The first adventure of Natalia and her group, they face off against a robotic civilization called the Interrogators, whose main goal is to learn everything they can, by interrogating everything they encounter. When Alice Gehabich is taken by these monstrocities, it's a race against time to bring her back...before she's tortured to death...
Chapter 1: Voyage HomeEdit
It's been a month since the group had left Earth. Already, they were far beyond the borders of Coalition Space, and now they were in Wild Space, where law and order are did not exist. There, only their own strength can protect them from whatever was out there.
Their first determined stop was Shun Kazami's and Alice Gehabich's homeworld. The duo wanted to speak to their friends, face to face, one more time before fully joining Natalia on her journey.
As the Hope's Shard hurdled through Phase Space, Alice was waiting in the living area on the Hope's Shard. Her excitement kept her from being able to sleep. To keep herself occupied, she logged onto the database on the Hope's Shard's computers, and decided to look more stuff up on what's happened with Hellcat Squadran.
She skimmed over many titles: "Consortium War: Battle of Reach", "Post-War Conflict: Battle of Ryloth", "Decepticon Conflict: Battle of New Carson". Most of the event information is on different battles and wars that have occured in Hellcat Squadran's history. Then, finally, one file came up that immediately got Alice's attention: "2171: The Journey Begins". She about openned the file when she noticed the description: 'Final Minutes before my journey began: Natalia Llehctim, Experiment X-O9Q.'
Alice quickly realized this was part of Natalia's recordings and backspaced to the archives. Then, as she continued scrolling, she heard someone coming. She nearly jumped, as she turned around, seeing Natalia enter the room.
"Alice," she said, "You're still awake? I thought you've gone to bed already..."
"I...I just couldn't sleep," Alice said, nervously.
"Excited, huh?" Natalia asked, "Felt the same way 19 years back, when I returned to my home for the first time after leaving for my journey."
Alice nodded to her. "How much...did your world change when you returned?"
"Quite a bit: 2 people I thought dead had returned to life, one of Hellcat Squadran's most dangerous enemies perished, we got a puffball as one of our allies..." As she listed the many things that changed, she noticed Alice seemed to be growing nervous. "...Then again, you have to remember I was gone for 47 years. Your time away from your home wasn't nearly as long: the first of those things I listed didn't occur until 19 years after I left..."
"Alright...still...what if things changed while I was gone?"
"Alice, you've only been gone about 2 months: what all could have happened?"
Alice just thought her response: Do you really want to know?
Chapter 2: World in ConflictEdit
A few hours before the next 'morning', Alice finally got to sleep. However, she had to wake up as Natalia reported they were almost to their destination. Alice and Shun talked to themselves about what Alice and Natalia talked about last night.
However, then Natalia came to the living area, a grim expression on her face. "Looks like this isn't going to be a pretty happy homecoming for you 2..." she said. She returned to the cockpit, and the duo followed them...
They'd arrived at Alice and Shun's homeworld...to find a fleet of starships attacking from orbit. "No..." Alice squeaked.
"Don't worry," Jooranok clicked, "We're not taking this laying down: power to all Proton Beam emittors, Plasma Disk launchers, and Bio-Pulse Beams." Like a monster awoken from its rest, bioluminescent lights across the Hope's Shard came to life: purplish and greenish hues lit up on several points on the hull, and a single, crackling orange spark appeared on the bow. "Alright, let's get in there and figure out what's going on. Screamer, you there?!"
"Yes, Jooranok, I'm here, I know what to do. Time to plow the road!"
On the planet below, in Marukura Mansion, Dan Kuso, Runo Misaki, Marucho Marukura, and Julie Makimoto were watching the invasion using Marucho's set of advanced sensors, from his computer room. However, as the invading ships came close, the group noticed some of the invading destroyers spontaneously exploding.
"What's going on? Are they self-destructing or something?" Dan Kuso asked.
"I don't think so," Marucho said, "The satellites are detecting weapons fire in the fleet, but the source is moving so fast that, in their damaged state, they can't track what's attacking the fleet."
"What're you talking about?" Dan's Bakugan, Drago, asked, "There's nothing else nearby that can strike these ships down. What could be..."
"Wait, what was that?" Runo called out, pointing at the screen.
