The journey had been a long one. From the deserts to the mountain range, the Clydesdale Model had used the cover of night to take his charge to where they could receive answers and training. “Theta, you will have to progress alone. I can’t climb these rocks. I will wait for you,” he drawled.
“Thank you, Wilson…” The young Reploid slid off Wilson’s back, and gazed up at the cliff face. Small indentations had been made in the sheer sections as hand and footholds, well worn from other Ferals using them. “Wink, do you want to come with me, or stay with Wilson?”
The small Cyber Elf flittered to Theta, “Always with you!”
Wilson knelt down, and opened the compartment under his saddle. “I know you haven’t used these before, but Red Wolf’ll teach you how to use them.” He let Theta take the twin beam sabers. “These were with you when I found you. Good luck. I’ll be by, hidin’.”
“Thank you, Wilson.” Strapping the sabers to her thighs, Theta began the climb up to a series of hidden caves. This was her first time alone, away from Wilson. Wink clung to Theta’s braided black hair, reserving her own energy. It would take hours to reach the caves.
By the time the moon descended West, Theta shuffled along a narrow passage, stopping when she heard what sounded like fighting.
“Maverick!” a red Reploid threw aside a Feral. “Where is Red Wolf?”
“I will say nothing!” the Feral stammered. “Not to the likes of you or Neo Arcadia!”
“You realize the magnitude of the crimes your little group had committed?” The red Reploid aimed one of his massive guns at the Feral. “Destroying countless roads, stealing the workers that tend to our farms? You are worsening the crisis Master X has to deal with!”
“Sage Harpuia. Any sign of Red Wolf?”
“No.” The green Reploid landed, his sabers gleaming in the moonlight. “These caves are well armed, though. We’ve had trouble breaching one of the chambers after a cave-in. But we did find a small cache of E Crystals, which have been claimed and shipped back home. So this isn’t a complete waste of resources.”
“We have to find Red Wolf, though. What if he is arming and training more Ferals? We already had three cave-ins from planted black powder explosives.” To the Feral, Fefnir sneered through his teeth, “You. You are coming with us.”
“I do not know how long we can continue this charade, Fighting Fefnir.” The green general sighed, “With Master X… … What if I am unable to lead, should the public find out?”
“You’re doing a good job. But we need to bring back something more than just a Feral. We need Red Wolf.”
Theta listened, and shifted to get a better look. A rock slipped under her foot, sending her sliding down the rocks. She scrabbled for a handhold, letting out a cry as she felt her ankle jam into a crevice.
“Wink… Shhh…” Theta looked up, and saw the two Reploids staring down at her.
“Well, look what we have here. A spy!”
“Easy, Fefnir. This one looks to be a child. She can be Processed.” Harpuia hovered, before grabbing Theta around her ankle, loosening it from the rocks. “Don’t move; we’ll get you out.”
“Let me go! Hey!” She squirmed.
Harpuia stunned her with a small shock of electricity, “I said hold still. We won’t hurt you.” Harpuia lifted Theta to a flat area, where Fefnir kept the Feral at bay. He laid her down, “Do you have any weapons on you?”
“…” Theta could not move, as Harpuia took her sabers, and the scrap metal blades she had previously worked with. “…Don’t take W-Wink…”
“Wink?” Harpuia noticed the Cyber Elf. “I’m sorry, kid, but I have to.”
“Stay with Theta! Always with Theta!”
Pantheons assembled, and cuffed Theta and the Feral. Harpuia held the Cyber Elf as he climbed on the mecha griffin, “I’ll take good care of your elf, Theta. Please do not take this personally. You are under arrest for being in a restricted location. Let’s go, Aztec Falcon.”
Sage Harpuia went to the throne room, expecting to see the hologram of Copy X he planted there. He held the Cyber Elf, reassuring the sprite of living energy that he was not going to absorb her.
“G-General Sage Har-Harpuia…” A blue-eyed Copy X smiled at him, “Good to s-see you again…”
“Master X?” Harpuia was taken aback. “You...”
“Y-yes, I am back. All thanks to my physician… D-Dr. Weil.” Copy X MKII nodded, and a cyborg man appeared.
“Him?! M-Master X… That’s…”
“H-He has saved my life, General. Show him re-respect.” Copy X MKII smiled warmly, “You are relieved of y-your duties as acting l-leader. Thank you…”
“Do not worry, dear General. I will look after Master X’s health from now on.” Dr. Weil smirked, the orange enclosure for his head glowing ominously. “Oh, and you have a Cyber Elf. “
“G-give me the Elf, please, G-general.”
