Commander’s Log 4

The Commander’s Log. Part 4. Black Legion.

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Chapter 32

Commander’s Log. Chapter 32

There are a lot of myths and sinister stories about the Black Legion on Utopia. Bandits are rumoring that all the recruits there get brainwashed and turned into obedient and heartless fighters ready to face their death. I’m ashamed I never took It seriously. I thought that General Kurbatov was just another gang leader, his military education giving him an advantage over Kingspin. I was wrong.

Today, it’s the first time we’ve met the Legion soldiers. In the combat they resembled some perfectly fitted gears of a heartless battle machine. When sniping, covering one another and trying to surround me. they were acting without a word or gesture, as all being parts of the whole. The fighting was heavy, but we prevailed. I was surprised what happened to the last soldier – at some point he seemed to hesitate ready to retreat… But his body tightened in a spasm actually having turned him around on a dime, and from then on he kept pulling his trigger and firing at us till my bullet pierced his right eye.

Soon we found an explanation to this. We examined the bodies of the killed: considering the horrible scars on the temples and the back of the head, these soldiers’ brains had undergone some cybernetic augmentation. It means that General Kurbatov, having no opportunity to produce battle robots, actually make them out of people. And in his obsession with the holy war against the machines, he is ready to go far beyond any laws of God and men…

Chapter 33

Commander’s Log. Chapter 33

As if it’s not enough to deal with the Legion soldiers! Today we’ve had an armed clash with the Assassins… Even the Vipers are harmless little girls when compared to these furies! Never in my life have I seen such perfect reactions, movement speed and reflexes. This reminded me of the Roxy’s story about some of the Legion fighters being able to beat off bullets and evade grenade fragments. Now I’m ready to believe that.

However, such abilities are not given for free – the price is high, to be sure. Just remember the device implanted instead of your eyes and increasing your viewing angle! On Earth such surgery has been prohibited for years – many of the brave who ventured to undergo the operation went mad with the terrible pain. But they were volunteers and knew the risk… And here I’m not sure that the Assassins give any consent to their transformation into fearless killing machines.

Though even the death didn’t take off the mask of indifference from my enemies’ faces, one of the girls had managed to whisper something before I ended her life with an insurance shot Maybe I’m mistaken, but those words sounded like “no more… pain…”. Now I can’t help thinking about who she was before her becoming a cyborg-killer. A bandit from the Kingpin’s gang? A dancer from the Citadel? Someone’s girlfriend, mother or sister? Kurbatov saw in her only a material for the creation of another half-robot And that means the General’s account is running up.

Chapter 34

Commander’s Log. Chapter 34

I was surprised when I saw an operational Boombird of the Black Legion, as I had been sure all these airborne killers were in the monopoly of Kingpin. However, having dissected a couple of the downed drons, Anderson shed some light on the situation. Apparently our successful war against the army of thugs and their leader had indirectly helped General Kurbatov to build up his armaments: the Legion Boombirds turned out to be the same ones produced under the Kingpin’s directions. Our victory over the main body of the bandits resulted in the Boombirds secret hangar being left unguarded and becoming easy prey for the Legion people. Kurbatov’s engineers simply reprogrammed the drons and made them serve to the new owner. And now the Kingspin’s invention keeps fighting against us as if the dead bandit is trying to take revenge from his grave.

When I stood behind Anderson and observed him dissecting a Boombird, I got a ten-minute lecture on the construction of these unusual battle machines. The Boombird is an example of the most efficient use of all the resources at hand. Though assembled out of industrial waste (Anderson used a stronger word), the dron possesses excellent combat qualities. Its heavy armor – made of the Kronos innovative alloys used for the construction of Green City -covers a simple but rather powerful bomb. Just before its detonation the cover opens producing a devastating blast Its electronics is taken out of “smart” household robots and its turbines – out of air taxis used to carry around happy citizens of Utopia in the times of Adam Cruise… All these peaceful technologies have returned into a wicked piece of metal bringing death and destruction, the same having happened to this entire planet.

Chapter 35

Commander’s Log. Chapter 35

The giant alien ship is towering up in front of us. Despite all the damage sustained, the cruiser is in a better state than our poor MOROSE downed the same way by some unknown weapon. Though Fido and I have examined all the rooms, I’m a little bit nervous about hot-eyed Anderson and Elizabeth curiously roaming somewhere deep in the dark belly of the ship. There isn’t a soul inside, only mysterious green light glowing here and there and some strange roar sounding like the one you hear from a sea shell. There is nobody – dead or alive. Anderson is sure: the technologies used for the ship construction are extra-terrestrial. It’s a creation of some alien and maybe more developed civilization. Another interesting fact: the ship’s materials and design remind our engineer and us all of the obelisks-terraformers placed all around the planet by a mysterious hand.