Marucho re-wound the readings, and zoomed in on the silouette that appeared on the screen. The group immediately recognized it. "It's the Hope's Shard!" Marucho pointed out.
Dan's Bakugan, Drago, called out, "They're here?! They must be outnumbered if they're here alone!"
Then, Marucho's Bakugan, Preyas hopped out and looked at the sensors. "Well, if you ask me, it looks like they're not alone...and even if they were, they're doing well for themselves," Preyas said, "I mean look at that! They're taking on one of the cruisers!"
"What?!" Dan called out, looking at the sensors, as, sure enough, the Hope's Shard and its companion-craft moved on an attack vector for one of the invaders' cruisers.
"Jooranok, ready that 8472 Bio-Pulse Beam...We don't have time for this and I want us planetside ASAP!"
"Readying Bio-Pulse Beam...let's hope this works: I never trusted that Species 8472 crap..."
The bow of the Hope's Shard split open, and biokinetic energy arced across the Emittor. The invader's cruiser angled towards the Hope's Shard, seeing the new biokinetic weapon charging, but was too late, as, while the cruiser prepared its broadside, the Bio-Pulse Beam fired, slicing right through the cruiser.
"Holy crap!" Jooranok called out, "We *buzz* impaled the cruiser with that beam!"
"Confirmed strike on the battleship behind it!" Natalia called out.
"Crap! I guess this Species 8472 crap isn't 'crap' after all!" Jooranok responded. He then looked at the console and said, "We must have hit the reactor or something. Cruiser's going critical!"
The cruiser exploded, and, as the battleship attempted to angle in to strike at the Hope's Shard, the ship cleared the cruiser's debris field, hurdling towards the battleship at top speed. "I'll start up the shard launchers and plasma cutters. Let's take that thing..."
Jooranok never finished. "Belay that," Natalia interrupted, "Prepare Plasma Disks and aim towards that scar in the hull." She pointed on the battleship's hull near the main gun where the Bio-Pulse Beam hit the battleship.
"Natalia, I really feel we should cripple that cannon first, before it can..."
"I understand that: which is why I say we go for the scar," she said.
The tone she used reminded Jooranok of Natalia's older brother, who taught Natalia about strategy, and therefore, Jooranok decided to just follow the order. "Alright...arming Plasma Disks..."
The Hope's Shard then angled in and fired on the Battleship, as indicated. The disks slipped inside the scar and struck the systems inside. For a moment, nothing...then...
"By the Overlord...I cannot believe it! I'm detecting a chain reaction in the battleship's main cannon! It's going to..."
The battleship exploded. The damage caused by the Plasma Disks caused the charging cannon to experience severe feedback, reversing the energy on itself, destroying the ship.
"The way to the planet is open!" Sub-Zero pointed out.
"We've got to help the others!" Alice cried out.
"Jooranok, flank speed for Marukura Manor!" Natalia ordered, as the Hope's Shard dived into the planet's atmosphere.
"They broke through!" Marucho called gleefully.
"Wow! Did you see that?! They smashed that battleship like it was nothing!" Dan called out, equally excited.
Then, Marucho connected to the computers of several of their friends, all of which were shocked to hear that the Hope's Shard was here, taking on the invaders, but glad to hear they broke through.
"Uh...oh..." Marucho then said.
"Oh...what is it, pal?!" Preyas asked.
"We have transports coming this way...they'll be here before the Hope's Shard," Marucho answered.
"What?!" Dan called.
He tried to leave the room, but Runo caught him. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Drago and I gotta hold 'em off, don't we buddy?" Dan responded.
Drago then exclaimed, "When you come up with these plans that involve me, could you at least do me the courtesy of telling me BEFORE you volunteer me for them?!"
Suddenly, a loud thump shook the building. "They've landed!" Marucho called out, refering to the invaders.
"Then we have to fight them now!" Dan called. He then rushed outside. The others tried to catch him, unwittingly leaving the comm channel open. Unfortunately, the others only caught up with him as he stepped out on the landing pad...and encountered a group of fleshy creatures that looked like mutilated humans. "This...is not good..."
Chapter 3: The Interrogators StrikeEdit
"We have 2 destroyers on our tail, and the enemy has reached the manor!" Jooranok reported.
"Well, down those destroyers and get us to the manor ASAP!" Natalia ordered.
