Until Botch had been defeated by Oliver about 24 hours ago, he thought that he was the strongest among everyone due to his powers.
He was wrong.
He suffered a shameful defeat after attacking Oliver which was...well, embarassing. It ended Botch's 13 winning streak against powerful bears. After landing into this prison, Botch had no idea what was to happen to him. Maybe he was captured by Graham. Maybe this was just a dream.
Botch was lost deep in thought until he was interrupted by a metallic noise. CLANK. CLANK. CLANK. Before he knew it, he was looking straight into the eyes...no, eye, of a robot.
"I am Rho." he said solemnly. "I will interrogate you."
Botch was led out of the cell and Rho beckoned him into the room to his left. Over a railing, Botch could see drones moving different things and generally doing the everyday chores.
"Fine," Botch said. "Lead me in."
Rho obliged and walked in straight into the room, but Botch stayed. All of a sudden, he turned and dashed blindly. The second he moved, a cold piece of metal was pressed against Botch's head. He knew what it was too well; a barrel of a gun.
Rho immediately threatened to kill him, with his finger already ready to squeeze on the trigger. Botch turned and was led in the room. "Tell me what happened," Rho pressed, "and I will determine the truth and whether you can join the syndicate."
"Why should I?" Botch retorted immediately. Rho's eye narrowed and grew brighter.
"Simple: either someone joins the organisation, or they die trying to escape." Rho gripped his gun once more.
"Fine," Botch said, "I am General Oliver's rival. All I want is-"
"Interesting," Rho mused. " How about you join us, the H.I.P? You have excellent power. You can plot against Graham's very forces."
Botch's mind was racing. A chance to topple Graham's forces, along with a command of his own? That sounded way better than failing every time by himself! The offer was just too irresistible.
"I accept." Botch said.
"Very well. In that case-" Rho was interrupted by a ring of a phone. Botch looked around but there weren't any phones around the place. "Accept," Rho said.
"What?" Botch inquired. "Are you seriously talking to thin air?"
"Of course not." If Rho has a face, he swore that he would be frowning. "Just a call. Oh, wait- yes. You say our preparations are complete? Excellent. Oliver will die."
"Did you just mention Oliver?" Botch's voice was full of hatred.
"Yes. In case you haven't knew, we're leading Oliver straight into a trap." Rho was almost smiling now, that is, if he could smile.
"Am I taking part in this?" Botch's voice was already quavering, but from fear or excitement, Rho did not know.
"Yes," Rho's eye narrowed, " and you, personally, will be giving him his one-way ticket to death."
"Crap! I'm late!" Oliver yelled in frustration. If he was Goku or some other guy, his irritational level would already hit 9001. First he woke up late and was missing the war meeting. Secondly, he couldn't find his phone, and whoever had been that irritating bug had been calling him over 20 times.
"Score!" Oliver yelled in triumph. He found his Item Finder which allowed him to find things with ease, which was helpful as his room had over 200 different things cluttered up all over the place, some of which were more than 3 meters long.
To his outmost dismay, his phone was under a stack of anti-vehicle rifles that he tried to make.
Very carefully, using two paws, he lifted the whole stack and put it aside.
"BZZZZZZZZT." Oliver's phone rang again for the 23rd time. He quickly hit the "leave a message" button and spoke, "I'll be coming! Just wait!"
He grabbed a skateboard and sped down the hallways...and crashed head-first into a wall. Blood trickled down his nose. Whatever, Oliver thought. I've been through far worse than this.
"Well, it looks like Oliver can't make it, so-" Graham was announcing when Oliver barged into the room.
Graham observed Oliver's nose. "What happened?" he asked quizzically.
"Nothing. Just a minor accident," Oliver lied.
Riggs, who was present at the meeting, raised an eyebrow, said, "You mean that?" The screen on the wall flickered and sped to the scene where Oliver slammed into the wall.
"Some accident," Astoria half-joked, half-taunted.
By then, Oliver was ready to die from embarrassment and ready for someone to upload that to Oliver's 100 Fails. He sat down clumsily at his seat and facepalmed himself.
"Well. Let's begin," Graham tried his best to speak loudly. "This was recorded 2 days ago." A video of a large ship with a H.I.P. logo was descending into some jungle played.
"Not my style," Oliver muttered.
"We don't know why this landed in the jungle, but one thing is certain: that place is hostile. Some towns might even be under the H.I.P.'s control. What I plan to do is to send 2 squads undercover to approach the ship, investigate what it's doing there, and blow it to kingdom come," Graham explained. "Riggs and Tillman, you guys are Squad 1. I don't care what method you use. Just get there."