The Xi Cultists call the terraformers “Defilers” and are trying to destroy them. And the Xi’s Hand spoke of the ship’s owners as of the accursed enemies. Why did they cause such outrage of the Cultists? could they or their friends build the giant Defilers all over the planet? But what did the guys from the deep space need small Utopia for? And why do these crazy local cultists dislike them so boldly? So many questions without answers… Maybe if we managed to find any survivors from the alien ship they would give us the answers and the “Utopia” puzzle would come together… But where shall we seek the crew of the mysterious ship?

Chapter 36

Commander’s Log. Chapter 36

No army can exist without rear services. Behind every soldier there are all those responsible for producing uniform and ammunition, treating casualties, providing communication and supply. However, the Black Legion does not strictly divide its front and rear units. General Kurbatov has ensured that his soldiers would operate effectively without support in any hostile environment Today I’ve seen a real manifestation of this doctrine – the combat paramedics of the Legion.

To tell the truth, these women in their white uniform with red crosses didn’t seem dangerous at first Even knowing about the inhuman principles of the Legion. I didn’t want to shoot at the paramedics and kept firing at the attacking enemies instead. But soon the purpose of strange kits on the backs of these ladies became evident: using their hand-held emitters, the girls were beaming some energy and that way treating the seriously injured soldiers and returning them to battle in the split second.

The scene unfolding In front of me resembled more of a necromancy rite out of a horror movie. Those who should have been dead were coming back to life revived by the power of the unnatural technologies. The soldiers were returning to battle not noticing their fatal wounds, their blood coagulating and forming a black flexible film. But the scariest was the dead silence that reigned while the soldiers were getting up from the ground and taking their weapons back into their hands… And while the paramedics were doing their work – without a subtle feeling of emotion. I don’t think they had any sympathy to the soldiers – they were only willing to return the damaged units to battle.

According to Elizabeth’s data, the paramedics’ equipment operates by interacting with a regenerating emulsion pumped into the soldiers’ cardiovascular system. This substance allows to treat the most horrible wounds but in a couple of years Kills the body – literally burning it from the inside out it seems like Kurbatov is planning to win the war before his soldiers die… or has already written them off as casualties.

Chapter 37

Commander’s Log. Chapter 37

When I saw the Maximus, for the first time in my life l doubted if I was tough enough to kill such a rival. It was an oversized hulk, high as four men, armed with heavy machine guns tearing any armor like paper and with a huge rail-type gun of even more devastating power… The Maximus’s metal plates were several centimeters thick and almost impossible to pierce. I can’t still believe that I have really managed to find a weakness in the giant’s construction and it is lying on the ground as a pile of smoking scrap.

While examining the giant’s remains, Anderson was just shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders in surprise. He confessed that he had never seen much of the technological solutions used in the robot design. What is more, being one of the best space engineers of the Earth Federation, he could not quickly understand the operating principles of some machine elements… Where has the General got such technologies from? Well, I’m not amazed that his army is better equipped than the Kingpin’s thugs. After all the Legion is headed by military professionals that came not empty-handed from Earth. But how do they get weapons the Federation army is only dreaming of?.. And how could the Maximus death machine, so terrible in its perfection, appear here, on this devastated planet swarming with mutants? The machine that would need dozens of years to be constructed under normal conditions? Is it possible that the war has forced people here to make a great technology breakthrough in their need to survive the Dominion army invasion? Or might Kurbatov have used the technologies received by studying his enemy, the Dominion? This also may be a plausible explanation of how the Legion obtained such an ideal weapon like the Maximus.

Chapter 38

Commander’s Log. Chapter 38

The Final War… What is the meaning of these words? And is it possible that the creature I’ve just killed could see the future? The battle against this hideous thing that called itself “a Chosen One” has left me more questions than answers. Nevertheless, now l’m able to put all the things together.