The Hope's Shard dodged 2 volleys of lasers from the destroyers pursuing it, before firing Plasma Cutters at it. The beams shot towards the destroyers, and while one managed to evade them, one was hit in the engine pod, dropping out of the sky and crashing into a (thankfully) empty field below.
"The 2nd destroyer is still on us!" Jooranok warned.
"Prepare Plasma Disks, target the engines!" Natalia ordered. The disks of Plasma shot out from all over the Hope's Shard, and struck the destroyer in several places. One sliced an engine pod off, forcing the destroyer to veer into a lake below.
Soon, Wardington City, and Marukura Manor, came into view. However, they also saw an Infantry Transport near the landing pad on the Manor.
"Jooranok, prepare Proton Beams..."
The fleshy creatures advanced towards the group, Dan at the head. "Come on Drago, you ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be..." Drago said, an edge of determination in his voice. However, one of the creatures shot out tentacles that nabbed Dan's throwing arm.
"What the?! Let go!" Dan shouted, trying to pull free.
"So much for that!" Drago said.
"Not now!" Dan exclaimed, still tugging on the tentacles. The others tried to free him, but the other creatures began approaching...then 2 blue-indigo Proton Beams streaked by and slammed the Infantry Transport.
The group looked where the Proton Beams came from, and saw the Hope's Shard, hurdling towards the transport, weapons firing. The transport tilted and began lowering towards the ground, but the Hope's Shard continued firing, obliterating all traces that the transport was there.
The Hope's Shard then swooped in, like a vast bird of prey, and openned its hatch. A familiar form burst out like a gust of wind. 3 of the fleshy creatures were knocked into the air and eviscerated by the blur, before it settled below.
"Wait...Natalia?!" Runo exclaimed, recognizing the girl, who was now standing in a pile of shreaded flesh and blood.
Natalia turned around, facing the rest of the creatures, before punching her own hand, cracking her neck, and asking, in a menacing voice, "Alright, who's first?"
Then, another figure left the Hope's Shard, and fired a pair of ice balls at one of the creatures. Then, using a sword, the individual moved forward and shattered the abomination. Finally, 2 more figures exited of the ship.
"Alice! Shun!" Dan called out, as the duo edged their way past the unfolding battle towards them. "It's great to see you two ok, and Alice, you had us worrying there."
"I'm sorry about that..." Alice said.
"It's ok," Marucho said, "It really wasn't something any of us could control."
"But who's that man over there?" Julie asked, pointing to the ice-using figure. Then, pointing at Natalia, she asked, "And what about Natalia?"
"Sub-Zero will be fine," Shun said, as the individual in question rammed through 3 of the creatures, before cleanly slicing their heads off with his blade.
"And it looks like Natalia has things under her control," Alice said, as Natalia charged up an Aura Strike and used it to spear through 2 of the abominations.
However, then some more of the fleshy creatures approached. "Then I guess these are ours..." Dan said, "Come on, Drago, let's show them what we can do!" With that, Dan sent out Drago, who, after transforming into Bakugan form, began attacking the fleshy creatures from the air.
"The constructs are being cut down...they must be worth something if they are that powerful..."
"Take one of them. We need to find out what they know..."
Suddenly, the group heard a scream. They looked to where it came from...and saw Alice, held in the vicegrip of a robot. Shun was knocked to the side, but he tried to get up, only for another robot, this one reminding Natalia of a set of MJOLNIR Armor, to keep him on the ground.
Natalia pulled out a semi-organic pistol and aimed it at the robot's head. "Let her go, or..."
"Or what?" the robot said, "You think you can hit me, without hitting her?"
Natalia kept her gun up, but didn't shoot: she wasn't sure. The robot then produced a syringe, and injected its contents into Alice's neck, causing her to go limp. Then, it, Alice, and the robot keeping Shun on the ground disappeared in a swirl of energy.
"No!" Dan shouted, as the robot made off with his friend. Hearing a roar above, the group looked up, as something massive moved through the clouds. Soon, it was revealed to be some kind of carrier, which then made for space.
"Come on!" Natalia called, running back over to the Hope's Shard, which had lowered enough for everyone to climb onto the ramp, "We have to follow them!" As everyone got onboard, but then, several other individuals arrived.