All the fun belongs to them again, Oliver thought dejectedly.
"Astoria, you lead Squad 2. You're our best tactician, after all. While Squad 1 acts as a decoy, your job is to sneak into the ship."
"Who are my squad members?" Astoria asked, but a lump had already formed in her throat. She was pretty sure that they were her least favourite choices to team up with.
Almost smirking, Graham said, "Oliver and Wil."
Oliver's face went through a load of expressions in a matter of microseconds: incomprehension, surprise, shock, confusion, and finally, a really, really, happy expression.
Unfortunately before he could react, he was looking down the barrel of a Viperifle. "Not a chance," she coldly threatened.
"You have to bring him along," Graham sighed. "I'm quite certain that he's the only one who can handle one of the obstacles that'll get in your way at the ship."
Astoria looked unimpressed, but she was interested in one thing. "You already know what's in that ship?"
"No. But I have a vague idea," Graham's eyes squinted. "On that happy note, you're leaving in an hour, so go pack whatever you need. And before you do that again, Oliver, for goodness' sake, please don't bring everything from your room along." He nodded, giving them the signal for them to go.
Astoria looked at Oliver with distaste. "If you mess around-"
"No, no, I never mess around!" He playfully raised his hands in surrender. Well, shall we go, then? I have things to pack," he said.
At his room, he started cramming stuff into a pack. Suddenly, Oliver felt a swipe of a hand next to him. "What was that?" he asked.
Astoria looked guilty, but she said, "Nothing."
"Why aren't you packing?" Oliver looked at Astoria, who was empty-handed.
"In case you didn't know, I have two steel wire-grappling hook thingies, 3 different foldable rifles in my backpack and about 10 more items. Questions?"
"Oh." It never occurred to Oliver that Astoria was seriously loaded. "Done packing," he announced.
"About time," Astoria muttered. "Wil's done, so..."
"Here we go." Oliver finished. Astoria nodded grimly, like there was something really bad happening.
"If this was a mission," Oliver grumbled, "why couldn't they provide us with transport?"
Astoria ignored him. They continued walking down the main street of a city. Finally, she gave Oliver an answer.
"Graham already told us. Vehicles would easily give our position and intentions away. Besides, as he said, some of the towns in the state might be under their influence."
"Even so, can't they just provide us with a car-"
"Shut up already." Astoria turned away. She looked at buildings, studied directories and looked inside shops. She turned to a building. "This is it," she told Oliver and Wil.
"This is what?"
Astoria just scowled and walked in.
"Isn't this..." Wil started to realise where they were.
Astoria nodded. "A pub." Wil and Oliver looked confused.
"Why are we in a pub?" Oliver asked. "We're on a mission! We don't have time to drink! Besides, the last time I checked, we...don't even drink."
"This way." Astoria led them to some seats by the counter. "Keep your eyes peeled."
You still haven't answered my question," Oliver complained.
"Fine. To answer your question, we can easily pick up information in this place," she told him.
Wil looked puzzled. "How do we even get information from...from here?"
"Easy. Some bears here might be robots in disguise. You know what robots mean, right?" They both nodded.
"But how do we find out?" Oliver asked. "Could've taken my modified Sixth-Sense Goggles here, but..."
Astoria gave him a look like that said Seriously? and took out a pair of red goggles from her backpack. "You mean these?" she enquired.
Oliver was shocked. " You took that from my room!" he complained.
"Doesn't matter. By the way, how do you operate this thing?"
"That button over there!" Oliver said, obviously miffed about Astoria taking stuff from his room. "Did you take anything else?" he asked in a cautious tone.
"Don't question me. But yes." was the simple reply given to him.
BEEP. Astoria pressed the "metal detecting" button on the console of the goggles. Suddenly her eyes went wide. "Those three bears over there...they're robots in disguise."
Oliver and Wil, suddenly alarmed, asked, "What do you see?"
"Robots...single eyes...H.I.P. tag...right. We'll follow those guys."
"Your food is here," a waitress told Wil.
I have a bad feeling about this, Oliver thought.
The table was soon piled with pizzas, plated of pasta, hamburgers, steaks and milkshakes. Astoria's and Oliver's jaws hit the floor. "How..." Oliver pointed at all the food.
"Look, Wil, I did say we had plenty of money for food...but how are you going to eat all of THAT?" Astoria looked at him.
He looked at the two innocently. "Is there a problem? This is what I usually eat..."