Shroeder has already told me his vision of the Xi Cult structure, and the appearance of the Chosen fits well in this concept We Know for sure that Xi is a creature of outstanding psionic power. It controls all the spiders and is able to affect peoples’ minds through its power “agent” – the Hand. The latter heads the sect and chooses the most worthy cultists to “unify” with the god. I had studied a lot of the records of the cultists’ prayers and conversations and I knew that they were willing to get the Xi’s “blessing” – to see the future, to talk without words, to become immortal. I was sure that all this was just a metaphor or a lie, but the fight with the Chosen One made everything clear. This mutant was really immortal! Neither the bullets, nor the grenades were able to stop him – until my concentrated Psi Strike ceased his unending revival!

When launching the telepathic attack, instead of the Chosen One’s mind I felt lust an echo of the alien will, and I still hear that strange whisper somewhere at the back of my conscience. It is tempting, and flattering, and revealing the pictures of the future. Is it a psionic hallucination? Maybe… But I’m ready to agree to the Elizabeth’s suggestion: she has studied the Chosen One’s energetic spectrum and is ready to start the elaboration of the armor capable to drain the XI’s energy. I can’t wait to try to make this most hideous Utopia creature serve me.

According to the Chosen One’s words, once he was a common human. But I would never recognize in him anything resembling of the human race. I fought against a monster, a travesty of the Creation that had only one desire – to destroy his lord’s enemies. Even his own existence was owed to the Xi’s powers that filled his every bone and muscle. What is more, when establishing the mental linking, I could not but feel that the Chosen One was a powerful psionic… May this ability be his master’s selection criterion? And will I be able to overcome the Xi’s will? Or is this creature just preparing another trap in his desire to turn me into the mightiest of his Chosen Ones? No, not a chance. There is a lot of danger threatening my life here on Utopia, but I’m sure that the Xi’s mental powers can do nothing to me – or I would unwillingly have joined the Cultists’ ranks already.

Chapter 39

Commander’s Log. Chapter 39

Before I met this creature, I had been allowing that all the carnivorous met here on Utopia might have resulted from some natural evolutionary processes. The local fauna is certainly very unusual, but, when excluding the possibility of its natural origin, all the other “why” theories seem too fantastic to be true. Nevertheless, after my encounter with the Bobmbers’ Queen I’m ready to believe in any of them but not in this creature’s emerging as a result of the evolution! The thing we met near the downed aliens’ starship is just the essence of unnaturalness! The Queen spits out of its womb the creatures we called “Bombers”. These Bombers’ only purpose of life totally contradicts the instinct of self-preservation and is to commit suicide having inflicted as much damage as possible to the enemy and with the self-explosion of their own body. Such sad fate of its children seems not to bother their hideous mother at all. The Queen kept procreating Bombers one after another until I finally finished it off.

The most important thing is that our meeting with the Queen resulted in a new project for our Research Center – now we are close to the creation of a heavy acid-shooting weapon! The chemical reaction undergoing in the creature’s glands and repeated by Elizabeth in the laboratory will be the key for the development of this powerful organic gun. The Queen is capable to concentrate Its pungent acid into a tar-like substance and spit it out hitting distant targets. And now this acid concentration technology is available for us as well. At least there’s something good about this nasty Bombers’ Queen!

Chapter 40

Commander’s Log. Chapter 40Weapons and armor, accuracy and vigor, psi power and authority over the subordinates – they all mean nearly nothing to me now when I’m standing in the shadow of the Z.E.V.S. main gun. When looking at this monster, the bravest man would doubt of his strength, having felt himself for a second like a tiny insect peeking into the barrel of a loaded gun. And all that we see on the surface – is just a small part of the construction. l feel really creepy when I think of the actual size of this metal titan. One glance into the complex air shaft made me dizzy: a giant hulk towering amid the scaffolds in the gloom of the colossal underground hangar was many times larger than any machine I had ever seen. We’re lucky that the Z.E.V.S. construction hasn’t been completed – one shot of its gun would be enough to raze our Base to the ground. And the Kingpin’s words that turned out to He true are still Haunting me. The General didn’t create any of his own here – he continued working on the weapon protects of Adam Cruise. Why could the Green City father-founder need a battle robot as large as a skyscraper? Maybe the paradise city was just a blind for the construction of the deadly weapon…

However, Margaret is sure that Z.E.V.S. wouldn’t be of any effect alone. She thinks that this project is lust a result of the superiority complex that obsessed first Cruise and then Kurbatov. She mentioned quite a lot of the examples when the giant size of super-heavy tanks and ships just made them more vulnerable to enemy and they could be employed in battle only for deterrence. I don’t share the skepticism. First the General had his huge army of zombies to support the Z.E.V.S. Second, the only thing that could be a match to the oversized Dominators is a larger battle machine. As you now, the best way to defeat a monster is to get a larger one.