"Hey, what're you guys doing here?!" Dan asked, as the group's friends Klaus von Hertzan, Chan Lee, Julio Santana, Komba O'Charlie , Joe Brown, Jenny, Jewls, Billy Gilbert, and Christopher arrived.
"You really should remember to shut the chat off," Chan pointed out.
Christopher looked around bewildered. "Say, where's Alice?"
"Yeah, where is she?" Klaus asked as well.
"She's been kidnapped by those things, and we're going after her!" Natalia called out.
"Then we're going too! We have to help her!" Christopher exclaimed.
Natalia responded, "Then load up and get ready to move out, we have to chase down that carrier before it goes FTL!"
Chapter 4: A Race Against TimeEdit
2 destroyers and a cruiser descended into the atmosphere behind the carrier, as the Hope's Shard shot up towards space behind it.
"Gah! We don't have time for this. Arm Bio-Pulse Beam and Proton Beams! We can't let them get in our way!"
The Hope's Shard split open at the bow again, revealing its Bio-Pulse Beam Emittor. As the crackling Biogenic Beam arced across space, the Proton Beam weapons fired, striking the destroyers. The Bio-Pulse Beam split the cruiser in half and the Proton Beams tore the destroyers asunder.
The vessel soon escaped the world's atmosphere, as the carrier came into sight. Dishearteningly, though, the carrier disappeared in a flash of light, as a pair of battleships angled in.
Natalia seemed consumed by both despair and fury. Her eyes seemed to glow as she squeezed the armrests of her seat. Outside, one of the battleships seemed to fragment, twist, and warp, as though the space/time continuum were distorting, and pulling it with it. The other one seemed to begin turning to dust, as though time were accelerating around it.
Suddenly, the droid 'Typhon' came up, and said in his monotone voice, "Get a hold of yourself!" before slapping her in the back of the head with his manipulator appendage. At that moment, the 2 battleships stopped distorting, although the damage was done: one battleship was twisted worse than a pretzal and the other was already half-way to being space dust.
Natalia seemed to be frustrated and upset that she failed to save her friend. A glance at Shun...revealed he was taking it worse...
The Hope's Shard docked with one of the damaged ships, and Jooranok scittered onboard, in order to retrieve the computer files. (Natalia's attack having pretty much destroyed both ships' comm arrays) After some time, he returned with as much information as was on the ship's (mangled) computers.
After some work, he was able to upload the information to the computers on the Hope's Shard. Afterwards, he set it up to allow everyone to read it. "The information was heavily encrypted, so it took me a long time to decipher it. Apparently, these invaders call themselves the 'Interrogators'."
"I suppose it wouldn't take more than 3 guesses to guess why..." Natalia said.
"Based on this," Jooranok continued, "They kidnap and torture organic lifeforms. They seem to be quite paranoid: as though they believe anything that's not one of them is against them. Maybe that's why they kidnapped Alice: they want to obtain as much information on this made-up 'conspiracy' as they can from her..."
"Wait, what happens when they get nothing out of her?" Dan asked, angrily.
Jooranok lowered his head. "...I don't think those flesh drones came from nowhere..."
Everyone seemed shocked by this. Dan then exclaimed, "I'm not gonna just wait here and let Alice be turned into some kind of zombie! We HAVE to do something!"
"You find anything on where they're going?" Natalia asked, urgently.
Jooranok looked over the data for a minute, before responding, "No, but I got locations for some of their facilities."
"We'll search the closest on in a direct line from where that ship departed, we HAVE to hunt them down!"
As everyone else returned to the other sections of the ship, Jooranok, Natalia, Sub-Zero, Shun, and (over the comm) Starscream-3 stayed in the databank room. "Anything else?" Natalia asked, before the others could leave.
Jooranok had an expression that was obviously the Scrin equivalent to worry. "Before...before their victim...expires...these Interrogators...their forms of torture are...gruesome...just horrible...I fear that even if we find Alice, she may not be the same person we knew, unless we can chase that ship down in time...If not..."
Jooranok's worry went unfinished: it was something that everyone shared.
Chapter 5: Darkest HourEdit
The Hope's Shard exited Phase Space above what appeared to be a giant ice ball. Once the group had arrived, everyone had gathered in the main entry bay of the Hope's Shard. The idea was for Natalia, Shun, and Sub-Zero to head down to the surface and find some trace of the carrier that took Alice. Dan insisted he go to, as did the rest of the group, but Natalia aptly pointed out that this was a stealth mission, and with Shun and Sub-Zero's ninja training, and Natalia's time-warping powers, they would be much better suited for the mission.