The duo looked at Wil incomprehensively. Just then, the three robots got up.
"They're leaving!" Astoria whispered. "Right, Oliver and I will get them. Wil, you're our backup. Help us if necessary. Just head to the location we're at and bust some robots.'
"Got it." He nodded. "But..." He looked at the food.
"Just stay here." Astoria explained. "This device will lead us to your location. Let's go!" She pulled out a coat from her pack, wore it, and ran off with Oliver.
Stalking the two robots, Oliver and Astoria kept their eyes on them. The robots walked into a dark alley. One of them pressed its hand against the floor, and it opened to reveal a secret floor down below. They jumped in.
"Guess we have no choice," Oliver said as he jumped in.
The place was dark. Oliver could barely see anything. All of a sudden, the lights flickered on.
"Wait..." Astoria felt something.
"Too late." a voice rang. As Astoria turned around, the robot pressed the trigger. The bullet caught her right in the back. She crumpled to the floor.
"NO!" Oliver yelled.
More H.I.P. robots stepped out. "The fight ends now," one robot proclaimed. "Paws up!"
Oliver obliged. Though the robots were surprised at him cooperating so easily, they still tied him up.
"Oh, and by the way, my friends," Oliver explained to them, "Astoria doesn't wear that coat as a fashion statement."
The robots looked totally confused. Soon, Astoria thought.
Oliver grinned. "It's bulletproof."
The robots needed some time to comprehend what he was saying. Unfortunately for them, they were too slow. A steel wire coiled around one of the robots' neck. Astoria pulled him in.
"Move and I kill him." she threatened.
"Just let him go," the lead robot growled.
Astoria's hands (gloves, actually) glowed and a violent electric shock passed through the robot. Its head went slack. "Oops."
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" A scream came from outside. The lead robot seemed like he was grinning. "I suppose that's the other bear we captured."
"Wil?" Oliver's voice was full of alarm. Suddenly, a dull force hit his back. His vison was disorted and he blacked out. The last thing he saw was the tranquilizer dart sticking out of his leg.
"What..." Astoria spoke. In an instant, the lead robot lauched itself with a fist at her. She would've been brained if she wasn't so good at hand-to-hand combat. In one quick dodge, she grabbed its arm, flipped the robot over and grabbed its head. The gloves glowed again and another robot was down.
What she saw next completely confused her. The robots and Oliver were gone. However, she calmly bent down and picked up a device. After studying it, she knew what it was: a teleportation device. After making sure that she had the right equipment needed for her plan, she made a silent promise to the robots. I'm coming for you, she proclaimed.
VROOM. The car skidded to a halt outside the H.I.P's hideouts. Astoria jumped off the car. She had simply hitched a ride on a H.I.P vehicle headed straight for the hideout. Swiftly, she ducked behind a pipe. Apparently, this place had its own generator, explaining the pipes. Robots marched out of the car, and stood guard at the entrance.
"Hi." Astoria mocked as she ran up and swiftly took down a robot with her gloves.
"AAAAAAAAAH!" it screamed. "Target identified!" another yelled. "Weapons free!"
They let loose a burst of bullets. Astoria immediately threw her grappling hook and launched herself up the roof. "Chew on this." she calmly told them as she threw down a grenade before running away. Even from a distance, she could feel the heat as the robots all blew up.
Just then, a crew of robots appeared on the roof. Thinking quickly, Astoria slid down a ventilation pipe and down into the building. "A close call," she muttered.
While she was running, she was aware of three robots tailing her. "What?!" she yelled.
She had ran right into a dead end. Cursing under her breath, she turned around. The robots circled her.
"Don't take it personally," one of them told her. "We're just trying to live." Saying that, he tapped a button and turned invisible.
At that moment, all hell broke loose. One of them charged forward and let loose a swarm of bullets from his gun. Astoria threw her hook up and climbed up to the third storey.
Suddenly, she dropped to her knees. "ARGH!" she exclaimed. The third robot stood next to her and let out a ear wrenching noise. Fumbling in her pocket, she took out a taser and pulled the trigger. It struck the robot and the sound stopped.
"Kill her!" the second one yelled as it fired at her. She jumped off the third storey and threw a dagger at the third one that got him good. Her grappling hook was fired and it hooked on to the railing. "You're next," she muttered.
The second robot stood in front of her while she was swinging down. "DIE!" he yelled. Astoria stuck her knee out and let go of the grappling hook. "No-"
Before it could finish saying anything, Astoria's knee struck deep into it and was flung away. She quickly curled up in a foetal position as she skidded on the ground and rolled on the floor. When she got up, the first thing she did was grab the air behind her. The last robot's Cloak wore off immediately. "Checkmate," she said.
