently.

"It's ok Eclipse…"

Eclipse looked up at him, tears still running down her muzzle as she gripped him tightly.

"But why Striker? Why?"

Striker nodded as he stroked her more, looking upwards to the sky, watching it sparkle a little as the sun set further.

"Some things in life just don't seem fair Eclipse… Tempest gave everything he had to protect that which he loved… after loosing everything he had as a child, he never wanted to be in a position where he would be unable to do anything about it again… we were his family, all he wanted was for us to be safe…"

Eclipse whimpered a little as she tried to calm down, her tears still running down her muzzle as Striker leant down and wiped them away.

"Sometimes in order to protect that which you hold close to your heart, you have to sacrifice everything to do it… if he hadn't done all the things he did, who knows what would have happened?"

Eclipse nodded slowly as she loosened her grip, wrapping her arms around him instead as she nuzzled into his chest more.

"I guess you're right Striker… I… I…"

Striker smiled as he leaned down and kissed her softly, Eclipse returning the kiss as he held her tightly in his arms, slowly pulling back again as he stroked her gently.

"You going to be ok Eclipse?"

She nodded again as she stepped back a little, holding his paw in hers as she smiled at him reassuringly.

"I'll be ok now…"

Striker stroked her a little more as he picked up the bunch of flowers and handed them back to her.

"Good… it's time to go Eclipse… everyone's waiting… plus we need to freshen you up a little first, hmm?"

Eclipse giggled a little as she started to walk with him towards the church, pausing momentarily as she looked up at him once more.

"Just… just one last thing…"

Striker nodded as she let go of him and ran back to the large stone, kneeling down slowly as she placed the flowers in front of it carefully.

"Rest well Tempest…"

Fin.

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