Once they were planetside, the team emerged from the ship. Immediately, they were hit by a blast of cold. "Shoot...I wish I had equipped my Black Fire powers here..." Natalia said, shivering.
They had landed near a glacial shelf, below the Hope's Shard being a massive ocean. In front of them was a large u-shaped valley, and beyond was a pair of large structures. The structures were old: not Forerunner-Old, but likely older than the Coalition or Shadow Alliance, at least. There were some trees scattered across the valley, and the u-shaped bend, while covered in snow, seemed to have been disturbed, as if something had travelled through it recently.
"Keep sharp, they've likely been through here..." Sub-Zero said.
As they followed the path, they approached one of the older structures. The facility looks like the kind built by an extinct civilization of some kind. However, the disturbed path moves off into a small crevice in the valley wall, into another area. While the path to the structure seemed well-used, the path into the crevice was used more recently. Natalia led the team through the small crevice. As they moved through, however, they came upon a large auto-turret, that immediately fired on them when they came around the bend. The group was able to retreat behind the corner again, but the auto-turret now blocked their path.
Natalia immediately went to work. "Chaos Control!" She disappeared and, when they peered around the corner, she'd appeared on the side of the turret. Locating the power source, Natalia Aura-striked the main connection. A moment later, the turret, no longer being fed power, shut down. "Come on," Natalia said, "Let's keep moving."
The team passed the turret, until they entered a small valley. Their end of the valley was surrounded by a canyon, while the other end openned into a open ice field. Lining that other end, however, was a line of turrets like the one Natalia just deactivated. However, they didn't turn to face them or anything: as though they were merely there to keep stuff from getting into the valley, but not worry about anything already in it.
"Stay together: they could be anywhere," Natalia said. The valley appeared to have several structures inside it. Natalia led the group slowly towards one, keeping a lookout in case there were any of these 'Interrogators' nearby.
The group peered into one of the buildings, and, finding the entrance deserted, entered the structure. "This interior is from a Covenant starship," Natalia commented, recognizing the architecture of the interior, "But what's a Covenant vessel doing this far out of the contested zone?"
"Contested Zone?" Sub-Zero asked.
"The section of space where most of the galactic conflicts occur: Coalition, Borg, and Shadow Alliance space," Natalia explained. She then walked over to one wall of the interior, and, seeing what appeared to be script covered in snow, she dusted the snow aside, revealing writing.
As Natalia analysed it, Shun asked, "What does it say?"
As Natalia looked it over, her eyes widened. "It says "Rapid Devotion"...but the Rapid Devotion was a Covenant Corvette lost a few years ago, according to updated databanks..." After thinking for a moment, she said, "Let's keep moving."
The team continued through the halls of the facility, finally reaching what Natalia recognized as the bridge to a Covenant Corvette, only heavily damaged. Inside, they saw what appeared to be Interrogator Soldiers, as well as what appeared to be the mutilated remains of the Covenant Loyalist crew.
"So, what now?" Shun whispered.
Natalia responded, "We access the ship's computer. From the looks of it-" She pointed to one of the robots manipulating the holopad of one of the computers. "-the computers are still functional, and these things are making full use of it. Maybe it'll have some logs on what's going on around here..."
"So, how're we going to-hey!" Sub-Zero said. However, as he started to speak, Natalia vanished, appearing some distance away as if 'blinking' to her current position. Sub-Zero turned to Shun, but found he'd already moved off in the opposite direction. Sub-Zero sighed. "Always on the move..." before moving to an area hidden from view down the middle path.
Chapter 6: Shard of HopeEdit
(Remainders find out they're in the wrong place again, but find information on Alice's true location)
Chapter 7: The StrongholdEdit
(The remainders find themselves at the Interrogator Stronghold/Alice is getting tortured)
Chapter 8: The SacrificeEdit
(Alice is found, but she has lost a lot of blood/another member gives her some of their blood so she can live)
Chapter 9: "We're All Leaving Together"Edit
(Everyone survives, and escapes the Interrogators)
Chapter 10: RecoveryEdit
(Alice recovers, and the blood transplant has unusual consequences)