"You're as good as I heard," it told her. "Unfortunately, your fight doesn't end here." She raised an eyebrow.
"The organization will-BLAAAAAURGH!" With her electric gloves, the robot was finished off. She looked at another ruined building in the distance. I take it that that's where I'm supposed to be going, she thought.
She charged out of the place and ran towards the ruined building. Her silent footsteps were suddenly interrupted by two cars. She dived behind a pile of rubble. The cars stopped and eight robots walked out.
"Man, I really hate jobs like capturing intruders. After this, I'm gonna take a nap," one of them said.
"No, you are not going to take a nap." another said.
Unfortunately for them, though, none of them would ever live to have a nap. Astoria threw a small charge under one of the cars and primed itself. She quickly set it off.
BOOOM! The explosion caught the other robots off-guard. She placed her paw on one of the robots. Her gloves glowed, and another one was down. A dagger took the other robot standing next to it.
Six down, two to go, she thought. She threw a grenade at the remaining car and it blew up in smoke and fire. Seeing this, the robots in the building charged out. She quickly hid behind a chunk of a wall. PING. Something fell at her feet. Immediately, she realized what it was-a grenade from a grenade launcher! In a flash, she leaped away. The grenade detonated and she was blown away, though unscathed. Looking behind her, she widened her eyes and leaped away again. There were two more grenades! They blew up as huge clouds of rose into the air. The bear who fired it looked at the scene.
"Is she dead?" another bear asked him. "Yeah, I guess-"
That was his biggest mistake. Astoria jumped out of the smoke and got him with a throwing knife. The other bear heaved up a laser cannon and pulled the trigger. She rolled and dodged the first blast. Firing her grappling hook, she flew towards a tree. The second blast? She used her legs and pushed against the tree. The robot missed and blew up the tree instead. She grabbed his head and slammed him down on the ground for good measure and raced into the building.
In there, she raced up the stairs and looked around and found a room that was practically the only one that had a door. It was left slightly open. She knew what that meant. Kicking open the door, she grabbed at the air and caught a bomb. As she expected. Everyone used these kind of traps. Spinning around, she threw the bomb out of the window.
As she looked down, she found a communication device. "Hello." it said.
At another building, Oliver was struggling. "Let me go!" he yelled to the robots.
The lead robot spoke to Astoria over the comm. "We are in your rifle's firing range. If you shoot one of us, that building is going down. We have set charges in that building."
Astoria replied, "Whatever."
The robots looked at each other uncertainly. One of them looked out of the window. He appeared to be checking on her. "She's taking out a rifle!" he yelled.
"Remember what I said!" the lead robot said with his hand gripped on the detonator.
Back at the ruined building, Astoria took out a Mamba rifle for minimum damage. She took a special round that she made and loaded it in. Peering into the scope, she aimed at her target.
And she pulled the trigger.
The bullet flew. And flew. And continued to cut the air in its path.
And it hit Oliver, red liquid spraying out.
Simultaneously, all the robots yelled and staggered back. They did not expect this coup de grace. "AHHH!" the lead robot hollered. "That crazy woman! She shot her own comrade!"
When the cresendo of screams and hollers came to a stop, the leader finally got over himself and spoke into the comm. "What...WHAT THE HECK DID YOU JUST DO?!"
Astoria, on the other side, replied calmly, "I have no need for him, remember? He's weaker, and I can finsh this mission by myself."
After comprehending what she just said, the robot nearly broke into a grin. If he could. "Nice thinking. Unfortunately, you're going to be equally dead."
He pressed the button. The other base exploded into a heap of junk, ash and fire. Too bad for the robots though; they heard something coiling around something. "What was that?" one of them said.
It was too late. Astoria jumped into the room and destroyed the lead robot by shooting him with a Dead Eye. She spun around and hit the other with a Battering Ram. Dodging a shot from another robot, she aimed the Dead Eye again. It hit him square in the face and he collapsed.
A drone, this time particularly smart, grabbed Astoria by the neck and choked her. "GAH!" he yelled. Oliver had stabbed him with his Kumakiri.
"Nice one. What were you thinking, shooting me with a rifle?" he said.
She just rolled her eyes, saying, "Hollow Mamba shell. Usually it would be filled with gunpowder or lead or something, but this time it was filled with diluted blood. For extra effects."
They both looked at the door of the room. "About time to find Wil," Oliver said.
They charged at the door.