Sighing, Harpuia handed the Cyber Elf to Copy X MKII, who seemed amused by the sprite. “It was seized from a prisoner we took today, from hunting for Red Wolf. That Feral is still elusive.”
“D-describe the prisoner…”
“A child, looks untrained. I’m unsure if she is a Reploid, or a well-made Feral.” Sage Harpuia paused, giving Dr. Weil a suspicious glance, “She will be evaluated and Processed for farm labor. The other prisoner is a Counterfeit Feral, unwilling to give information.”
“Good. S-see to it that the J-Judges interview both. Any n-names?”
“Just the child. The Elf stated her name was Theta.”
Dr. Weil’s face twisted into a scowl, “Master X, if I may, I will tend to this child myself… She was ... …Missing.”
“Do that, D-Doctor… She m-must be dealt with…” Copy X MKII’s voice took on a sinister tone, before reverting back to a passive dismissal. “I w-will keep the Elf.”
“No! Always with Theta!” Wink protested.
“Y-you are my Elf n-now…” Copy X MKII stroked the small sprite, wincing as he felt the shock of a bite. “N-now that wasn’t n-necessary…”
“Oh, Master X, I can also take the Elf. Who knows what it may have picked up from being out there.” Dr. Weil was handed the Elf, and he added, “If I can sanitize the data, I will give it back.”
“Th-thank you, my Good Doctor. General S-Sage Harpuia, you are dismissed.”
Dr. Weil gazed at the enclosure set up for Theta. It reminded him of that Counterfeit from a century ago. One who had caused all sorts of trouble, seducing Omega and making him escape. Picking up a helmet, Dr. Weil mused, “I will not make the same mistake. When you come back, my pet, you will train this one in your shadow.” Upgraded Pantheons, Variants, led Theta to Dr. Weil’s lab. “Ah, there you are, at long last…”
Theta backed up, until the Variants pushed her back towards Dr. Weil. “Where’s Wink?”
“Oh, your Elf is unharmed. Come in, come here. Let me take a good look at you.” Dr. Weil grabbed Theta’s wrist, squeezing it in warning, “My, you’re just as I imagined. A little bulky, but you are still growing. Heh. Don’t be afraid of your master now.”
“Of course, my pet: I built you. You belong to me.” Dr. Weil ginned, as he pushed Theta into the enclosure. “I was so distraught when I came to find you, and your bunker was utterly ransacked! I thought I lost you for good! What would I have told your father?”
“Why, yes! The Devil Reploid, the Great Messiah of what is coming, my dear girl. He will be back soon, and I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see you at last.” Dr. Weil shut the door of the enclosure, “Now no escaping, Theta. I will find your kidnapper shortly.”
“…Wilson didn’t kidnap me.”
“Oh? But he took you from where you belonged. But if I am to meet this character and determine for myself, perhaps you may have a point. Who is Wilson?”
“Wilson... He woke me up. He taught me to ride, and he cared for me.”
“If he cared he would have been with you.”
“He’s a Clydesdale Model. He could not climb those cliffs.” Theta sat down, drawing her knees to her chest.
“Oh…” Dr. Weil then burst out laughing, “You funny little thing! Clydesdale Models are extinct!” He pressed a button, shocking Theta, his voice suddenly dripping venom, “Now don’t lie. Who. Took. You?”
Voice cracking, Theta whispered, “W-Wilson… I’m telling the truth…”
“Then I will find him, and scrap him.”
“No!” Theta yelped as she was shocked again.
“You foolish child!” Dr. Weil shocked her yet again, “You just readily give out information! Wilson is as good as SCRAP!” He laughed, mocking her, “By the time I am done with you, the world will be mine!”
Wilson paced the base of the cliff, hoping Theta had reached Red Wolf. He finally lay down to rest, pulling out his Solar Fabric cover to absorb the sun’s energy and recharge him. It was difficult to put on, as Theta wasn’t there to help. “Theta, Wink, I hope y’all are okay…” he murmured as he went to sleep.
“Hm?” Wilson started to wake up. It was near sundown now, and he opened his eyes to see a red Reploid with flowing blond hair. “Who… No…”
“Horse. I am low on energy. I need a ride to Neo Arcadia. Now.” The Reploid threw aside the cover, and climbed on Wilson’s back.
Wilson stood, bucking the Reploid off, “Now listen, boy. Y’all just can’t demand a ride. I’m here for a REASON. Learn you some manners!”
With that, the Reploid took out his saber. “Take me to Neo Arcadia,” he pressed the tip of the blade to Wilson’s neck, “Please.”