Chapter 41

Commander’s Log. Chapter 41It’s a long time I don’t feel any fear, or danger, or oath when I see these Dominion enormous machines that we have met in the terraformed areas. I know all their weak points and am able to destroy these giants using missiles or to hack them distantly for the deactivation. Nevertheless, my heart sinks a little every time I hear the report on a Dominator’s intrusion. I can’t help thinking that all I’ve seen is just a mare one thousandth of the might of the Dominion.

Today I’ve had an opportunity to examine the remains of a Dominator, destroyed by the Black Legion fighters. This scene should have inspired me – the enemy isn’t immortal, and I would manage them as well as the Generals soldiers, But the sight of this synthetic creature has touched me so deeply that even now I can’t get rid of some subtle apprehension.

Even a glance at this monster was enough to understand that the Dominators differed from the Legion cyborgs as much as predators from fluffy toys. You feel at once – this thing was created by an alien mind. A blended body, ideal efficiency, no frills. This robot isn’t constructed to shine at an Adam Cruise’s inventions exhibition or a military parade. It is constructed to kill.

Soon enough I am to meet dozens – or even hundreds – of such creatures. Maybe, that battle will be the most major challenge that I’ve ever faced here on Utopia. And I need to prepare for it starting from now.

Chapter 42

Commander’s Log. Chapter 42This day I’ve made sure that the General has no more any moral principles at all His hellish experiments, his soldier brainwashing, his grinding down of their bodies, his turning those people into thoughtless war machines aren’t enough for him. He wants his fighters to serve him even after their death.

l’m ashamed, but if I hadn’t known all the truth about the Terminators, I would remember thorn only like dangerous enemies, whose weapons made a lot of holes in my armor, I’ve studied the specifications deciphered by Elizabeth from the sources and can tell you for sure that the General’s engineers know their job well. There’s no doubt that this battle machine is their most perfect creation, combining the best Qualities of a soldier, a tank and a mobile firing platform. A stable tracked chassis, a superalloy armor, a perfect guidance system… An army of such mechanoids could have wiped a Dominators’ army off the Utopia map.

But the most terrible thing is that Beneath the metal and electronics, a Terminator’s body encloses the human brains taken out of the braincase of a dying soldier. I wouldn’t be surprised if the General is sure that this way he is giving eternal life to his people.

But I’ve got sick enough of hearing the short record of a Terminator’s synthesized voice that the Shroeder’s sensors caught between the dry “affirmative”, “target locked” and “yes, sir” of the robot…

The Terminator’s metal body is a jail where the prisoner Isn’t even able to kill himself and escape from this neverending nightmare. I hope soon l will get to the jail keeper. To General Kurbatov himself.

Chapter 43

Commander’s Log. Chapter 43A distinguished commander.

A ruthless dictator.

A paranoid madman.

An officer, doing his duty till Ms last gasp. A maniac, having lost the sense of what is good and evil.

General Kurbatov.

As the General told me himself, he came to Utopia as the head of a commando unit disguised as unarmed refugees. His objective was to neutralize Adam Cruise who was constructing super-weapons to seize the power on Earth. If Kurbatov’s words were true and such an operation really had taken place here, its success might have saved most of the victims and even averted the Utopia catastrophe itself. But, fatally, it was the General’s interference that made Cruise give the “destroy everything” order to the Dominion. We all know the consequences.

Kurbatov never allowed the disaster to break his spirit. Creating his Black legion, he spared neither his soldiers, nor his enemies, nor his own soul, going further and further beyond all bounds. Looking at the remains of the General, crushed by his own armored exoskeleton. I can’t help thinking that this self-appointed savior of mankind against the machines was himself a mechanism of pure petroleum oil blood. His ideology left no room for emotions, compassion or a plain common sense – only for the cold calculation of efficiency and utility. I’m grateful to the higher power that Kurbatov was isolated on Utopia and ended his days without returning to Earth. He could have become an ideal dictator in comparison with whom Cruise and Kingspin would seem to be mere charlatans. Perhaps after his victory over the Dominion, he could have brought mankind to the glory… hut at the end of that way mankind would have had as little human as Kurbatov himself.

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