Taking one last look at the cliff, Wilson knelt, “All right. Fine. Get on…”
Smirking, the Reploid climbed on Wilson’s back, adjusting the stirrups and gripping the handle on the saddle with one hand, keeping the saber aimed at Wilson’s head. “If you deviate from my instructions to reach my master, your head flies. Let’s go.”
The two journeyed to Neo Arcadia, the red Reploid helping himself to an E Crystal Wilson had saved for Theta. Anyone who was in the way, Feral, Neo Arcadian, was killed quickly by this Reploid.
“May I ask you a question?” Wilson asked.
“Who are you?”
“The Messiah. And I don’t think I will spare your life for this favor. I will let my Master, Lord Weil, decide your fate.” Omega grinned, using his blade to leave a small, bleeding cut on the side of Wilson’s neck. “I like to kill the big ones…”
Wilson shivered, realizing who it was on his back. His mind went back to the Elf Wars, and his narrow escape the first time. Then, his thoughts went to Theta. He hoped that she would be unharmed. Wilson made haste to run to where Omega directed him, wincing each time the saber nicked his side to make him run faster.
Bleeding, exhausted, and terrified, Wilson finally made it to a nondescript building outside Neo Arcadia. Omega jumped off Wilson’s back, grabbing the harness and pulling Wilson with him. He began punching a code into a keypad, opening a hidden door. “You come with me, Horse.”
Underground, in the lab, Dr. Weil grinned when he heard those familiar footsteps. “Omega, at last. You… Brought Wilson. Thank you.”
“Hm? Oh, you know this fleabag?” Omega asked, before noticing the enclosure. “And who is that? My first victim?”
“Theta!” Wilson broke from Omega’s grasp, galloping to the enclosure. “Oh Theta!”
Theta stood, reaching through the bars for her guardian, sobbing, “Wilson! They are going to scrap you!”
“I’ll get you out, Theta!”
“No, don’t!” Theta backed up as Wilson kicked the enclosure, both getting electrocuted in the process. Both Reploids hit the floor.
“How cute. Omega, I think we can just place the horse into stasis-lock for now. I’ve yet to decide what to do with him.”
“Heh, fine. But who’s the brat?”
“Her?” Dr. Weil opened the enclosure, having Variants pull out the limp girl. “If you are my son, this would be my granddaughter.”
Omega’s eyes flashed a livid crimson “WHAT? You CONTAMINATED my perfect genes?! With WHO?”
“Oh, don’t worry about the mother. You killed her so long ago you don’t even remember. Not that she was any real loss. Now, your first orders.”
Omega glared as Theta was strapped to a table. “…She looks nothing like me…”
“You are not to harm Theta. She is to train with you. Who better to teach this little demigoddess, after all?” Dr. Weil chuckled, “She will need some adjustments, as she’s been cognitively contaminated by that horse.”
“Wait, what? You mean that horse had her first?”
“Yes. Wilson stole her from me. Could have been an accident, could have been intentional, knowing how Clydesdale Models have strong protective programming. Either way, he may be of some use to me, thus why he is going into stasis-lock.”
Theta finally regained movement, and struggled against the binds. Dr. Weil placed his hand on her forehead, “Shhh… It will all be over soon. You will become something incredible. Humanity will experience a new world, a world with only one ruler.” Taking the helmet into his hands, Weil secured it on Theta’s head, covering her eyes. “Now, I will go over your memories, and see what I am working with.”
Omega leaned against a wall, bored. He noticed Wink in a container, and picked it up.
“So what’s with the Elf?”
“Just an uncommon Hacker Elf. I had left it in the bunker with Theta to get her started. Seems she didn’t absorb its power. But that will allow me to rewrite the Elf’s data for when Theta will need her most.”
“Oh? So why try to improve perfection? I am the God of Destruction. Why do I need a protégé?”
“Every perfect plan requires a backup.” Dr. Weil began his scan, “I am certain you will not fail, but having Theta will ensure what you desire most: bloodshed. Making the world bend to my will is your directive. Besides, I’m sure you will come to enjoy helping our little lotus blossom bloom.”
Omega froze, before shaking his head. “Fine. I will train her. But no mercy.”
“That’s the spirit.” Dr. Weil watched the memories, “So she’s capable of fighting while mounted. That is interesting.”
“She has poor form. Clumsy.”
“That’s what you will fix, Omega. I gave her two sabers, in case one breaks. But it seems she is leaning towards dual-wielding.”
“Hmph.” Omega watched the memories, thinking. “Sure, dual wielding is difficult, but possible.”
“General Sage Harpuia of Neo Arcadia does so. I may have to copy his fighting data to implant into Theta.”
“No, just let me train her. I am all she will need.”
“Good. Meanwhile, I will begin upgrading the Eight Gentle Judges, and make them obey my will.”